Slainte Irish Festival

Posted on 2006-07-16 10:29

This is a modified version of a post I just made to the TdB message board: The family was bummed that it wasn't really feasible to truck down to PA to see Ned's band, the Trespassengers play at the 2nd annual NewBerry bash, but we had a great time at the Slainte Irish festival for the short time we were there (about 5 hours).

The girls danced themselves into exhaustion, and it was a lot of fun camping out with my en-kilted friend Sport and family and the Tim Cole entourage. Stuff we did:We settled down with camp chairs (and an umbrella, man, were we prepared) and watched Morning Star play. They are out of New York (though the leader of the band is from Ireland) with Bernadette Fee on fiddle. They did a great version of the Bobby Sands classic Back Home in Derry , and started off a set of reels (which kicked) with Jay Ungar's theme from the PBS Civil War series, Ashokan Farewell . Uncle Ned has been playing that for a long time now so it was cool hearing somebody else set off a set with it.

The Makem and Spain Brothers (which includes three sons of Tommy Makem) did a set of classic Irish sing-along drinking tunes most of which we knew (and loved).

The Inishfree NY championship winners danced a bunch of sets to pre-recorded music (although I understand why they do it, I always cringe when I hear that pre-recorded music behind the dancers). Uncle Ned and I once played with their old band at the Stony Brook Fiddle Festival years ago, and it's hard enough dancing - but trying to dance and co-ordinate with a live band is harder still. The Inishfree NY school is run by Sean Reagan, brother of Kevin Reagan - who I knew from the TdB years ago and I think now runs the CT branch of the school. The dancers were awesome, and Erin sat transfixed with Amy watching their entire set.

When Fathom came on a lot of the older folks folded their chairs and ran. They're a Celtic rock band, and play electric guitars and have a full drum kit, etc. There's a link off their website to launch a player to hear some of their stuff. All of them were in kilts and could've been all set for an event. I was a bit leery, but they proved they could kick out an Celtic tune with the best of them. I dug the electric mandolin, and the lead guitarist played a Gibson a lot like mine which was cool. Their version of Back home in Derry was about twice as fast, but still great. They do Whiskey in the Jar (yes, the only Irish song Metallica does). My youngest danced in circles with the other kids for a looo-ong time to these guys, but we eventually split at around 6:45 and they were still on.

I would have liked to see Cherish the Ladies again, an awesome local Celtic group, but I'm sure they'll be at the Stony Brook Fiddle Festival on August 27th. If you've never been to that, don't miss it - they'll be teaming up with LITMA (Long Island Traditional Music Assn) this year, so there's bound to be a lot of acts. It's a 'bring a blanket and camp chairs' event at the old museums.

I picked up a couple of really cool Celtic tees at the Ink and Essence booth. This guy was definitely cool - out of Pottstown, PA he carries a crapload of Celtic inspired stuff, and he's kilt-wearer to boot.