By Eileen Murphy
Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, and Irish people just gotta sing and clap to their favorite Irish tunes on St. Patrick’s Day. Whether your taste runs to rock, folk, trad or hip-hop, there’s an Irish band performing this weekend to suit every taste. Below, you’ll find a selective mix of concerts taking place this weekend, but be sure to check the tri-state listings and the ads throughout the paper for the full scoop on what’s happening.
Thursday, March 15
Looking to get in touch with your spiritual side? Head to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for an Irish Heritage Concert starring Metropolitan Opera Soprano Maureen O’Flynn, the Glee Club of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. The concert takes place at 7:15 p.m. and is free to the public.
Kennedy’s Pub on West 57th Street, NYC will feature the Bronagh O’Rourke Band. The group, billed as "Ireland’s hottest new sound" will entertain patrons from Wednesday, March 14, through Sunday, March 18 (with, hopefully, a few eating and sleeping breaks thrown in). For information, call (212) 307-1722.
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The Irish Expo 2001 kicks off its weekend festivities with the Fifth Annual IBO Exhibition and celebration of Irish Heritage at Roseland, 239 West 52 St., NYC. The fun starts at 11 a.m. with an exhibition (and a very special guest of honor to open the show) and continues until 11 p.m., with a discussion at 6 p.m., "Irish in America: Success Stories from labor to Dot Com" and live music and dancing from 8-11 p.m. The Irish Expo 2001 is sponsored by Murphys USA, Labatts USA, irishabroad.com, IBO, HMV, Insanity and WFUV.
Friday, March 16
Nearly every Irish act worth their salt shows up in the tri-state area at some point during the festive season, which is why New York is Hooley Central in mid-March. This year, Dundalk’s most famous siblings (and international pop sensation) The Corrs will leave fans "Breathless" when they take over Radio City Music Hall on March 16. Harmonies will soar, and the glamour quotient should be up off the scale, as Andrea, Sharon, Caroline and Jim — who are all too talented and perfect-looking for their own good — are joined by Belfast singer Brian Kennedy (who’s also no slouch in the looks/talent department). There were still a handful of tickets available at press time. Call Ticketmaster at (212) 307-7171.
Also playing on St. Patrick’s Eve are Galway’s most famous export since the Claddagh ring, The Saw Doctors. The Tuam raiders (sorry — couldn’t resist) will take the stage to sing hits like "I Useta Lover" and "N-17," although if they get any more popular in New York, they’ll have to change that last one to "I-95." Fans note: demand for tickets has been so great, the band has moved from their usual Irving Plaza venue to the larger Roseland. For information, call Ticketmaster at (212) 307-7171.
Need some phat beats to get you in the mood for the big day? Then don’t miss Seanchai and the Unity Squad, fronted by former Black 47 member Chris Byrne. The band will bring their irresistible fusion of hip-hop, regg’ and trad to Connolly’s Pub on 47th Street, NYC, on March 16. We caught their act a few weeks ago in South Jersey, and are hopelessly hooked, so you know where we’ll be, post-Corrs and Saw Docs. For information, call (212) 867-3767.
Saturday, March 17
It wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day in New York without a performance by Ireland’s musical ambassadors, The Chieftains. Paddy Moloney and Company will be working their particular brand of magic at Carnegie Hall again this year, and we’re sure the stately hall will have trouble hanging on to its roof when the music really gets going. For information, call (212) 247-7800.
Those who prefer their music with more of an edge can head over to Webster Hall, 125 East 11 Street, NYC, for the Viper Ball, headlined by Shane MacGowan and the Popes. Thirty bands will rock the house, with Annie Minogue, Pop Mafia, Dry Heavers, Friday’s Child and Surrey Lane among the other bands appearing on the hall’s four stages. Music continues through midnight. For tickets and information, call Ticketmaster (212) 307-7171, or Webster Hall (212) 604-4804.
Need something a little more soothing? Head over to Town Hall, 123 West 43 St., NYC, to catch Mary Black in concert. Just the thought of her singing hits like "No Frontiers" and "A Song for Ireland" in that gorgeous voice of hers makes us feel like we’re standing on a far distant shore. For tickets and information, call Ticketmaster (212) 307-4100.
If you like your Irish music to be thought-provoking and really cool, head down to Wetlands, 161 Hudson St. New York, NY, to catch one — or both — of Black 47’s shows. The concerts will be recorded for the band’s next live album — and Mr. Kirwan, had better remember that he promised us he’d include "Fire of Freedom" on this one. The first show is open to all ages, and kicks off at 6:30 p.m. The second show starts at 10:30 p.m., and is open to the 18+ crowd. For information, call (212) 386-3600.
