Boston’s Folk Music Calendar: What to See and Hear

Find out what’s happening in the Boston folk music scene. Check out our calendar of events to see what’s happening this week.

January

-Celtic
-Folk
-World
-Country
-Roots
-Rockabilly
-Jazz

February

February is a great month for folk music in Boston, with plenty of great shows and events to check out. Here are some of the highlights:

-On February 2nd, head to the Copley Square Farmers Market for a performance by local folk duo Brown Bird.

-The Boston Symphony Orchestra will be performing works by American composer Aaron Copland on February 8th and 9th. Catch a pre-concert talk on February 8th at 6:30pm.

-The New England Conservatory will be hosting a free concert featuring traditional Japanese music on February 11th.

-Irish band Solas will be performing at The Burren in Somerville on February 15th.

-For something a little different, check out the Tufts University Latin American Music Ensemble on February 16th. They’ll be performing music from Mexico, Peru, Cuba, and other Latin American countries.

March

As the weather warms and days grow longer, the monthly folk music calendar begins to heat up with a wide variety of concerts and events to choose from. Here are some suggestions for what to see and hear in March.

On March 3, the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge will host an evening of traditional Irish music with featured performers Brian O’Donovan of WGBH’s A Celtic Sojourn and fiddler Hanafin-O’Carolan Duo. The show will also feature a special guest set by singer-songwriter Jeff Warner.

Also on March 3, the Burren in Somerville will present an evening of contemporary Celtic music with the band Mischief. The multi-instrumental trio is known for their high energy performances and original compositions.

For those looking for something a little different, the Lilypad in Inman Square will host an evening of avant-garde jazz on March 10 with the band Abstract Logic. The group is made up of some of Boston’s most creative young jazz musicians and is sure to offer an unpredictable and exciting performance.

On March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, what could be more appropriate than an evening of traditional Irish music? The Irish Heritage Society will be hosting a concert at Old South Church featuring local favorites like Rose Clancy, Andrew Duncan, Matt Hickey, and Cathie Ryan.

And finally, on March 31, Club Passim in Harvard Square will present an evening of acoustic blues with two dynamic performers: Mark Mellinger and Phil Pemberton. Mellinger is a respected songwriter and guitar player who has toured internationally, while Pemberton is a powerful vocalist with a deeply soulful delivery.

April

From old-time and bluegrass to contra dance and English country dancing, there’s always something going on in the world of folk music in Boston. Here’s a look at some of the highlights for April.

Old-time music fans will want to check out the New England Folk Festival, taking place April 13-15 at Joe’s American Bar and Grill in Cambridge. The festival will feature more than 30 bands playing a variety of styles, including bluegrass, contra dance, English country dancing, and more.

If you’re looking for something a little more high-energy, the Hard Times String Band will be performing at Club Passim in Cambridge on April 20. The band is known for their fast-paced bluegrass tunes and lively stage show.

For something a little different, head to the Somerville Theatre on April 28 for an evening of Irish step dancing with Trinity Irish Dance Company. The company is one of the leading Irish dance groups in the world, and their performance is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

May

May is a busy month for folk music in Boston! Here are some of the shows and events you won’t want to miss:

On May 5, catch a performance by acclaimed singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier at Club Passim. Gauthier will be joined by her friend and collaborator, British singer-songwriter Jamie Anderson.

Also on May 5, the Cantab Lounge will host a night of traditional Irish music with The Belfast Boys. The band will be joined by special guests The Rambling Boys of Pleasure.

On May 12, head to The Burren in Somerville for A Stór Mo Chroí’s CD release party. The band will be performing songs from their new album, “New Beginnings.”

And on May 19, don’t miss a performance by acclaimed fiddler Eileen Ivers at the Berklee Performance Center. Ivers is a nine-time Grammy Award winner and has been hailed as “the Jimi Hendrix of the violin.”

June

The Cambridge Folk Festival is one of the world’s most respected and long-running music events, and takes place in the University city of Cambridge, England. The festival attracts around 12,000 people each year, and features a diverse range of folk musicians from all over the world. This year’s lineup includes such acts as Passenger, Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick, Lau, Sam Lee & Friends, and many more. The festival takes place from July 27-30.

