The fiddle choir Childsplay recently released their seventh album before heading out for their national farewell tour with Jamaica Plain resident McKinley James.
Led by violin maker Robert Childs, Childsplay is made up of 12 fiddlers, playing a violin or viola handmade by Childs himself, and ranging from all-Ireland and national Scottish fiddle champions to members of the Boston Symphony. Childsplay’s fiddlers are accompanied by nine all-star instrumentalists, singers and dancers who altogether create the sound that is truly Childsplay.
One member of Childsplay is McKinley James, who has lived in Jamaica Plain since 2015, attending school at New England Conservatory (NEC). “The community is very vibrant musically both classical and folk music, there are great contra dances and jam sessions in JP,” said McKinley.
During her time in Jamaica Plain, McKinley started a band called Night Tree, forming back in 2016 at NEC during a jam session. Night Tree would go on to win the Honors Ensemble competition at NEC, and since then have toured both nationally and internationally. They released their second album, Dedications, in October and played a concert at The Burren in Somerville.
McKinley’s journey to Childsplay started years ago, having heard Childsplay for many years. She became a part of the group in 2017 and have since gone on a tour of the Northeast with them and recorded an album.
“It's been an incredible opportunity for me to perform with Childsplay. The group itself has been something that I've been listening to for many years, and the artists themselves have been inspirational,” said McKinley.
“McKinley’s impact is large as we need a really solid rhythm and melody section from the low end (cello and bass) and her transition into the group was seamless due to her high level of musicianship!” said Childs. “She is an enthusiastic and talented player who is a joy to have in the group.”
Childsplay's new album “The Bloom of Youth” is the first step in a final farewell tour for the band, many of whom have been in the band for 30 years. Childsplay will kick off their final tour dates in the Pacific Northwest, playing several shows in Washington and Oregon in November, before concluding at the Somerville Theatre in Somerville, MA on November 20.
A full schedule of the tour can be found below. Ticket information can be found at www.childsplay.org/concerts.