St. Patrick's Week
When you’re in a Boston based Irish band, it’s St. Patrick’s Week, not day. It’s probably the highlight of the year, but it’s also the most exhausting time you’ll experience. I guess the holiday season started for us on Thursday, March 10, at the Claddagh Pub
in Lawrence, Mass. We love playing there - great big open room, large stage with professional sound, and friendly owners & staff.
On Friday, the weekend journey started. We left Boston around 3 in the afternoon, piled into a large passenger van with our gear in a U-Haul trailer. Lots of traffic and a couple of McDonald’s & bathroom stops later, we were in New Jersey at Maloney’s Pub & Grill
for a last minute replacement gig. Maloney’s is a brand new place in Matawan with a great menu, beautiful interior, and a huge beer selection. We were supposed to play that night in Boston, but the venue canceled just a few days before. Maloney’s helped us out by booking us at the last minute, conveniently on the way to Washington DC. Try the Irish Sushi - corned beef strips on little mashed potato beds with a tasty wasabi sauce.
About 3 in the morning, we finished disassembling & packing everything back up and hit the road for DC. Running on fumes, we barely made it to a gas station off of the Garden State Parkway. The rest of us were accused of being lackadaisical in the search for gas by a grumpy accordion player, resulting in a running joke that still hasn’t gotten old (example - new chorus for Whiskey in the Jar
, ‘lackadaisical, lackadaisical, we’re almost out of gas’).
Later that morning, we stopped at a rest area on 95 in Maryland so the driver and his intrepid navigator (I can’t really sleep in a moving car anyway) could get a couple of hours of sleep. Interesting side note - the mens room stall doors looked like they were designed for 4 foot tall people. It’s more than a little disconcerting. I was completely stumped as to why (the drummer/driver thought it was a Maryland thing, but I told him no), but the singer got it right away - something about discouraging people with a wide stance.
Around 10AM Saturday (3/14), we pulled into RFK Stadium in DC for ShamrockFest, Irish music’s largest outdoor frat party. It was a great experience for us, one we couldn’t possibly pass up in spite of the ridiculous travel schedule. Getting our foot into the door of the festival scene and DC at the same time was a big thing, and so was playing on a bill that included Carbon Leaf & Flogging Molly. Unfortunately, being the new guys, we were on at 1PM, about 5 minutes after doors opened. Although we were on the main Irish stage, it was on the complete opposite end of the festival from the entrance. We were probably halfway through the set before the crowd started to trickle in. It was still a success, the organizer said we were great, and I got to see lots of old friends. Living in a new place, it was nice to be the guy who knows everyone for a change. We had to bug out early though, at 4PM, in order to get back to Boston for the next gig we couldn’t pass up…
Many miles and stops later, we got back in town around 2AM. I was home & in bed by 3 and back up around 9 for the South Boston St. Patrick’s Parade. Another event not to be missed. We fixed up a trailer, set up (and screwed down) our gear inside, and got ready for what has to be the largest annual parade around
We were at the tail end of the parade, and most of the people watching seemed happy to have some loud, boisterous music. When we passed the Gold Star Mothers viewing platform, we launched into Wild Rover just for them. They sang along, as did former mayor Ray Flynn when we passed the Comcast tv area (where they got a nice close-up of a handsome fiddler). We also posed for a group picture with our best friend.
Once the parade was over (it lasted from about 1 - 4PM), we broke everything down, loaded the gear back into the trailer, and made our way to Worcester. We played there at Tammany Hall
from around 7 until midnight, and some caught a quick nap beforehand in the comfy little band room.
Finally, we could get a full night’s sleep. Well, those of us who didn’t have to work on Monday could.
Monday night…countdown to St. Patrick’s Day at McGann’s in downtown Boston, where we played with London’s Bible Code Sundays
. Another act was performing a few blocks away at the Boston Garden, someone called Britney Spears. McGann’s had a healthy pre-Britney crowd, including several Justin wannabes. I hope they were carding. We had an average crowd for our sets, though once Britney finished a few came back.
We managed 2 hours of sleep before having to get up to start the big day. We started early at McFadden’s, back in downtown Boston, playing from 7 - 10AM. Fortunately, they had a nice breakfast buffet going that we hit up during the first break. Ahh, a nice breakfast somewhere without Egg McMuffin on the menu.
After McFadden’s, we walked the gear a couple blocks away to Ned Devine’s at Faneuil Hall
. There, we played all afternoon until 8PM, with some breaks for dinner & Irish dancers. The news was there to chronicle the fun
. We met people from California, Canada, DC, Maryland, and Ohio, coming to Boston to experience St. Patrick’s Day. Talking to a guy from Maryland, I realized I was pretty much doing the same thing. By the time we left, we were ready to collapse. However, we still had a little longer to go…
Tuesday night was back at McGann’s. Here’s how you know we were completely spent - the entire night, the singer had a full Guinness & a shot of Jameson on stage…untouched. A video of us throughout the day would have been pretty interesting, recording the gradual degradation. We put on our game faces, gave 110%, took it one song at a time, really hung in there, and so on. Thankfully, we had nothing on Wednesday except for sleep. Lots of sleep. Unless, of course, you had to work. Which I didn’t.
Thursday was back at Ned Devine’s, again with the Bible Codes. A good time was had by all. I think.At this point, it all kind of blends together. I had to consult the show schedule to be sure. Friday night was the end of the season in my mind. We played a fantastic new venue out in Southbridge called The Cannery
. It was about an hour & 20 minutes away but totally worth it. The owners are trying to create a music mecca for the area, and they’re doing everything right. The sound system is top notch, the room acoustics are excellent, and the sound guy (who’s also a partner) works hard to make the sound just right. There’s also a great Irish pub in the building. If it was closer, I’d probably live there (which is entirely possible as they have apartments for rent, too). As it is, I can’t wait to play there again. Just look at how excited I was: