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The Blackstone River Theatre

BRT Summer Solstice Festival
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2017 Schedule
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We are hard at work on an updated website which should be up and running soon. In the meantime, this schedule page plus the classes and art gallery links will be the only updated pages on THIS website. You can also visit BRT on facebook for more news/additions/changes at:


NOTE: If a show at BRT has an advance price & a day-of-show price it means: If you pre-pay OR call in your reservation any time before the show date, you get the advance price. If you show up at the door with no reservations OR call in your reservations on the day of the show, you will pay the day of show price.

Leave your name, number of tickets desired, for which show, your phone number and please let us know if you would like a confirmation phone call.

Mondays in January, $5.00 per class, 6:30-7:30 PM

Sunday, January 8
9:00 AM: 8-week class Tir Na Nog GOLD TROUPE (performance troupe) with Erika Damiani begins
10:00 AM: 8-week class in HARD SHOE - INTERMEDIATE with Erika Damiani begins
11:00 AM: 8-week class in Tir Na Nog CLADDAGH TROUPE (performance troupe) with Erika Damiani begins
NOON: 8-week class in ADVANCED SOFT SHOE with Erika Damiani begins
1:00 PM: 8-week class in Tir Na Nog TRISKELE TROUPE (performance troupe) with Erika Damiani begins

Tuesday, January 10
4:30-6:15 PM: 8-week session Tir Na Nog CARA TROUPE (performance troupe) with Erika Damiani begins

Tuesday, January 10
6:30 PM: 6-week class in CONTINUING BEGINNER FIDDLE with Cathy Clasper-Torch begins
7:45 PM: 6-week class in INTERMEDIATE BEGINNER FIDDLE with Cathy Clasper-Torch begins

Wednesday, January 11
5:00-6:00 PM: 8-week session Beginner/Cont. beg. HARD SHOE with Erika Damiani begins

Wednesday, January 11
6:30 PM: 6-week class in ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE FIDDLE with Cathy Clasper-Torch begins
7:45 PM: 6-week class in ADVANCED FIDDLE with Cathy Clasper-Torch begins

Thursday, January 12
5:00-6:00 PM: 8-week class Tir Na Nog 'NOG' TROUPE (performance troupe) with Erika Damiani begins
6:00-7:00 PM: 8-week class SOFT SHOE TECHNIQUE with Erika Damiani begins
7:00-8:00 PM: 8-week class Tir Na Nog GREEN TROUPE (performance troupe) with Erika Damiani begins

Thursday, January 12 (UPPER LEVEL)
5:30 PM: 6-week class in ADVANCED BEGINNER FIDDLE with Cathy Clasper-Torch begins
6:45 PM: 6-week class in COMPLETE BEGINNER FIDDLE with Cathy Clasper-Torch begins

Friday, January 13
4:30-5:30 PM: 8-week class Tir Na Nog RINCE TROUPE (performance troupe) with Erika Damiani begins
5:30-6:30 PM: 8-week class BEGINNER/ADVANCED BEGINNER HARD SHOE with Erika Damiani begins
6:30-7:30 PM: 8-week class SOFT SHOE TECHNIQUE with Erika Damiani begins
7:30-8:30 PM: 8-week class Tir Na Nog CEOL TROUPE (performance troupe) with Erika Damiani begins

Saturday, January 14
9:00 AM: 8-week class in BEGINNER IRISH STEP DANCE for children 5-10 with Erika Damiani begins
10:00 AM: 8-week class in CONTINUING BEGINNER IRISH STEP DANCE for children 8-AND-UP with Erika Damiani begins
11:00 AM: 8-week class in BEGINNER IRISH STEP DANCE FOR ADULTS / TEENS with Erika Damiani begins

Saturday, January 14, 8 PM, $15.00
Multistyle violinist and champion fiddler Mari Black is rapidly building a reputation as one of the most dynamic young artists of her generation. Her energetic playing, engaging stage presence, and commitment to bringing people together through music have made her a favorite with audiences across the country and around the world and she captivated the audience at last year's Summer Solstice Festival. Equally at home in a wide variety of musical traditions, Mari is the 2015/2013 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, 2014 Glenfiddich Scottish Fiddle Champion, 2014/2012 Canadian Maritime Fiddle Champion, 2011 Canadian Novelty Fiddle Champion, and 2-time laureate at the American String Teachers' Association Alternative Styles Awards. On stage, she creates shows that draw on elements from many different styles including jazz, tango, folk, and classical while specializing in Scottish, American, and Canadian fiddling. Mari is currently touring nationally with her trio, the Mari Black World Fiddle Ensemble, performing and celebrating diverse styles of traditional and modern dance music. Joining Mari this evening are David Surrette on guitar and Joe Magar on bass.

