Music

St. Patrick’s Day

Let’s get lucky

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I’d like to think this region has the market cornered when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day madness—because, like Halloween, it’s an occasion we embrace with what some might call a little too much enthusiasm—but if we compare ourselves to Irish strongholds elsewhere in America, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the green-tinged insanity this holiday provokes. However, when St. Patrick’s Day coincides with a weekend as it does this year—it’s Sat., March 17, for those who require a reminder—I like to think we can give anyone a run for their money.

So, don your green, corn your beef and give your favorite leprechaun a call and read on for a smattering of places where you can set your pinching fingers free and let your Erin Go Bragh.

When St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday, there’s only one way to kick off the party: by starting it on Friday. Which happens to be when some of the weekend’s bigger events take place, all of which are St. Patrick’s traditions on their own.

The first is the eighth annual “Ceilidh-bration,” which happens at Mount Vernon’s Littlefield Celtic Center. The event is wildly popular, probably because it allows you to experience many delights of the Emerald Isle, all under the same roof. Corned beef and colcannon are on the dinner menu, you’ll be regaled with the many fine musicians that are part of the Celtic Arts Center community, and step dancers will wow you with their fancy footwork and flying ringlets. The only catch: It sells out every year and just a handful of tickets were left at press time. You know what to do. Where: 1124 Cleveland Ave. Info: http://www.celticarts.org.

All the way from County Sligo comes Dervish, who have been bringing the sounds of West Ireland to audiences all over the world for a quarter of a century. Their name suits them, as their show is a whirlwind of passionate vocals and dazzling instrumentals that caused the BBC to describe them as an “icon of Irish music.” They’re currently touring in advance of an upcoming album, and we get them on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, at Mount Vernon’s McIntyre Hall. Tickets are $30-$40 and still available. The luck of the Irish indeed. Where: 2501 E. College Way Info: http://www.mcintyrehall.org

Also happening in the verdant green environs of the Skagit County is Geoffrey Castle’s annual St. Patrick’s Celebration, now in its 13th year. But the beloved “violin wizard” won’t be going it alone at the historic Lincoln Theater. He’ll have the award-winning Seattle Irish Dance Company, the all-star Celtic Night Band featuring Dan Connolly, bagpiper Don Scobie, and other special guests on hand to make the most of the occasion. And proceeds from the $15-$25 ticket price benefit the Rick Epting Foundation for the Arts. Where: 712 S. First St. Info: http://www.lincolntheatre.org

When St. Patrick’s Day itself—Sat., March 17—arrives, so does an enticing Irish stew of entertainment options, so many of them, in fact, I cannot detail them all. But it’s important to mention the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which will make its merry and very green way through downtown Bellingham to signal that the shenanigans may officially begin.

Speaking of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and shenanigans, the former was the brainchild of Boundary Bay Brewery’s Janet Lightner and the latter is what the venerable brewpub has titled their massive daylong annual celebration of all things Irish. Yes, St. Patrick’s Day at Boundary is a complete and total madhouse. But they’ve been doing this long enough that the chaos is controlled and even somewhat orderly. Corned beef and cabbage can be had, as can Irish stew, shepherds pie and more. Music happens not only in the taproom, but also in the Mountain Room and the beer garden, and includes Flattery, Robert Sarazin Blake and the Dublin Letters, Giants Causeway, the Atlantics, the Devilly Brothers, Gallowglass, Peadar MacMahon, and more. The Penk O’Donnell Dancers will perform at various intervals, as will the Bellingham Firefighters Pipes & Drums Band. If you’ve never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at Boundary, you’ve never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Bellingham. Where: 1107 Railroad Ave. Info: http://www.bbaybrewery.com

If you’ve yet to make your way to Fairhaven and Lovitt Restaurant, St. Patrick’s Day is an excellent opportunity to see what their “relaxed farm-to-table” vibe is all about. The menu promises to be chock full of traditional fare (I don’t know what relaxed farm-to-table corned beef tastes like, but I’m more than willing to find out), and Lindsay Street, a much-loved local St. Patrick’s Day staple, will fill the expansive room with lively Celtic music. It’s a match made on the Emerald Isle. Where: 1114 Harris Ave. Info: http://www.lovittrestaurant.com

Last St. Patrick’s Day, as I was dashing across a Fairhaven street in a downpour, I paused to watch a group of Irish dancers in full regalia make their way up the block and into Skylark’s Hidden Cafe. I followed, intent upon a traditional corned beef dinner, and opened the door to Fairhaven’s longest-standing St. Patrick’s Day tradition. For as long as he’s owned Skylark’s, Don White has been brining hundreds of pounds of corned beef and inviting the public to partake. He augments the delicious dinner items (and they are delicious, as I can attest) with traditional Irish pub music and a healthy dose of Irish spirit (or spirits, whichever you prefer). Where: 1308 11th St. Info: http://www.skylarkshiddencafe.com

Not far from Skylark’s, Stone’s Throw Brewery is getting in on the St. Patrick’s Day action as well. First, they will march with their float in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and then it’s back to their homey brewery to get the party started. Gallowglass will make one of their approximately one jillion appearances over the course of the weekend, as will the Devilly Brothers. Badd Dog Blues Society will give the whole affair a less-traditional spin and Back East BBQ will pull up and provide the grub. Kegs will be tapped and beer will be flowing, but you’ll have to show up to find out if they’ll be pouring the green stuff. Where: 1009 Larrabee Ave. Info: http://www.stonesthrowbrewco.com

Last, but never ever least is Bellingham’s very own Irish pub, Uisce, where every day is St. Patrick’s Day but even more so when it’s really St. Patrick’s Day. As is their custom, the party starts early and goes late into the night, with performers such as Peadar MacMahon, Flattery, East Coast Dave, the Devilly Brothers, and dropping in to make the bar even more Irish than it typically is. Lots of places claim to throw the biggest St. Patrick’s Day in town, but Uisce says it and delivers—and the ample supply of Irish whiskey doesn’t hurt either. Where: 1319 Commercial St. Info: http://www.uisceirishpub.com

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