Given the treatment of Irish immigrants by Americans in the middle and late 19th century, it’s nice to know that those who were once scorned are now praised. Somehow those plucky Irish went from being the scourge of the earth to getting their very own holiday. As they say, time wounds all heels and heals all wounds. So, in that vein, on to St. Patrick’s Day and the celebration, commercialization, and perpetuation of Celtic culture in America. We call it Celtic so that the Scottish bagpipers can participate in the party, and thank goodness that they do.
This weekend, the St. Andrew’s Society of Central Illinois Pipes and Drums is scheduled to be beating and blowing in the downtown marching-band parade, at the Lime Street Café and the Brewhaus, and wherever else they damn well please, including schools and half of the taverns in Springfield.
If you want to hear really traditional Irish folk music, you’d better think about leaving town and head for Chicago. But first try downing a few pints of Guinness and a shot or two of Jameson’s whiskey, then start belting our whatever snippets of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” or “McNamara’s Band” your alcohol-addled mind remembers — and see whether that’s enough to satisfy those Celtic cravings. If not, remove yourself to Marly’s Pub on Saturday afternoon to listen to a couple of bands in the Celtic-rock genre. Stone Ring Circle features a fiddle, pennywhistle, flute, bass, guitar, percussion, and some keyboard-synthesized orchestration parts to yield enjoyable music with an Emerald Isle flavor. Indianapolis, that hotbed of Irish music, supplies us with Mother Grove, a quartet focused on original rock with a Celtic lilt firmly entrenched in the spirit of Ireland. Later Roxschool takes on the Irish-relay baton, but by then you’ll probably be ready for some ’80s rock anyway.
On Sunday you’ll be groggily grasping a handful of desperately collected Kelly-green souvenirs that will trigger foggy memories of the night before. You know — “Where did I get that goofy green nose, and how did this silly blinking beer-promotion shamrock get there?”
On March 19 at Marly’s Pub (9 W. Old State Capitol Plaza; 217-522-2280) Stone Ring Circle performs from noon to 4 p.m. Mother Grove takes over and plays until around 8 p.m., and, finally, Roxschool sets up and plays into the wee hours, quitting at 1 a.m. Just listen if you want to hear the St. Andrew’s Society of Central Illinois Pipes and Drums.