Sunday, 2 March 2014

St Pat's! Paul Murphy, Boat To Row and The Old Dance School at the Emerald Village

Welcome 2014 additions to St Patricks at the Custard Factory with Moseley Folk. There's some great local music, too, all free. You might have to move around a bit...

If you absolutely must
As of today, we're two weeks away from St Patricks Day. In Birmingham, as elsewhere, it's a huge deal. But it's especially important in Brum because of the size - and roots - of the brummy Irish community. And it's the third largest St Pat's party in the world, behind New York and Dublin. Crikey.

Of course, it's a huge deal everywhere. And it means different things to different people. I'm not a fan of green beer or silly hats, but lots of people love that stuff, so if that floats your boat, well good luck to you.. There is something particularly nice about the fact that St Pat's in Brum, while a huge knees-up, is also a massive cross-cultural celebration. And everyone loves a parade. If it's got dragons, so much the better. So, of course, there will be a dragon: an Oilliphéist, no less.

What about music? Oh yes, there's tons of music. Details – some details, at least - after the jump.

I once spent St Pat's in Dublin, when I worked for RTE. My Donnybrook hotel was awash with Midwestern Americans in emerald green t-shirts. They lapped up the schlocky cabaret entertainment the hotel dished up for them, but wouldn't head into the city itself. Weird - why fly four thousand miles to the beating heart of it all if you're not going to get close to the action? Me? I did, and had me a fine old time. Well, I think I did – it got a bit hazy. This contrasted with several unsettling St Pat's spent in New York, where workmates elected to be Oirish Rebels Battling Heinous Colonial Oppression – well, for the day, at least - and gave this lone Brit a hard time. There were... barbed conversations. Out on the streets, it was party time: there was the fine but incongruous sight of an all-Latino marching band done up to the nines in emerald green, trucking down the street to a decidely non-celtic groove.

Back in Brum? Well, Digbeth and elsewhere will be jumping. 80 thousand people will have a splendid day. But step past the Guinness foam hats and the commercialised ballybollocks, and there is a LOT of great local music to be found, most of it free.

Inside and all around the Custard Factory, right next to the main parade route, the Emerald Village has a live stage curated by Moseley Folk, running all afternoon. That's a first, and a welcome development. 

Headliners are the excellent The Old Dance SchoolAlso on the bill is the great Paul MurphyBoat To Row, and new boys Boys of Barr na Sraide - not to be confused with, but clearly inspired by, the classic song made famous by Christy Moore, Mary O'Riordan and others. 

There's an awful lot more going on – drum workshops, an alcohol-free zone for families. Someone even mentioned zombies. I'd expect to see them around closing time, not mid-afternoon. But you never know...

It doesn't stop there. Across Digbeth from the Custard Factory the Spotted Dog has long hosted fortnightly gatherings of the finest Irish traditional music players in Brum. While the website could do with a bit more detail, I'd say it might well be worth sticking your head round their door to see what might be going on in their rather lovely covered garden.

And on Digbeth itself, there's more stuff set for the Irish Centre and the Crossing in South and City college. Scheduled for daytime slots  in the college are gigs from MotorcityString Band, Irish five piece band Lampa, and The Father Teds. You might find yourself shuttling frantically between venues... but crossing the road during the parade? Tricky.

All of this takes place in the afternoon. Have fun. Evening time? That's up to you. 

The 'official' St Patricks' Day site - good for basic info and a lot more
The Emerald Village facebook page

Check back on these sites as the great day approaches for more
The Spotted Dog
The Irish Centre

More music posts on Radio To Go


Subscribe to the mailing list!
* required field

Email Format

No comments: