Local Rhythms – Greening St Patrick’s Day

p1011584The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration on this side of the pond happened in Boston in 1737, 19 years ahead of New York.

It’s satisfying to know that, even if NYC has a bigger parade.

Here’s another fun fact: though it’s been a public holiday in Ireland since 1903, the religious focus of the observance – Patrick was a saint, after all – kept Irish bars closed on March 17 until 1970.

It’s safe to say that we approach the “wearing of the green” differently, which explains why Guinness is pushing to make St. Patrick’s a US holiday with their “Proposition 3-17” effort.

There are probably more Irish-Americans than Irish, and they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with gusto, pouring dye in rivers (Chicago), canals (Indianapolis) and fountains (Savannah), while painting traffic lines and sometimes entire blocks Kelly green.

Our streams are too frozen for such antics, but there’s still plenty of local Irish energy.

If you can’t bear to party on a weeknight, Celtic Crossing plays the Chandler Music Hall Sunday night, but the real action is on Tuesday.

Good Celtic bands are doing double duty this year.  Over at Okemo, Gypsy Reel is at the resort’s pub in the afternoon; later they serenade The Killarney, a lovely slice of the Emerald Isle.

Reaganta, a talented trio from Exeter, appear at the Holy Grail in Epping (2 PM) and Harlow’s Pub in Peterborough (7 PM).

O’hanleigh plays both Salt hill Pubs – 4 PM in Newport and 7 PM in Lebanon – as does the Chris Stevens Band.

Of course, St Pat’s at Salt hill is like Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  So it’s multiple days of fun at the Lebanon location – an Irish-themed open mike on Thursday, the 8th annual Shamrock Shuffle 5K after-party Saturday, and a special evening of Irish music with Longford Row on Sunday.

Salt hill also hosts a traditional Irish breakfast at 9 AM Tuesday, which includes the raising of the first pint.

Colcannon, with Samantha Moffatt on hammered dulcimer and accordion, and Patricia Stebbins on harp, perform at Canoe Club.

Less traditional but just as fun is Mark and Deb Bond’s 3rd annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the Walpole Village Tavern.

Local heroes Yer Mother’s Onion will electrify the first ever Sophie & Zeke’s SPD soiree.

So there are several good excuses to cut loose on a Tuesday.

Or, you could just wait until next Friday and catch the Saw Doctors in Northampton.

What else is happening?

Thursday: Lucinda Williams, Capitol Center – Her cigarettes and whisky drawl could make the “Star Spangled Banner” sound sultry.  Williams rocked pretty hard at last year’s Green River Festival, closing with an AC/DC song.  The trend continued with the release of “Little Honey,” her ninth and most upbeat album.  There’s hardly a razor-gazer on the disc – it’s nice to see Lucinda lighten up a bit.

Friday: Comedy & Music, Bistro Nouveau – Boston comic Paul Nardizzi headlines, while Pete Merrigan (who can cut up with the best of them) provides the music.  Nardizzi likes to riff on sports, changing steroid poster child Alex Rodriguez’s nickname to “A-Needle” on his blog.  I’m sure he’ll have plenty to say about the upcoming Sox season and the Celtics acquisition of loopy Stephon Marbury.

Saturday: Ninja Monkey, Heritage Tavern – Ezra Veitch and Josh Maiocco’s call their latest project “SouthernVT Rock” – a dash of Elvis (Costello), a dollop of Fred Eaglesmith and a slice of Greg Brown, mixed with elements of their own various bands.  Ninja Monkey’s a monthly fixture at PK’s in Bellows Falls and they’ll be greening up next Tuesday’s St. Pat’s celebration at Harvest Moon in Saxton’s River.

Sunday: Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem, Stonewall Farm – A first rate Americana show presented by Orange Earth, promoter of the occasional Sunday folk shows at Armadillo’s Burritos.  Arbo made amazing music with Salamander Crossing in the mid-90s.  “Big Old World,” the third Daisy Mayhem album, is a gem.  It’s full of spirit and hope, along with good singing and playing.   Stonewall, a back-to-basics Keene dairy farm, sounds like a good place for a show.

Monday: Bobby K & the Peace, Bentley’s – Citing Antonio Carlos Jobim, Dave Matthews and Tupac as influences, you know this combo is out of the ordinary.  They’ve dubbed their music “folk-hop,” and this Vermont trio gets the crowd involved when they play. Since it’s an open mike night, audience participation is de rigueur.  No, seriously, bring your guitar and get in on the action.

Wednesday: Second Wind, Green Acres Café – Let’s coax spring with a wine tasting and music from this fine local duo, who regularly perform at the Claremont Farmer’s Market.  This Opera House Square café/grocer is a perfect place to enjoy gourmet food and good conversation.  Terry Gould and Suzi Hastings reach across the musical spectrum, moving between Heart, Springsteen and Lyle Lovett with ease.

Dublin City Ramblers Kick Off Lebanon St. Patrick’s Day

p1011548The lead-up to St. Patrick’s Day began in Lebanon Tuesday night with a performance by the Dublin City Ramblers.  The three-piece band scored an international hit with “Dublin in the Rare Old Times” in 1970 and, led by the picking and singing of Sean McGuinness, have been going strong ever since.

Their Opera House performance was, in the words of one audience member, “just like Dublin pubs in the 1960s,” filled with songs both sad (“Grace”) and spirited .  Finishing with a medley of the Irish national anthem (sung in Gaelic) and the “Star Spangled Banner,” the Ramblers headed over to Salt hill Pub.

