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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 01:40 am

Green days are coming

With St. Pat’s on Monday, look for a weekend of celebrating

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The Emerald Underground will be the hardest working band here for the next few days.

Oh yes, laddies and lassies, it’s that special time of year in which we celebrate the Irish in all of us. This year St. Patrick’s Day falls on Monday, so anything this weekend up to and including March 17 is fair game for anyone caring to become a drunken blade or a inebriated rover for the cause of the Emerald Isle. Once second only to the firmly entrenched New Year’s Eve as a drinking holiday, St. Patrick’s Day has slid to a distant and dismal third as Thanksgiving Eve has become the numero uno party day in America. But as we well know, the Irish are plucky and resourceful people, so who knows what the future holds? Just remember: back in the 19th century, the situation for the Irish in America was rather bleak — it wasn’t unusual to see signs in business windows advising, “Irish need not apply” — but now everybody wants to be a member of the green society on St. Patrick’s Day. But enough of this blabbering in support of drunkenness. Just because St. Patrick’s Day has become an event of popular inebriation does not mean booze and the consumption of it is all the Irish have given to the world. And when we say “Irish,” please understand that to be what is Celtic and commonly referred to as the Seven Celtic Nations. This includes, according to various Web sites and one central-Illinois Celtic scholar, the areas of Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Galicia, Isle of Man, Brittany, and Ireland itself. So as you watch the parade, gargle green beer, or perhaps guzzle a Half-and-Half (no Black-and-Tans please, but that’s another story) while sipping Irish whiskey, remember to honor not only those inhabitants of Eire but all Celtic people, whatever or wherever they may be. Of course, one fabulous addition to our culture is the music of the Celtic nation. From folk songs to traditional favorites to modern caricatures such as Riverdance, Celtic music has influenced and infiltrated our popular culture. It’s especially true during the St. Patrick’s Day season, when “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” sounds reasonable and “Danny Boy” rises above its maudlin lyrics to bring a tear to those ever-smiling eyes. Besides the outstanding and ubiquitous music of the St. Andrew’s Society Pipe and Drum Band, Exorna and the Emerald Underground are the standard-bearers of Celtic music in the Springfield area. Exorna plays elsewhere this weekend, so the EU will be the hardest working band in Sangamon County for the next few days. The group features drum, guitar, bass, keyboards, vocal harmonies, and, for that true Celtic sparkle, fiddle and flute. The music ranges from traditional to contemporary, with several interesting stops in between. I’ve had the great honor of working up a few tunes with the band and plan on being somewhere with them on their Green Day tour over the next few days. The schedule, available on the Web at www.theemeraldunderground.net, puts them at Robbie’s 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday. On Saturday they’re at Marly’s Pub noon-4 p.m. and at the Lime Street Café 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. They perform again at Lime Street 8 p.m.-midnight Monday. Try to celebrate without feeling too green around the gills the next day.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com..
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