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Thursday, March 14, 2013 07:05 am

St. Pat’s party


Mulligan Munro gets their green on Saturday, March 16, 9 pm, at Norb Andy’s.

Welcome one and all to the great American invention of St. Patrick’s Day. Once contained within our Irish-American communities, St. Patty’s Day now involves all who want to be included in the delightful debauchery deemed necessary in the party process of this Gaelic gala. Fortunately for us, the encompassing celebration of the Seven Celtic Nations (see if you can name them) and Irish heritage contains much music and we’re very well represented in that area here in Springfield.

All day and all night, be on the lookout for drums, pipers and dancers from folks involved with the very active St. Andrew’s Society of Central Illinois. The award-winning group often splits up after the parade to accommodate all the requests for performances. The Illinois Elks Pipes and Drums, another area traditional band, also participates in the parade and could be anywhere and everywhere afterwards.

During the party, every bar in town seems to have some form of entertainment and sometimes it looks like The Emerald Underground plays each one of them. I’m proud to say I’ve been a member of this longest running of area Celtic-based-music bands for a couple of years and music guesting for a few more. I can happily state, after a time of rebuilding and renewal, we have new songs and arrangements to add to the long list of crowd favorites the band built through a decade of live performance. Check out the many-faceted TEU, still going strong, early Friday evening at Robbie’s, Saturday after the parade at Marly’s and at Lime Street Café on Saturday night.

For years I’ve been performing with Rick Dunham as McKinney and Hennessy (the names of our actual Irish ancestors) after Rick (sometimes known as Elvis Himselvis) first acquainted me with the wonderful music of the Clancy Brothers. Rick and I, along with the flute and whistle accompaniment of Theresa O’Hare, play at the Celtic Mist Pub Friday night from 9 to 10:30 (with my band to follow) and at the Albatross on Sunday 2 to 5. And as you know how those musicians can be, likely folks from The Emerald Underground will pop up on Friday at the Celtic after Robbie’s and Rick (as Mr. McKinney, mind you) surely will be singing “Danny Boy” at Lime Street on Saturday backed by the full TEU.

Now comes Skibbereen fronted by former TEU guitarist and vocalist Hank Helton, whom once bitten by the Celtic-music bug not only made a trip to Ireland to sit in on pub sessions (the term for traditional Celtic jams), but also wrote a song about his experience in Gus O’Connor’s Pub. Skibbereen recently added fiddler Rachel Gamble and continues with Steve Myers on bass, plus Hank’s son Colin on drums. The Skibs hit Catch 22 after the parade and Crow’s Mill Pub during the nighttime playtime, plus do a couple of private parties to fulfill their part of the great St. Pat’s party.

Mulligan Munro, featuring Mark Butler, once of Yorkshire, England, play “full-tilt, Irish-American folk music” and get their gig on at Norb Andy’s on Saturday night. Exorna, our other Irish group proudly fronted by Victor McMullan of County Derry (the only person in these bands actually from Ireland), performs out of town all weekend.

Congratulations to the Tin Can Pub for a year of being a bar as Scott Francis Kelly celebrates this weekend with The Timmys and Buk on Friday, a Dead Patrick’s Day Party on Saturday with the Hal O’ Gin and the Isotopes doing Grateful Dead covers and Irish ditties from 2 to 5 in the afternoon and Vanity Crash from Cleveland on Tuesday.

Go green, my friends, and add a little orange for color.

Contact Tom Irwin at

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