I must be getting older. St. Patrick’s Day has proved it for me.
In years past, March 17 was a day that you prepared for weeks in advance, prepping yourself (and your liver) for a night of debauchery, singalongs regardless of whether you knew the words, and beer mysteriously dyed green. You slept well the night before. You ate a big meal before going out, with or without ham and potatoes boiled in a pot. You made sure you had all your things (keys, wallet, phone) in your pockets before you passed out on someone’s couch.
Now, at the ripe old age of 26, it’s finally happened. In all likelihood, on St. Patrick’s Day I will not, in fact, be drinking to excess and collecting shamrock-decorated bar swag. No, I’ll be out, enjoying just one or two adult beverages, listening to music, watching my fellow bar patrons get increasingly intoxicated and ridiculous, and going to bed at a reasonable hour. And that, my friends, makes me feel old. Not really old; just old.
But no matter, because, as always, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations all over the country are as much about the music as they are the booze and the big, floppy green top hats that you always see. Maine’s no exception.
Let’s start with the town that boasts not one, not two, but three traditional pubs: Bangor. St. Patrick’s Day at Paddy Murphy’s, Geaghan’s and the Whig and Courier is roughly equivalent to, say, Cinco de Mayo at Margarita’s — it’s kind of a big deal. Paddy Murphys will kick off the festivities early, when they host the legendary Napper Tandies at 9 p.m. this Saturday, featuring a one-night-only original lineup of Randy Billings, Matt Smith and Liam Andrews and a mystery drummer.
On the big day, Geaghan’s Irish Pub on Main Street shines the spotlight on not just music and drinks, but also on food, with a full menu of tasty Irish treats, from corned beef and cabbage to fish and chips. Bagpiper Peter Beckford will come through several times throughout the afternoon, and Woody Woodman and his band will play Irish standards from 4 to 7 p.m. The Anah Temple Highland Pipe and Drum Band will invade the bar at 7 p.m., and then from 8 to 10:30 p.m. Tom Seymour and Friends will take it down a few notches with uilleann pipe and bodhran.
The Whig and Courier in West Market Square will host Irish rockers the Bar Stewards from 5 to 9 p.m. Bagpipers will visit the bar at noon, 5 and 7:30 p.m., and they’ll be serving up boiled dinner all day. Mean while, Paddy Murphy’s will open at 6 a.m., hosting Judd Caswell playing folk tunes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Galley Rats and their seafaring Celtic songs from 2 to 6 p.m., Mark Phillips from 6 to 9 p.m., and then the presumably exhausted at this point) Bar Stewards from 9 p.m. to close. On the second floor, folk group Sheleigh will play from 4 to 7 p.m.
You don’t have to stay in Bangor to get your St. Paddy’s Day fun in, though. For a more sit-down affair, head to Ellsworth, where Irish singer-songwriter Tommy Sands will play a special show with his son, Fionan, and daughter, Moya, at The Grand. Sands (www.tommysands.com), a native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, has been a quiet hero of contemporary Irish folk music, with his songs being recorded by artists such as Joan Baez and the Dubliners, He’ll play at 7:30 p.m. at The Grand; tickets are $25 at The Grand box office.
3 Tides, the lovely waterfront bar and restaurant located in downtown Belfast, will reopen for the season with its annual St. Patrick’s Day party. Old Grey Goose, a band of longtime Maine traditional musicians featuring Doug Protsik, Jeff “Smokey” McKeen, John Gawler and Eric Rolfson, will entertain from early evening on. For more information, visit www.3tides.com.
So there’s your list of options for the big green day. Like I said, the days of drinking my weight in Guinness and waking up draped in a size XXL, kelly green Jagermeister T-shirt are over. Give me a guitar, a fiddle and a Jameson on the rocks. You kids can celebrate till 4 a.m. all you want. I’m grumpy if I don’t get my eight hours.