Irish Music Everywhere
St. Patrick need not apply
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
In a lot of places, Irish music is a sound heard only on St. Patrick’s Day. In such locales, finding Irish music played live—even on St. Patrick’s Day—is difficult to impossible.
In this region, every day is St. Patrick’s Day.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it is true that if one wants to find oneself awash in the sweet sounds of the Emerald Isle, one need not search too hard or travel very far. Bellingham hosts a weekly Irish night (at a place called Greene’s, natch) and the downtown core is overtaken once a year for the Bellingham Irish Festival—an event that has nothing whatsoever to do with a certain saint and his much-ballyhooed day. For those living slightly farther south, Mount Vernon boasts the Celtic Arts Foundation, which is both a multimillion-dollar venue as well as a nonprofit organization that awards thousands of dollars in scholarships and grants every year to help encourage and preserve Celtic culture through the arts.
Even for a place on a constant quest to explore all forms of Irish music, one night, show or festival at a time, the upcoming concert calendar is an embarrassment of riches. Call it coincidence, maybe it’s the luck of the Irish—these are gifts better enjoyed than analyzed.
The first stop on our Irish show-going odyssey is Mount Vernon’s Lincoln Theatre, where Lunasa will make an appearance on the historic stage for a Fri., March 1 concert. The band takes its name from the Celtic harvest festival Lughnasadh, which takes its name from Lugh, which is not a fancy Irish way of spelling “Lou,” but an Irish god. Evidently, when he wasn’t wielding his unstoppable fiery spear and swinging around his sword dubbed the “answerer” or inventing horse-racing (Irish mythology is so badass), Lugh was a patron of the arts, as every refined Irish god should be. I cannot speak to Lunasa’s abilities with spears and swords, but they’ve got enviable talents when it comes to the fiddle (i.e. champion fiddler Sean Smyth), flute (as played by Kevin Crawford), pipes (Cillian Vallely, who, among other things, recently recorded with Bruce Springsteen), bass (courtesy of original Waterboy Trevor Hutchinson), and more. That’s a whole bunch of impressive musical resumes on one stage together, which is likely how Lunasa came to be dubbed the “hottest Irish acoustic group on the planet.” They’re currently on a west coast tour before journeying to parts farther east, so catch them while you can. I feel confident it’s what Lugh would want. Where: 712 S. First St. Cost: $20-$35 Info: http://www.lincolntheatre.org
When I said we’re on a constant quest to explore all forms of Irish music, I meant the traditional forms and structures we’re familiar with as well as the kind of music made by Vancouver’s Reid Jamieson. He recently traveled to County Cork in Ireland to record his latest album, and emerged with something called Me Daza, which either means “most excellent” or “I’m dying,” depending on who you ask. Jamieson collaborated on the album with his wife and longtime musical co-conspirator Carolyn Victoria Mill, and together they crafted songs about Ireland’s abortion referendum, coping with mental illness and other weighty topics. The dynamic duo will play Fri., March 1 at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center, and if you buy your tickets in advance, you’ll get a free download of Me Daza. Where: 1314 Harris Ave. Cost: $20 Info: http://www.firehouseperformingartscenter.com
I don’t know what possessed the talented trio who hails from Ennis in County Clare to name their musical project Socks in the Frying Pan, but they did and now they’re stuck with their stranger-than-most moniker. They don’t seem to mind, however, as it suits their quirky offbeat style and ever-present sense of humor. But don’t be fooled by guitarist Aodan Coyne’s jokes or the sibling rivalry of brothers Shane and Fiachra Hayes (on accordion, and fiddle and banjo, respectively), they are highly skilled, award-winning Irish music-makers who have become noteworthy as much for their nimble and fast-moving fingers as they have for their charismatic stage presence. They’ll bring the entire lively and engaging package to Mount Vernon for a Fri., March 1 show at McIntyre Hall. Where: 2501 E. College Way Cost: $25-$35 Info: http://www.mcintyrehall.org
The last stop on our Irish musical tour is the aforementioned Celtic Arts Foundation’s Littlefield Celtic Center in Mount Vernon. Should you find yourself there on Sun., March 3, you will bear witness to Daymark, a trio comprised of Will Woodson (flute, uilleann pipes), Dan Foster (fiddle), and Eric McDonald (guitar, vocals). Daymark’s members hail from England, Scotland, and the United States, but thanks to extensive study, travel and immersion, their sound is Irish to the core. They play the songs of Irish dance halls of the 1920s and 1930s, of the Northern England immigrant pubs, of the Donegal country fiddlers, but filter it through their own more modern musical sensibilities. And, of course, they would not be Irish musicians worth their weight in four-leaf clovers if they didn’t play fast, furious and with great heart. Where: 1124 Cleveland Ave. Cost: $20-$25 Info: http://www.celticarts.org
Come In From The Cold
Hot nights at the Wild Buffalo
Everyone has a friend like me. I wear long sleeves during the summer, long underwear during the winter and am never without auxiliary layers of clothing, just in case. In other words, I am always cold.
I long to be one of those hardy folks who don technical layers and then tromp into the…
St. Patrick’s Day
Happy (almost) holiday
Like most occasions Bellingham wholeheartedly embraces and enthusiastically celebrates, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t a proper holiday. The banks are open, kids have to go to school, no one gets the day off work.
Unless, of course, March 17 falls on a Sunday, as it does this year. In that…
For as long as I have been an observer of Bellingham’s music scene, I’ve heard musicians talk about how there is no tour stop like this one, no audience like a Bellingham crowd. At first, I was skeptical, thinking it to be the equivalent of a hackneyed pickup line tried out on as many…