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Sept. 21, 2006 • Volume 15 Number 2

Gaelic Roots Is Now More Than a Memory

Gaelic Roots already lives on in the hearts and memories of the thousands who attended the popular Boston College Gaelic music and dance event during its 10 years.

Now, the name itself has official staying power.

This fall marks the inauguration of the Gaelic Roots Irish Music, Song and Dance Workshop and Lecture Series, which will feature some of the most respected musicians, dancers and scholars of Irish and related traditions. The series gets off to a fast start with a lecture and concert tomorrow night, Sept. 22, and another evening of music on Wednesday, Sept. 27.

While BC has hosted such events regularly in recent years, these will now take place under a unifying theme.

As Sullivan Artist in Residence Seamus Connolly, director of Irish music programs at BC, explains, "This is simply formalizing what's been going on here since Gaelic Roots ended as a summer festival and school in 2003. By holding these events throughout the academic year - as we've done the past few years - instead of one week in the summer, our students have an opportunity to listen to, and talk with, these great performers and experts.

"The concerts, workshops and lectures we've been offering very much reflect the spirit of Gaelic Roots, so we felt that grouping them under the name was appropriate."

This year's Gaelic Roots series is titled "From Boston, New England, and Beyond," an exploration of Boston's role in Irish music and arts. Tomorrow night's event, "Thinking Outside the Box: How Button Accordionist Joe Derrane Helped to Redefine Irish America's Musical Identity Twice," features a lecture by local author and journalist Earle Hitchner, and a performance by the legendary Joe Derrane, a mainstay of the mid-20th century Boston Irish dance hall scene who during the past decade has delighted, and educated, new generations of Irish music lovers.

The Sept. 27 event will spotlight Boston Music Award nominees Matt and Shannon Heaton, a husband-and-wife duo whose lively flute-and-guitar instrumentals and sensitively rendered songs - both traditional and self-composed - make for a style best described as Irish Americana. [An interview with the Heatons is available online]

All Gaelic Roots events, unless otherwise noted, take place at 7 p.m. in Connolly House.

A traditional Irish ceilidh, with dancing for all, will take place on Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in Gasson 100, led by Larry Reynolds, another well-respected figure in the Boston Irish music scene, and Irish Studies part-time faculty member Meghan Allen, who teaches Irish dancing at BC.

Scottish-style fiddler Laura Risk, whose music also encompasses other varieties of Celtic music, and guitarist-percussionist Paddy League will give a concert on Oct. 11.

A unique fusion of the traditional and contemporary comes to Gasson 100 on Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. with the Boston Urban Ceilidh. The "BUC" features some of Boston's premier Celtic musicians playing high-energy dance music of Ireland, Scotland and Cape Breton (Canada), set to a solid rock'n roll beat. The Urban Ceilidh is co-organized by the Boston Celtic Music Fest [www.bcmfest.com], as part of its outreach to the Greater Boston Community. [For more details, see www.myspace.com/bostonurbanceilidh]

New England contra dance music, a popular offshoot of Irish and Scottish traditions, will be presented on Nov. 7 by the trio Old New England. The group features renowned pianist Bob McQuillen, who has played for contra dances for decades.

On Nov. 16, Randal Bays (fiddle), James Keane (accordion), and Dáithí Sproule (guitar) will present music spanning generations from both sides of the Atlantic, from traditional to that composed yesterday.

The series' fall schedule concludes on Dec. 5 with two BC-affiliated musicians, Irish Studies part-time faculty member Laurel Martin (fiddle) and Irish Music Center Director Elizabeth Sweeney (piano).

For more information on Gaelic Roots events, see www.bc.edu/libraries/centers/burns/services/irishmusic/imcevents/. -Sean Smith

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