Saturday, January 21
1:00 PM: 6-week class in BASIC FINGERSTYLE GUITAR FOR ADULTS with Ed Sweeney begins
2:00 PM: 6-week class in ADVANCED BEGINNER / INTERMEDIATE 5-string BANJO with Ed Sweeney begins

Saturday, January 21, 8 PM, $15.00
Fellswater is a dynamic Celtic music ensemble based out of Boston playing a wide range of music from traditional to modern compositions, drawing from the music of Scotland, Ireland, Brittany and Canada. Instrumentation includes whistle, flute, guitar, bouzouki, violin, Scottish small pipes, and percussion. Fellswater has delighted audiences at New Hampshire Highland Games (2010, 2012, 2014), Maine Highland Games (2014), Blackstone River Theatre (2012, 2013 and 2015), Colonial Williamsburg (2014 and 2015) and the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo (2015). The band has released two well-received albums, "Fellswater," in 2010 and "Thursday Night," in 2013. Fellswater will appear at the prestigious Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2018. The 6-piece band features Elizabeth Ketudat on fiddle, Sarah MacConduibh on Irish flute and whistle, Andrew McIntosh, a former pipe major of the Stuart Highland Pipe Band, on Scottish small pipes and border pipes, Chris Myers on vocals, guitar, and octave mandolin, Diane Myers on vocals, and Kyle Forsthoff on bodhran and percussion.

Thursday, January 26, 6 PM

Celebrate the Chinese New Year!
Saturday, January 28, 8 PM, $16.00 advance / $20.00 day of show
Ed Sweeney with Yang Wei and members of YO-YO MA'S SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE:
Sandeep Das, Shane Shanahan, and Shaw Pong Liu
with special guest Lorraine Lee Hammond

Sponsored by Navigant Credit Union
This very special show will be a Celebration of the Chinese New Year as Blackstone River Theatre welcomes Ed Sweeney with four members of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble - Yang Wei on pipa, Sandeep Das on tabla, Shane Shanahan on percussion, and Shaw Pong Liu on violin and erhu. Ed Sweeney performs a wide-ranging repertoire of traditional music, ragtime and blues on 6- and 12-string guitar, 5-string banjo, and fretless banjo. Sweeney's 2015 CD with Yang Wei, "What Lies Ahead," a collaboration of traditional Chinese music and traditional western music, grew from the friendship that was formed between the two in 2008 when Ed was introduced to Yang Wei after a performance of the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma in Chicago. That friendship grew into performances in Chicago, Rhode Island and Taiwan. Representing a global array of cultures, Silk Road Ensemble musicians co-create art, performance, and ideas. The Ensemble has been called "vibrant and virtuosic" by the Wall Street Journal, and a "roving musical laboratory without walls" by the Boston Globe. Formed by Yo-Yo Ma in 2000, the Ensemble's music is contemporary and ancient, familiar and foreign, traditional yet innovative, and draws on many traditions from around the world to create a new musical language that reflects our 21st-century global society. Since the Tang Dynasty (618-907 C.E.), the pipa - a short-necked wooden lute - has been one of the most popular instruments in China. Yang Wei is a young pipa virtuoso. Yang Wei, a young pipa virtuoso, has been celebrated worldwide, performing for audiences throughout Asia, Europe, and the U.S. By age 18 he performed as a soloist with the National Shanghai Orchestra. In 1989 Yang Wei received First Prize for the International Chinese Musical Instruments Competition in the Young Professional Pipa section. He moved to the United States in 1996. In addition to performing as a soloist with orchestras around the world, he has toured with the acclaimed Silk Road Ensemble since 2000, performing alongside world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Sandeep Das is one of the world's leading tabla virtuosos. He has composed for and performed internationally with the Silk Road Ensemble since the group's founding in 2000, and is a Grammy-nominated recording artist in his own right. Percussionist, composer, and arranger Shane Shanahan has combined his studies of drumming traditions from around the world with his background in jazz, rock, and Western art music to create a very unique, highly sought after style. In addition to being an original member of the SilkRoad Ensemble, he has performed with Bobby McFerrin, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Alison Krauss, and many others. Violinist and composer Shaw Pong Liu engages diverse communities with creative music and social dialogue. As one of three Artist-in-Residence with the City of Boston for 2016, Liu's current project, "Code Listen," explores how music can support healing and dialogue around challenging topics of gun violence, race, and law enforcement practices. She is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley with a Masters in Violin Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music. Special guest Lorraine Lee-Hammond has been playing and teaching the Appalachian dulcimer for over 30 years. In New England she is known as a virtuoso player as well as a fine songwriter whose music is infused with a rare combination of consummate skill and quiet joy, qualities that have become her trademark.