The annual Narrows Center for the Arts Summer Concert Series presents an eclectic array of musical talent in an intimate setting overlooking Mount Hope Bay in Fall River, Massachusetts. This year’s lineup includes such performers as Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper (July 7), Malinky (July 21), Darlingside (August 4), The Dustbowl Revival (August 18), and several others. Concerts take place on Friday evenings from July 7-September 1.

Additionally, don’t miss out on the wonderful array of long-running folk music events taking place throughout the month of June in Boston. These include the Old Center Square Concert Series in downtown Boston every Wednesday evening from June 7-August 30; the Music at Noon concert series at churches throughout Boston every weekday during June; and the HarborFest free concerts at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park every evening from June 30-July 4.

July

Boston is a hotbed of folk music activity all year round, but the summertime is particularly special. The weather is perfect for outdoor concerts, and there are plenty of venues to choose from. If you’re in town in July, here are some folk music events you won’t want to miss.

The first week of the month features two great shows at Club Passim. On July 5, rising star Anais Mitchell will be performing her intimate brand of folk-inspired story telling. The following night, veteran songwriter John Gorka will be taking the stage. On July 7, head to the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade for a free concert by one of Boston’s favorite local bands, Session Americana.

Later in the month, don’t miss your chance to see two legendary figures in the world of acoustic music. First up is Joan Baez, who will be appearing at the Sanders Theatre on July 16. Then on July 27, it’s time for an evening with Emmylou Harris at the Berklee Performance Center.

August

August brings the final days of summer, and with them, a chance to see some of the best folk musicians in the country. From bluegrass to blues, there’s something for everyone in Boston this August.

The calendar starts with the New England Traditional Music Festival, which features three days of music from some of the region’s best traditional musicians. Next up is the Folk FestPortsmouth, which features two days of music, dancing, and workshops. Finally, the month ends with a bang at the Newport Folk Festival, one of the country’s most prestigious folk music events.

So whether you’re a traditionalist or looking to branch out and try something new, be sure to check out Boston’s folk music calendar this August.

September

Looking for something to do in September? Check out our folk music calendar for Boston!

9/1 – David Francey at the Passim Center for the Arts
9/2 – The Dardanelles at Club Passim
9/3 -4 – The Lowell Folk Festival
9/5 – Kat Wright & The Indomitable Soul Band at The Sinclair
9/6 – Jay Ungar & Molly Mason at The Burren
9/7 Peggy Seeger at Club Passim

October

As the weather cools and the leaves begin to change, spending time indoors doesn’t have to be a drag. In Boston, there are plenty of options for indoor entertainment to get you out of the house and into the city. Check out our top picks for October below.

October 1: Damien Jurado with special guest Jacob Jolliff at The Sinclair in Cambridge
October 2: Eliza Gilkyson at Club Passim in Cambridge
October 3: Lisa Loeb at The Red Room @ Cafe 939 in Boston
October 4: Viktor Krauss & Dolly Parton at The Sinclair in Cambridge
October 5: Richard Shindell with special guest Jeffrey Foucault at Club Passim in Cambridge
October 6: Shawn Mullins with special guest Will Dailey at City Winery Boston in Boston

November

The Boston area is home to a vibrant folk music scene, with many opportunities to see and hear live music each month. Here are some highlights for November:

-On November 2, catch a performance by the New England Traditional Jazz Orchestra at the Regattabar in Cambridge.
-On November 9, head to the Copley Square Hotel in Boston for an evening of Irish music with Mary Considine and Matt Idelson.
-On November 16, Donal Hines will be performing at Club Passim in Cambridge.
-On November 23, check out a concert by the Boston Jazz Quintet at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston.

December

December is a great month for live folk music in Boston! Here are some of the best shows to catch this month.

The December calendar kicks off with a show by the Folkicide duo on December 1st at the Middle East Cafe in Cambridge. If you’re looking for something a bit more upbeat, check out the Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys on December 3rd at the House of Blues. On December 9th, head to the Burren in Somerville to see Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards, and on December 10th, don’t miss Jeff Warner at Club Passim. For a traditional Irish music fix, catch Dervish on December 11th at the Berklee Performance Center. The month ends with a bang with two shows on New Year’s Eve – Green Day at Gillette Stadium and Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band at TD Garden.

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