Not being Irish (cries from astounded readers – “What! I can’t believe it! Not Irish! But I was so sure!”) St. Patrick’s Day was generally not a big deal in my life. I remember when I was in high school that McDonald’s introduced a Shamrock Shake for St. Paddy’s Day. Based, I suppose, on the same twisted logic that has publicans alter their beer to give it a green tinge, McD’s thought they would do the same thing to their milkshake. I tried one, got sick and have carefully avoided McDonald’s ever since – and for that I am eternally grateful to St. Patrick.
Once I started to play in bands, however, I learned that St. Paddy’s Day is a good gig. Bars that often don’t have bands want them for at least one day a year to bring in the St. Paddy’s Day crowd which has a well-deserved reputation for drinking a lot in short period of time. Before there was a Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room (more about them later) a number of us now in that band, along with other folks formed makeshift outfits to ply our trade on that hallowed Eve.
My last St. Paddy’s Day gig was a memorable one at a bar called the Balmuto Triangle on Balmuto just east of Yonge and Bloor. It was a Friday night and so we started playing at 5 pm (or maybe it was 4), and went until 1.30 am or so. While playing for that length of time does demand some stamina, it does not require much of a repertoire, because as noted above, people drink a lot at these gigs. As a result you can play Black Velvet Band (“Her eyes they shone like diamonds/I thought she was queen of the land”…etc) in one set and get a great reaction – “I love this song!!!” followed by a lusty drunken slurred sing along – and then play it in the next set and get the same reaction from the same people who by this time can’t even remember the last song they heard – but they do know that they loved it and that we are the greatest band in the world. Alcohol does that to people.
At one point late in the evening two young men (and it is always young men) were standing at opposite ends of the bar – they looked at each other and since they had passed the point of actually being able to speak in any intelligible form, one yelled – AURGHHHHHHH!!!! or something like that, and his buddy replied in kind AURGHHHHH!!!! and they raised their glasses and got drunker. I hadn’t seen people drink this much until our East Coast Tour in 2007 when we saw a similar pattern of alcohol consumption at the Split Crow pub in Halifax – mind you that was at 5 in the afternoon in July – I shudder (and I mean that literally) at what goes down there on St. Paddy’s Day.
Anyway, after 10 years of shows with Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room at the Free Times Cafe it finally turns out that we will be playing a gig there on St. Patrick’s Day – Sunday March 17. I don’t expect quite the wildness that we have found on other St. Paddy Day gigs but I don’t wish to discourage anyone either. Will we be doing anything special for the day? I’m sure we will. What might it be? I have no idea yet but we’ll figure something out.
So please join us at 8 pm at the Free Times Cafe (College and Major), no cover and lots to eat and drink. And I made a special request that they not serve green latkes – you can thank me later.
Hope to see you then.