Spent the day at the Irish Festival today, and let me tell you it was hot. Not just the weather either, although obviously with the sun blazing down and the temp well in the 90’s, the weather certainly was hot. But the music at the Celtic Rock stage was hot as well. I arrived just before 3PM. The band scheduled to go on at 3, Seanchai, features Chris Byrne, formerly of Black 47. I had heard about this new band, and I knew they were something different. I understood how different this was going to be before the whole band even hit the stage. Their DJ, a red-headed white girl from Brooklyn (yeah my hometown!!!), was cranking out a traditional Irish tune on the turntable, giving it a little hip-hop mix. That right there is something you don’t see every day. The rest of their set consisted of further street hip-hop mixed with Irish music, and even featured the sax player playing two different sax’s at the same time, also not something you see everyday. Granted it’s probably not for everyone, but it’s an experience and I really enjoyed it. Next up was Donegal X-press, a band out of Baltimore. I had also heard good things about them, and they did not disappoint. Seems like they brought their own fan club up from Baltimore too, as there was a small group of their loyal fans in attendance. I was impressed with them too, like any good Irish band, they brought a good mix of political, personal and story-telling lyrics, and a whole lot of fun.
At this point, I had determined to leave my nice shady spot and walk around the rest of the cultural exhibits, shops, games, etc. I was hoping to find a nice Celtic picture frame or something similar for Angela to take to her new job, but no luck on that front. Made it back over to the Celtic Rock stage to catch the last bit of Tempest, who also did a nice job with the bits I heard. No offense to them, but they were the one band I thought I could miss for a chance to explore the rest of the festival. I had to miss someone!
My nice shady spot was taken though, but that was ok, because Black 47 was up next, and that meant a required visit to the front of the stage for some serious dancing and musical enjoyment. (And sweating!!!) I first saw Black 47 3 years ago at the same festival and they’ve since become one of my favorite bands. They rocked tonight, as usual, and Fred Parcells became my personal hero for tossing me a cold one from the stage. The ice-cold beer can on the back of my neck after an hour of being up front was the best feeling I could have possibly had at that moment. The band tossed out a case of bottled water and a few beers to their adoring fans. A well-deserved thank you for grooving to their music in the heat.
After that sweat-fest, I abandoned the front stage area in search of cold water, and came back to enjoy The Saw Doctors set from the back of the crowd. Quite a large crowd had gathered in the area by now, but that was alright. I ran into a coworker and chatted for awhile, then settled in and really found myself liking the Saw Doctors quite a bit.
All in all, a great day of fun, music, and Irish culture. Also, for those of you in the RIAA, you might be interested to know that I picked up two more cd’s from these bands today, bringing the total of cd’s I’ve purchased after being exposed to bands through the years at this particular festival to 13, with a future Seanchai purchase coming. All those purchases from, basically, free exposure to bands in a niche market that I don’t get to hear on broadcast radio. Imagine that…
Four of these 5 bands (Black 47 being the exception) will be playing tomorrow (Sunday) as well. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend it! The music itself is worth the $7 admission to the festival. I have a family commitment, or I’d be back as well!
By the way, a free link to the first person who can correctly guess the pronunciation of Seanchai and tell me what it means. There’s your Irish word, and your music review, for the day. 🙂
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