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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A song for St. Patrick's Day

For almost twenty years St. Patrick's Day was for me like Christmas is for department store Santas. My bands, first the Pratie Heads and later Mappamundi, could always count on a lot of gigs this time of year.

I don't seem to do them any more, not really sure why - maybe because my fortitude for publicity has ebbed completely. But I kind of miss them.

The first was at a cheesy local bar, "The Station," March 1982. I had never been in an Irish band before, so it was exciting to discover that all it took to get a drunken crowd screaming and stamping was to play over a certain speed (probably MM=140). Drop below that speed, they stop clapping, edge above it, they start screaming again. It was fun.

But my favorite part of the gigs was getting a wild audience to go dead quiet and hang on every word of a damn fine song. One year we got hired to play St. Pat's at the Smithsonian Institution in DC. After years of rowdy bars with beer-tacky floors, we were amazed to be facing a packed house of people who had paid huge bucks to hear us. And there was something about the light that night - when I did a sad or sentimental song, I could actually see tears sparkling in their eyes.

I have a strange tape of that night - it was recorded for "Voice of America" and later broadcast in Greece and Albania, so I can't understand one word the announcer says except "Pratie Heads." Click below to hear a song we recorded back then, when I was still relatively innocent and hopeful, and you can be my audience this year.

Mary and the Gallant Soldier

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