Fitzpatrick’s Hotel at Lexington Ave. and 57th Street, NYC, will feature the music of one of our favorite bands, the terrific Morning Star from 3-7 p.m. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop in just to hear Mary Courtney’s throaty singing.
Sunday, March 18
Feeling a little traditional on the day after the night before? Then head on over to Symphony Space, Broadway at 95th Street, NYC, where Karan Casey and Sharon Shannon will perform in concert. The show starts at 7 p.m., and with talent like that, it promises to be a good one. For details, call (212) 545-7536.
Monday, March 19
Viper Ball organizers have put together a special Irish Bartenders Ball, which will take place while everyone else is nursing hangovers — at Webster Hall. Many of the acts from the Viper Ball, including Shane MacGowan and The Popes, will appear at the Bartenders extravaganza as well. Music starts at 7:30 p.m. and continues until 4 a.m. And as an added treat for the ladies, the show will feature the hunky Chippendales dance troupe, so, ladies, bring plenty of dollar bills.
Looking for a place to have a quiet drink on St. Patrick’s Day? Dream on.
Every bar in the city, from the dingiest hole in the wall to the most upscale tavern, will be chock-a-block with parade marchers, parade watchers, cute cops, hunky firemen (finest, bravest — to us, they’re all fine) and just ordinary citizens this Saturday. And while we can’t tell you where to drink — this town has the best Irish bars outside of the ould sod itself — we can offer a few suggestions to make your revelry a bit more comfortable.
Rule No. 1: Decide where you’re going, and get there early. And we mean really early, as in around breakfast time. Most pubs will be serving food all day, and while it’s probably not an appetizing thought, the early bird really will catch the worm — or at least, a seat and a view of the television. We’re not advocating drinking the whole day — we’re a confirmed orange-juice-and-soda-water imbiber — but as the day wears on, the bar will get really packed. Stake out your territory, and do it quick.
Rule No. 2: Remember to tip the bartenders and waitresses who serve you, especially if you stay in one place for a good part of the day. They’re probably going to get stiffed a lot by drunken tourists, so do the right thing. An added bonus: you won’t be the eejit stuck at the bar, waving a handful of cash in the pathetic hope that someone will serve you.
Rule No. 3: Don’t be surprised if there’s a cover charge at many places. It’s the law of supply and demand:, so be prepared to shell out $5 or $10 — particularly in Midtown — for the privilege of entering the establishment of your choice. Don’t bother telling the bouncer that the owner is your dad’s best friend, or that you want to see if your friend’s inside — they’ve heard it all before, and anyway, that’s why the Good Lord gave us cell phones.
Rule No. 4: Always keep a pack of tissues in your purse or sporran (that’s the manly purse worn by kilt-wearin’ boyos). Why? You know what they say about beer — you don’t drink it, you only rent it. And toilet paper is sometimes in short supply.
Rule No. 5: If you weren’t born with one, do not, under any circumstances, attempt an Irish accent, especially when talking to Irish people on St. Patrick’s Day. Trust us — they’ll know you’re putting it on, and will ever after regard you as a giant horse’s arse. If you feel you must try to blend in, try using short phrases like, "Ya dirty-lookin’ eejit" or "Ya bollix," but only when talking to people who won’t belt you in he gob. Now go out, and may the road rise to meet you — but not too fast.
Television is usually packed with cool Irish programs this time of year. We’ve spun the dial a bit and have come up with some suggested viewing.
Love the saw Doctors? Well, then you’ve got something in common with radio legend Don Imus, who has invited the Tuma lads to be his show’s house band on Friday, March 16. They’ll be playing their hits — including an Imus special request, "I Useta Lover," on the show, which airs on WFAN 660 AM from 5:30-10 a.m. and is simulcast on MSNBC television. Watch for Imus to interview Doctors Leo Moran and Davy Carton.
Also on the radio on Friday morning will be Irish supergroup The Corrs, who will perform live on the Z100 show (100.3 FM). The station will be broadcasting live from Connolly’s Pub & Restaurant on 47th Street, so if you get there early, you might just catch a glimpse of Andrea, Sharon, Caroline and Jim.
If your idea of a parade is the route between your kitchen and living room , NBC’s broadcast of the New York St. Partick’s Day Parade (Saturday, March 17, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,) is the perfect viewing choice this weekend.
