This week’s Hippo

St. Patrick’s Day on the way

This year, St. Patrick’s Day lands smack dab in the middle of the week. The entertainment choices run across the spectrum, from steak houses pouring green beer alongside plates of corned beef and cabbage, to places where March 17 is New Year’s, Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July rolled into one day.

You know the latter type — more Irish than thou, with a Guinness-logo digital clock above the bar that’s been counting down the days to St. Patty’s since mid-October. A word of warning: such places usually fill up early, so advance planning is a good idea.

Here’s a checklist of choices to consider while rummaging around for your shamrock pin and green bowler hat.

Band Karaoke with Mindseye:

So you want to be a rock and roll star?

According to the song, that involves first getting an electric guitar and then learning how to play. In today’s world of instant gratification, who has time for that?

Instead of setting for another turn at Rock Band, why not go for the real thing, with a ready-made band that already knows “Free Bird,” not to mention “Kryptonite,” “Use Me” and most of your favorite Tom Petty songs?

That’s the idea behind Band Karaoke, hosted by local cover combo Mindseye every Thursday night at the Peddler’s Daughter in Nashua.

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Local Rhythms – St. Patty’s Old School

Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but some more than others.

99 percent of taverns serve corned beef, cabbage and green light beer.

The rest have a digital clock on the wall with a Guinness logo that’s been counting the minutes and hours to March 17 since last autumn.

These are the ones I care about.

For Emerald Isle fealty, it’s hard to match Salt hill Pub, where St. Patrick’s Day is a weeklong celebration at their three locations, beginning on Saturday in Lebanon with a visit from Burlington’s Longford Row.

The five-piece band specializes in traditional, whisky-soaked fight songs.

Guinness Stout and Irish breakfast, complete with beans and black pudding, is de rigueur on the big day at Salt hill, along with lots of music.  In Lebanon, it starts with a ceremonial pint at 9 a.m., followed by an All-Star Irish Breakfast Session at 10.

The Short Brothers provide evening entertainment at Salt hill Newport, but music begins there at 11:30 a.m. with the Junior Stevens Traditional Band followed by O’hAnleigh at 4 p.m. – both perform later in Lebanon

Over at the new pub in Hanover, there’s a special afternoon traditional session with Anthony Santoro and Geordie Lynd at 4, followed by the hard working Junior Stevens All-Star Traditional Band at 9.

Another Hanover restaurant gets into the act this year, as Canoe Club welcomes Skellig to play reels and jigs.

The Killarney in Ludlow sponsors a family-friendly scavenger hunt at Okemo resort, with music from Gypsy Reel, who then take the party down the road to the pub for the rest of the night.

Up in Killington, McGrath’s Irish Pub has old school cred, with the distinction of being the first tavern in Vermont to offer Guinness on tap.

McGrath’s welcomes the fine Burlington trio Trinity for their St. Patty’s party.

For those looking to avoid the bars but still craving a Celtic fix, consider the Tartan Terrors, performing irreverent folk songs that frequently employ break-dancing sheep and saucy women in mini-kilts.

The Tartan Terrors are three Canadian brothers masquerading as Scotsmen – not exactly Irish.

Don’t forget, however, that St. Patrick was born in England, and only migrated to Ireland after finding religion.

Similarly, Ireland waited until the early 1970s before really embracing his day.

Why? They noticed what the United States was doing, and decided it looked fun.

So I guess St. Patrick’s is really an all-American holiday.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, March 11: Supply & Demand, Bentley’s – This Woodstock restaurant, a big player in the area nightlife scene for nearly 35 years, is among the many dishing up corned beef (and Tad Davis) on the 17th. But their real specialties are steak, meatloaf and chicken schnitzel. They also serve up live music most every Thursday night, including this cover band.

Friday, March 12: Kind Buds, Jesse’s – I think of these guys as the Dark Star Duo – they love the Grateful Dead (enough that they once sat on a symposium about the band), and they perform a lot of their songs – very well. But this is not a one-trick pony – their spirited originals are pretty tasty, too. Hearing them makes me think of summer – they pair are a mainstay on the New England festival circuit.

Saturday, March 13: Jandee Lee Porter, Curtis’s BBQ  – A few weeks ago, I watched this Charlestown born singer-songwriter delight a crowd in Manchester with her soaring voice and heartfelt songs.  Country music fans should not miss a chance to see her close to home. Porter writes like she means it, and if I didn’t know otherwise, I’d swear she hails from Nashville – but she’s all ours.

Sunday, March 14: Mike Gordon, Lebanon Opera House – A brief 8-date swing through the Northeast includes a rare Lebanon appearance for the Phish bass player, who will likely draw from his recent release, The Green Sparrow, a record rich in funk, groove and jam elements. Gordon’s band includes Max Creek guitarist Scott Murawski, jazz drummer Todd Isler, UVM teacher and pianist Tom Cleary and percussionist Craig Myers.

Tuesday, March 16: Acoustic Coalition, Murphy Farm – This loose affiliation embodies the Upper Valley scene. Most of the players at this weekly Quechee jam session gig with other bands, some with several. Listen to Acoustic Coalition recordings on, my favorite website for local music, for a sense of the inspired fun that transpires.

Wednesday, March 17: Gully Boys, Firestones – Here’s an alternative St. Patrick’s Day gathering to think about, hosted by the area’s jam band standard bearers. Speaking of Yellow House, their lineup includes site founder, the many musical hat-wearing Dave Clark.  They always provide a good time, and any excuse – green beer or brown acid (just kidding) – can get the party started.