Earlier in the evening, the weekly Irish Sessions, led by Chris Stevens and Roger Burridge, played in the center of the room.  Musicians improvising jigs and reels included Jeremiah McClane of Nightingale, and Krista Lampe of the Upper Valley Music Center.  Pints poured, and a Champions League football match between Juventas and Chelsea played in the background.

Ramblers guitarist/vocalist Derrick Keane sat down in the circle and was soon joined by McGuinness.   Even without a microphone, Keane’s voice soared over the crowded pub.  Later, bass player Tom Miller joined his mates, and three played past midnight, accompanied by two fiddles and a bodhrán.

Though typically less star-studded, the Irish Sessions are a weekly fixture at Salt hill, located on the Lebanon Green.
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Local Rhythms – There’s Irish, Then There’s Salt Hill

lrnewsmall.jpgEverybody’s going green this weekend. Murphy’s in Sunapee has a leprechaun DJ and a contest with an Ireland vacation as grand prize, Hullabaloo in Claremont features green beer, something you won’t find in Dublin, and Guinness – something you will.

For something more authentic, Killarney in Ludlow is a real Irish bar, or you could get in line before sunrise for a chance to see the band Flogging Molly’s annual acoustic set, complete with bohdrain and accordion, at the Black Rose in Boston.

Anyone can hang a shamrock on the wall for St. Patrick’s Day, but there’s really only one local watering hole where being Irish is a 365-day a year condition – Salt Hill Pub, on Lebanon’s Green.

The celebration has been running all month long. Two days ago Longford Row, a traditional band from Burlington, marked an unofficial return of the weekly Irish Sessions; they resume in earnest at the end of the month. The Pub also made a foray into concert promotion. Tuesday, Galway’s Saw Doctors played an energetic set, capped by a 7-song encore, to a fevered crowd at the Lebanon Opera House.

Inchicore, named after band front man Derrick Keane’s Ireland hometown, perform traditional songs about, says Keane, “Irish history and the patriot dead” tomorrow night. It’s certain to provide a rousing lead-in to the big day.

At Salt Hill, March 17 commences at 9 AM with the ceremonial “pouring of the first pint,” followed by a traditional Irish breakfast of fried eggs, thick cut bacon, bangers, along with two pate-type sausages called black and white pudding. Oh, and a side of beans.

“It’s the kind of thing you’d find in any pub in Ireland,” says Salt Hill owner Josh Tuohy.

The pub is also sponsoring, along with Harpoon Brewery, the annual “Shamrock Shuffle” 5K race at 11 AM. There’s also a 1-mile “fun walk” for those still recovering from morning pints.

Music starts at 4 with the Roger Kahle Zigzag Band, a traditional group that will pack up at the end of their set, and head for Salt Hill’s new location in Newport’s Eagle Block. There also be, says Josh Tuohy, “random step dancing and drive-by bagpipes.”

O’hanleigh, a year-round Salt Hill favorite, closes out the evening beginning at 9.

Now, if being Irish isn’t your thing, here’s what the rest of the weekend looks like:

Thursday: New Kind of Blue, Sophie & Zeke’s – This sort of sultry jazz is the antithesis of Irish music. You won’t hear Emily Lanier sing “Danny Boy,” but the songs she does sing – “I Get A Kick Out of You,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Route 66” – are smooth and elegant. It’s a biweekly tradition that doesn’t ever get old. Tomorrow, S&Z’s welcomes pure bluegrass with the Spiral Farm Band.

Friday: Sarah Blair & Friends, Seven Stars Center (Sharon, VT) – Blair is one of Vermont’s best fiddle players. She celebrates the release of her new record by teaming with Ben Power and Colin McCaffrey for an evening of high-powered music infused with Celtic traditions. Power plays flute and bohdrain and is also a first-rate singer. Multi-instrumentalist McCaffrey brings a down-home elegance to the project.

Saturday: Sun King, Heritage Tavern – Straight up rock and roll from one of the area’s favorite party bands. Word this week of the club’s sale was quickly followed with assurances that live music Saturdays would continue under the new management. That’s good news, as some of the area’s most interesting talent passes through this Charlestown landmark.

Sunday: Blues Jam, Off the Green – I received word via Dave Clark’s weekly email that this regular Woodstock jam session is going great. Last Sunday, Clark joined guitarists Terry Diers and Jason Twigg-Smith, upright bassist Lisa Rojak and harp player Jed Dickinson. When the playing commenced, says Clark, “a bunch of folks drifted in off the street and we ended up having a nice little blues jam.” Sounds perfect.

Tuesday: Mark Vogel, Canoe Club – Called a Swedophile, if that’s a word, by John Chapin, Vogel plays an interesting mix of music – “blues, country, jug band and folk, woven into a tapestry of tales about hanging on and letting, coming together and falling apart.” He performed at Canoe a few months ago with an all-Swede band, so this is a bit of a departure I suppose. Vogel plays solo, accompanying himself on guitar.

Wednesday: Keb’Mo’, Lebanon Opera House – I mention this show for two reasons. First, to point out the high caliber of performers that swing through the area. Second, to let anyone thinking of seeing this master of the American blues-rock idiom know that the show is sold out. There’s a waiting list if you’re really desperate, but thankfully no one’s scalping seats on EBay. When that happens, I’m moving to Yarmouth.