Those of us have fond memories of the late Jack McCarthy’s annual parade coverage on WPIX-TV might find the network version a little glitzy — but, hey, bigger is sometimes better. NBC’s parade hosts, XXX. XXX and sports broadcaster Tommy Smyth, will make you feel like you’re right there on the Avenue, squeezing between the green-painted girls from Jersey and the fat guy in the itchy sweater.
Politicians, performers and parade dignitaries alike make it a point to drop by the "Adrian Flannelly Show," hosted by Adrian Flannelly and John Dearie. The show is broadcast on WNSW 1430AM in New York and New Jersey, and WJUX 103.1FM in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania (for other cities, see their ad in this week’s paper). No matter how famous the person, the Flannelly show is a required stop either before or after marching in the parade. You never know who’ll be inspired to sing a song, tell a joke or reveal a secret — we just can’t turn it off. Webheads can listen online at www.irishradio.com.
Public television is the place to turn for great Irish programming. At 4:30 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, WLIW-TV Channel 21 will broadcast "The Irish Tenors: Ellis island" hosted by "West Wing" star Martin Sheen and starring Ronan Tynan, Anthony Kearns and Finbar Wright. The concert was recorded last week and features behind-the-scenes footage with the three singers. Outside the tri-state area, check local listings for times and channels.
Later that evening, WLIW will broadcast "Michael Flatley’s Gold" at 9:30 p.m. We’ve seen bits and pieces, and, truly, Flatley’s dancing is as amazing as ever. Don’t miss it.
As the Big Day draws closer, the clothes-conscious will start worrying about how far to take the whole "wearing o’ the green" thing. Here’s a hint: wearing head-to-toe emerald is only advisable if you’re playing the Broccoli in an elementary school nutrition pageant. In other words, you might want to practice a little restraint with your St. Patrick’s Day wardrobe.
Of course, even we wouldn’t dare quibble with tradition. Ever since the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem made them cool in the 1960s, the Aran sweater has been the de facto uniform of the Day (not only could they sing, they also had an eye for mixing neutrals). The creamy white of the sweater goes with anything (even those green plaid pants your dad thinks are cool) and the nice, heavy knit should ward off even the stiffest of March winds.
Kilts are always popular and very trendy these days – Madonna’s husband got married in one – especially when worn with a sporran, sort of a hairy, traditional-type fanny pack. These manly skirts have the added advantage of providing entertainment for female parade watchers – there’s no telling when a stiff gust of wind will cause a few blushes. Hey, who needs Chippendales when we’ve got the NYPD Pipes and Drums?
For those of you who plan to use the tri-color as your style inspiration, we offer a cautionary tale: a close relative of ours (who will remain nameless as long as he keeps paying us hush money) once accompanied us to a concert in the guise of that little-known superhero, "Irishman." And, before you ask, forget the kryptonite; the only thing that could hurt Irishman was a poorly pulled pint. Ba-dum-dum.
This strange visitor from another country came to the U.S. with a fashion sensibility far beyond that of normal men. His St. Patrick’s Day outfit consisted of a tweed cap, an "Up the Dubs!" t-shirt under an Aran sweater, jeans with a pair of green, orange and white shorts over them,. And – the piece de resistance – an Irish flag tied over his shoulders lik a cape. The only thing missing was a shamrock painted on his cheek, but then, as he said, that would be overdoing it.
Back in our "big hair" days, we avoided wearing green like the plague, since it clashed with our neon pink Flashdance sweatshirts. These days, however, we’ll add a touch of jade, if only to qualify for a free Krispy Kreme donut. Yes, we received a press release from the chain’s public relations firm, offering a cead mile failte and a free donut to anyone who visits one of their stores on St. Patrick’s Day wearing something green. We can taste that raspberry glazed baby right now . . .
Watching the parade
The best way to experience the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is to march in it — there’s something about the skirl of the bagpipes and the banging of those big drums that just makes a body want to skip the whole 44 blocks up Fifth Avenue. But if you’re not in the mood for matching, the next best thing is to find a good vantage point for viewing the grand procession.
If you don’t already have tickets to the reviewing stand — those bleachers erected alongside Central Park in the ’60s — don’t bother trying to bluff your way in. Fort Knox is a pushover by comparison. You could try becoming best friends with some rich person who’s got a Fifth Avenue triplex, but all of them are probably sunning themselves in Palm Beach at the moment (at least, that’s what we’d be doing).
One great place for watching the parade is in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 81st Street. But with Saturday being a big museum-visiting day for the general public, don’t count on being able to stand on the steps. We’d advise trying to find a spot on the plaza in front of the F.A.O. Schwartz toy store at 58th Street, but you’ll need to get there before the other 50 billion people in New York have the same idea.