NOTE: If a show at BRT has an advance price & a day-of-show price it means: If you pre-pay OR call in your reservation any time before the show date, you get the advance price. If you show up at the door with no reservations OR call in your reservations on the day of the show, you will pay the day of show price.

Leave your name, number of tickets desired, for which show, your phone number and please let us know if you would like a confirmation phone call.

Saturday, February 4, 8 PM, $15.00
When four young jazz virtuosos decided to join forces, The Rhythm Future Quartet was born. Named after a Django Reinhardt tune, The Rhythm Future Quartet performs dynamic and fiery arrangements of Gypsy jazz standards and original compositions that draw from rhythms heard around the world. Jason Anick and Olli Soikkeli, the front-men and lead soloists of the group, have been receiving critical acclaim this past year and are considered 'rising stars' in the world of jazz and Gypsy jazz. Soikkeli, who recently made the move from his home country of Finland to New York City, has rapidly become a top call guitarist in the bustling Brooklyn jazz scene and has been aptly coined "the Finnish boy wonder." Anick, who is also an award-winning composer, is one of the youngest professors at the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston. With Max O'Rourke on second guitar and Greg Loughman on bass, Rhythm Future is dedicated to expanding the boundaries of a vital musical genre. Where the band's self-titled debut album re-visited classic jazz and Gypsy jazz favorites, "Travels," the quartet's current release, concentrates on group originals that make captivating use of musical sources from outside the conventional Gypsy jazz terrain. "Travels" reflects both the accumulated knowledge garnered from the groups world wide touring as well as the international influences that inspired new rhythmic and harmonic possibilities within their compositions and arrangements. Garnering critical acclaim, "Travels" was picked as one of the Best Jazz Albums of 2016 by All About Jazz and the Huffington Post.

Saturday, February 11, 8 PM, $15.00 advance / $18.00 day of show
Since its inception in 2006, the Matt Flinner Trio has been performing its own brand of acoustic music around the country to rave reviews. Mandolinist Matt Flinner, guitarist Ross Martin and bassist Eric Thorin cover a wide variety of musical styles - all with the common ground of originality. Bluegrass, jazz and old-time music are all present here in their ways, along with a dose of classical chamber music composition and arrangement, as the members all draw from their wide array of musical loves, experiences and influences. Call it Americana Music, or New Acoustic, or Chamber Grass, or just call it Great Music ... whatever label you put on it, it is guaranteed to be fresh and original, and definitely something you've never quite heard before. All master composers and improvisers, the trio has become legendary for their ability to almost simultaneous compose and perform new music. Their past two albums have developed this "music du jour" concept-drawing on whatever inspires them that day to compose a new tune and then performing it that evening. Their collective ability to conjure great melodies out of the ether and deliver them in front of a live audience has earned the group a reputation as one of the most imaginative and fearless in the contemporary instrumental space. Starting out as a banjo prodigy who was playing bluegrass festivals before he entered his teens, Flinner later took up the mandolin, won the National Banjo Competition in Winfield, KS in 1990, and won the mandolin award there the following year. He was featured on Steve Martin's CD "The Crow," which won the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album. The trio's newest CD, "Traveling Roots," was released in 2016 on Compass Records to rave reviews. Special guest Bruce Molsky is one of the most revered ambassadors for America's old-time mountain music. For decades, he's been a globetrotting performer, ethnomusicologist and educator, a recording artist with seven solo albums, well over a dozen collaborations and two Grammy nominations. He's also the classic "musician's musician" - a man who's received high praise from diverse fans and collaborators like Linda Ronstadt, Mark Knopfler, Celtic giants Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine, and dobro master Jerry Douglas.

