WRITTEN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER
For Digital First Media
Looking past the endless pub crawls and flowing green beer, one of the best parts about St. Patrick’s Day in the region is the wealth of opportunities to see bands that play Celtic music all year round at the peak of their popularity. From tonight at World Café Live where the John Byrne Band and No Irish Need Apply will be performing to Bill Monaghan & Celtic Pride at Sellersville Theater on the holiday itself next Tuesday, now’s the time to jump into the deep end of Irish music with excited revelers.
“For a musician, there’s nothing better than playing in front of super enthusiastic crowds of people,” says Joe Kirschen, lead guitarist for local Celtic band The Hooligans. “For Irish musicians, every gig that week or two surrounding St. Paddy’s Day is just that. It’s really the best holiday, when you think about it; everyone’s in great spirits, they’re all out to have a great time and spring is in the air.”
Like most bands from the area, The Hooligans have a packed schedule at this time of year. Today they play Fluke’s in Northeast Philadelphia from 6 to 8 p.m. and then head over to Dublin Square in Bordentown, NJ from 9 p.m. until close. Tomorrow is another two-day event, with the first show at the Green Parrot in Newton, from noon until 4 p.m. and then back over to New Jersey, at the Whitman Square Fire Hall for a beef and beer that is open to the public. Sunday the gents will be at the Red Rooster in the Northeast then take a day off before heading to Katy O’s at the Franklin Mills Mall on Tuesday from 4 to 8 .pm. and closing out the holiday at Philadelphia’s Sugarhouse Casino from 9 p.m. until close.
MORE ST. PATRICK’S DAY FUN HERE
“I just love the opportunity to play so many shows where so many people are pumped to hear Irish music, Kirschen adds. “There’s nothing like it.”
For most of the acts that play Celtic music, it’s not just about the holiday, but about teaching the masses about the history of the Emerald Isle through song and performance. This time of year just makes it easier to spread the word to more people.
“March, along with all of the events that happen during Irish History Month, provides a great opportunity for people to learn more about the Irish culture,” says Mike Boyce, who fronts one of not just the region but the nation’s preeminent Irish bands in Blackthorn. “Sure, we’re doing that sort of thing all year long, but the St. Patrick’s Day fanfare can often encourage those who aren’t yet connected to their heritage a chance to do just that.”
Blackthorn is also looking at a busy weekend before leaving Sunday for a series of gigs in Florida that will last until the end of the month. Locally, they’ll be at The Lucky Well in Ambler tonight and tomorrow will be headlining the third installment of the massive “Event in the Tent” at the Ridley Marina where it’ll be an all-day celebration of all things Irish with food, vendors, dance and, of course, music.
“Our Event in the Tent is one of those shows where kids, parents, and grand-parents can come together in one place to sing and dance and learn something new about Ireland and its rich culture,” adds Boyce. “I like to call it Ceol Agus Craic; that’s Gaelic for music and fun.”