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Thursday, March 10, 2011 07:30 pm

Greening up early


Singer-songwriter Kim-Char Meredith performs at the Unity Church on Saturday at 7pm.

The world may seem a little greener a little sooner than usual this season, but it isn’t because of the climate change issue. For those of you who follow the Irish calendar, it so happens for 2011 March 17 is on a Thursday, but Springfield’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Marching Band parade is the Saturday before, on March 12, thereby bringing us the Irish greenery imagery a wee bit earlier than usual.

For folks simply interested in the debauchery side of St. Patrick’s Day brouhahas this arrangement affords another day to legitimately party (like you need an excuse) and several good people take advantage of this increased frequency of a society-supported substance abuse opportunity. For those of us in the music appreciation business it also means more chances to hear Irish and Celtic music. Between the bagpipes (Scottish pipes are part of the Celtic Nation and included in the Irish celebration) and the influx of Celtic bands around town, plus the general love of making music within that culture, we’re in for a grand dose of Irish-oriented live music over the next week.

On Friday, March 11, at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, a wonderful tribute titled “Ella! Ella! Ella!” presents Chicagoland jazz singers Dee Alexander, Spider Saloff and Frieda Lee demonstrating various aspects of the musical legacy of Ella Fitzgerald. Popular acts at the late Remy’s on Monroe, the three female vocalists are world class performing singers and with a name like Fitzgerald, how could it not fit in during the St. Pat’s goings on? I don’t think there’ll actually be much Irish music happening at the Ella tribute, but I couldn’t pass up the obvious Emerald Isle surname connection.

Another silly name game gets us to Kim-Char Meredith, an award-winning singer-songwriter with an Irish-leaning last name playing the Unity Church on Saturday at 7 p.m. Meredith opened for Melissa Etheridge and performs a high-energy, positive, life-affirming show combining good music with a good message for a good time.

As far as real Irish music shows, Hank Helton’s Skibereen kicks off by 7 at J.P. Kelly’s on Thursday and around 5:30 at Robbie’s on Friday as our latest Celtic band debuts for the St. Pat’s celebrations. They finish up next week in Bloomington, performing their brand of pub-style tunes on St. Patrick’s Day proper at Maggie Miley’s and Fat Jack’s. The Emerald Underground inaugurates a flurry of area gigs at 9 p.m. on Friday night at Marly’s and continues there from noon to three on Saturday. Later they head west to Lime Street Café for an 8:30 to 12:30 show with probable pipe and drum sightings (and hearings) included. Marly’s keeps the action going after the parade with Red Rebel County from Chicago around 4, then X-KRUSH 10 to 2 to finish out the night in staking its claim as a once-a-year Irish bar with a year-round Irish name.

Ralph and Juanita’s Acoustic By Request show hits the floor at the Dublin Pub at Vinegar Hill, playing from 5 to 8 p.m. on March 12. No doubt the corn beef and cabbage, Guinness and Jameson, Danny Boys and Irish Eyes will all be there in abundance. With the catalogue of songs between Ralph and Juanita, the luck of the Irish should be with you to hear a nice selection of your favorite Celtic classics. Over at Norb Andy’s (live music at Norb’s!) Mark Butler and Josh Parr become the Fake McCoys, playing beautifully real Irish and other folk music in a traditional and unique style from 8 to 11. As far as I can tell the Celtics take a break until Thursday, when The Emerald Underground plays an encore performance at Lime Street starting at 7:30 for St. Pat’s dinnertime music.

Still looking for that pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow.

Contact Tom Irwin at

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