Sunday, February 12, 7 PM, $15.00
Innovation combined with tradition: that's a hallmark of Clancy family musicians, and it's one that guitarist Dónal Clancy is carrying forward into the twenty first century. The acoustic guitar adds many colors and textures to Irish music, but there's no long history of it in Celtic tradition, as there is with the fiddle and the accordion. Dónal Clancy is one who's bringing the guitar forward to its rightful place as a strong part of Irish tradition. He's been involved with the best bands in Irish music, starting out in Clancy, O'Connell, and Clancy with his father Liam and his cousin Robbie O'Connell, helping to found the band Danu and then moving on to become part of Eileen Ivers Band before taking a pivotal spot playing guitar with one of the hottest Irish and Irish American bands around, Solas. When it was time to make a change, he found his old band Danu in need of a guitar player again, and that's still one of his main gigs. In 2014, to much critical acclaim, he released an album dedicated to The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem entitled "Songs of a Roving Blade." The Irish Post called it "folk singing at its best" and "a smashing album that should help to ensure these songs will never be lost." Dónal's latest album "On the Lonesome Plain" features a mix of seven vocal tracks and six guitar instrumentals, including two of his own compositions A Strike for Victory commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising and an instrumental piece entitled Máirseáil na Conrach, inspired by the dramatic beauty of West Kerry. Don't miss the Blackstone River Theatre debut of an incredible guitarist and powerful singer!

Saturday, February 18, 8 PM, $15.00
THE VOX HUNTERS / Mark Roberts, Laurel Martin & Kieran Jordan
Armand Aromin and Benedict Gagliardi are musically bound by a shared love of traditional Irish music, which originally brought them together, as well as an eclectic and ever-growing amalgam of songs both inside and far outside the realm of folk music. Combining Armand's multifaceted fiddle playing, Ben's self-developed concertina style, and a pair of complementary voices, The Vox Hunters present an exciting repertoire of driving dance tunes blended with an unorthodox collection of interesting songs. Aromin is a violin maker and musician based in Providence. He has studied at Berklee College of Music and the University of Limerick, and is a graduate of the North Bennet Street School in Boston, Mass. where he earned his diploma in Violin Making and Repair. Gagliardi is from Connecticut and has played throughout the Northeast at festivals, house concerts, and coffeehouses. He placed first in the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Fleadh Senior Duets competition with Jon Warner as well as Senior Melodeon and Harmonica.

Fiddler Laurel Martin, Mark Roberts on flute, banjo, and bouzouki, and Kieran Jordan, who performs percussive sean-nós ("old style") step dance present traditional Irish music and dance with sweet melodies and the heartiest of grooves. As long-time friends through music, these three artists have collaborated previously in other groups, and they have toured and performed together as part of the fiddle ensemble, Childsplay. As a trio, they present tasteful musical selections, with dance woven in as rhythmic and visual accompaniment. Performing with lyricism and consummate skill, this group also sprinkles their concerts with heart-felt anecdotes promising an uplifting show of good tunes, good steps, and good spirits.

Saturday, February 25, 8 PM, $15.00
Mist Covered Mountains makes their Blackstone River Theatre debut with a concert of Celtic music with a French accent. Molly Hebert-Wilson sings in Irish and English and plays upright bass. Guitarist Max Cohen and fiddler Donna Hébert harmonize, with Alex Bell on bodhran and Molly on upright bass. Blurring lines between past and present, Mist Covered Mountains delivers ballads in English, Irish and French supported with dynamic instrumentals from traditional and original sources. Blackstone River Theatre audiences will be familiar with Donna Hébert from her appearances with Chanterelle. She is a Massachusetts Artists' Fellow in the Folk Arts. A singer, writer and composer as well as a fiddler, Donna has two original songs on Smithsonian recordings and directs the house contradance band at Philly Folk Fest. She also directs youth performances at Old Songs and Philadelphia Folk Festivals. Molly Hebert-Wilson's nuanced vocals in English and Irish render emotions in either language. An NYU theater and Irish studies grad, she grew up with traditional music. On stage from age 9, it was obvious that Molly would stay there but it was a welcome surprise that mother and daughter wound up together. Molly's recently added the upright and electric bass to her performances. Max Cohen's sparkling guitar supports Molly's nuance with his own, adding deft, humorous lyrics and his rich baritone. Max also tours with singer Priscilla Herdman and produces and engineers CDs for his colleagues. Alex Bell joined the band in 2014 on drums and bodhran.

