Ladies and gentlemen, start your livers! Our big green holiday is almost here!
Is it me, or does it seem like holidays start sooner on the calendar nowadays? You can see the retail outlets putting Valentine’s Day merchandise on display right after New Year’s, and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception.
Irish artists typically begin their merriment weeks before and after March 17, and with St. Patrick’s Day falling in the middle of the week we essentially have weekends on either side of the day to do our celebrating!
As usual, I owe a debt of gratitude to one Brendan James Patrick Dunphy, of Hoboken, County Hudson. His list of St. Patrick’s Day festivities is normally published in January, proving that this man takes our green national holiday more seriously than St. Patrick himself!
What better way to start the big green holiday than with a show by the Prodigals at Paddy Reilly’s, 519 Second Avenue in New York, on Friday, March 5 before heading out on a punishing March schedule that finds them playing Cleveland’s House of Blues on St. Pat’s.
Saturday, March 6 is a green one for the Garden State as Gaelic Storm brings their own brand of Celtic thunder to the Algonquin Arts Theater in Manasquan, Exit 98 off the Garden State Parkway, while Celtic Cross will play the College of St. Elizabeth, Covent Station near Morristown. For more information on the Celtic Cross gig, check out their website at www.celticcrossnation.com
BB King’s in Times Square welcomes Solas, one of the most innovative traditional bands walking the earth today, on March 10.
Barleyjuice (Kyf Brewer, Keith Swanson, Billy Dominick, Jimmy Carbomb, Eric Worthington and Gregor Schroeder) bring the testosterone against the estrogen of sisters Erin, Heather, Colleen and drummer Mary Gellner of Searson for a gender smackdown called “Irish Boys vs. Irish Girls” at Connolly’s Klub 45 (121 West 45th Street), on March 11 at 8:30 p.m.
It will be hard to escape the deafening sound of Irish rock in midtown Manhattan on Friday, March 12 as Shilelagh Law plays Connolly’s Klub 45 Room, while the Tossers play Mercury Lounge downtown. Connolly’s is usually the home of Black 47 on weekends this time of year, but Larry Kirwan and the boys will be playing Staten Island College that night.
If you don’t feel like traveling into the city on Saturday March 13, there is no need to repent to St. Patrick! You can catch Seanchai and the Unity Squad at the “Unrepentant” Gathering at Rocky Sullivan’s in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. The band’s new website is www.seanchai.com, which reports that Gary Og from Glasgow, Scotland will join the band that night.
If you do venture into the city on the night of the 13th, you must catch my pick for the greatest Patrick’s Day hooley for your entertainment dollar. Nothing beat’s Joe Hurley’s Rock and Soul Revue!
Every year during the St Patrick's season, New York singer/songwriter Hurley salutes his Irish heritage with a blazing extravaganza of performers and songs that celebrate Ireland's musical gifts to the world -- the All-Star Irish Rock Revue. It features a cast of eclectic characters pillaging the songbooks of Ireland’s greatest artists.
Hurley and the Gents are the crackerjack backing band to a cast of thousands at the Highline Ballroom (431 West 16th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues, 212-414-5994). The show starts at 6:30 and doesn’t let up until after 11.
Gathering friends from NYC punk-rock legends to Broadway stars, from best-selling novelists to star comedians guest singers rip through the favored classics. For performer updates, go to www.roguesmarch.com.
Of course, you could also go old school that night by going across town and catching the Wolfe Tones at Connolly’s Klub 45 Room as well.
New Jersey wears the green on March 14, as the Chieftains hits the State Theater in New Brunswick and The Irish Rovers play the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank. Both venues have that historic theater vibe going in the middle of cities that are peppered with hip eateries, making this a perfect date night!
Celtic chanteuse Ashley Davis will be playing songs from her album, Down by the Sea, which was named one of the 10 best discs last year by the Irish Voice. She will be playing Joe’s Pub on March 16 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the door and can be had by calling 212-967-7555 or www.joespub.com. Davis will be playing with Cormac, Moya's Brennan’s harper.
As usual, there is no shortage of trouble to get yourself into in and around the city on March 17. Black 47 will be playing cuts off of their excellent new CD, Bankers and Gangsters, at BB King’s in Times Square.
A few blocks away, Shilelagh Law makes an early appearance (4 p.m.) prior to Hoboken’s Icewagon Flu bringing their eclectic mix of Irish jam band soul (sounds weird, I know, but you must see it to believe it!) at Connolly’s Klub 45.
For those with champagne tastes, the Chieftains play Carnegie Hall. Radio City Music Hall plays host to a four night salute to Riverdance, which makes its final curtain call after all these years.
On Thursday March 18, Dublin fold duo the Guggenheim Grotto will return to the eastern seaboard after a successful tour of the west, stopping in Manhattan’s Rockwood Music Hall before another gig on March 20 at West Milford’s Music at the Mission.
Whatever you decide to do, I do hope you decide to do something on this list. The music business has been in rapid decline during the last decade, with CD sales falling more than 50%.
Along with the decline in music comes an erosion of culture, and Irish artists are not immune to this negative trend. These hard working musicians are more dependent on touring and merchandising than ever before, so make sure you do your part to make sure our holiday is a green one for everyone involved!