Saturday, March 4 - TWO SHOWS! 5 PM and 8 PM, $30.00
LUNASA with special guest KARAN CASEY
Named for a Celtic harvest festival in honor of the Irish god Lugh, patron of the arts, Lúnasa is indeed a gathering of some of the top musical talents in Ireland. Its members have formed the backbone of some of the greatest Irish groups of the decade. Bassist Trevor Hutchinson was a key member of The Waterboys. Kevin Crawford, considered to be among the finest flutists in Ireland, played with Moving Cloud and piper Cillian Vallely comes from the same talented musical family as brother Niall, of Buille and the Karan Casey Band. Dynamic guitarist Ed Boyd is joined by fiddler Colin Farrell whose 2015 CD "Make A Note" was awarded Instrumental Album of the year by LiveIreland. Inspired by the legendary Irish group The Bothy Band, Lúnasa uses melodic interweaving of wind and string instruments pairing flutes, fiddle, whistle and pipes in breathtaking arrangements. They are universally acclaimed as one of the best Irish bands in the world. Irish vocalist Karan Casey was a founding member of traditional supergroup Solas, a band known for rousing tunes and striking renditions of traditional songs. Since Solas, Casey has carved out a unique and acclaimed place in contemporary Irish and folk music. Karan has recorded six solo albums, has won Best Irish Female Vocalist twice, Best Irish Folk album and a Grammy for her collaboration with Paul Winter. She has been nominated for the BBC Folk Awards and has performed with Peggy Seeger, Liam Clancy, James Taylor, and Tim O'Brien. USA Today has called her work "shiver-inducingly excellent."

Sunday, March 5, 7 PM, $25.00 advance / $30.00 day of
Sharon Shannon has been a musical icon for over 20 years. Traditional Irish music is her background but she has been fearless in her musical exploration having defied genres and woven her unique style through country, French-Canadian reggae, hip-hop, classical, and with her upcoming CD, "Sacred Earth" - African music. She is a former member of seminal Scots-Irish band The Waterboys, has achieved legendary status throughout the world, and has made the much maligned accordion 'cool' in her home country and abroad. At various times, Sharon has collaborated, toured and recorded with Bono and Adam from U2, Steve Earle, Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, John Prine, and Christy Moore. Several of her albums have been platinum selling and she has had Number 1 albums and singles including the Steve Earle-penned "The Galway Girl" performed with Mundy, which was featured in the Hillary Swank movie "PS I Love You."

Saturday, March 11, 8 PM, $20.00 advance / $24.00 day of
TEADA with special guest Méabh Begley
Téada (pronounced Tay-da, meaning "strings" in Irish) return to the States after a nearly 5-year absence with Méabh Begley, a gifted singer from a famous musical family in West Kerry, and champion step-dancer Samantha Harvey. What sets Téada apart from many Irish bands is their passion for a deeply traditional approach. The young group has been heralded for their "fierce familiarity with the old ways" by Irish Music Magazine. Following an initial gig opening for the Sharon Shannon band at Dublin's Celtic Flame festival in 2001, Téada was off and running. They were quickly tipped as "one of the most exciting traditional groups in recent years" by The Irish World and voted "Best Traditional Newcomers" by readers of Irish Music Magazine in 2003. Fiddler Oisin Mac Diarmada is joined by fellow Sligoman Damien Stenson on flute, Seán McElwain on banjo and bouzouki, and Tristan Rosenstock on bodhrán. Despite her youth, Méabh (pronounced Mayve) Begley is fast becoming one of the most respected singers in Ireland. With her crystal clear voice, she commands an audience tackling themes of love, emigration, and loss in both the English and Irish languages. In addition, she continues the family accordion tradition.