Sunday, August 19, 2012

I'm a Lucky Leprechaun

Milwaukee's Irish Fest is a perennial favorite for me. Like all of the best festivals, it has a kindred spiritits revelers all sharing smiles and the love of a good tune.

My day at Irish Fest yesterday was no different. Well, it was a little different. This year I donned a green plastic fedora and I painted my beard bright orange (spirit!). I also brought one of my guitars to the Fest to strum and sing some tunes with members of The Rogue Six. One of the membersMarkis using his local's knowledge of Ireland and its music to start Ireland Music Tours to provide his guests a custom guided tour of some of the best places to enjoy Irish music in Ireland. To put a little emphasis on the music part, we brought our instruments to his booth and played a little.

Early in the afternoon, I had a great time playing with Cindy (percussion) and Lori (fiddle). We ran through a handful of Irish tunes and songs. After our short set, my wife and I explored the rest of the fest.

We saw some great things: Milwaukee and Chicago's world-renowned Trinity Irish Dancers, banjo-playing brothers from Galway "The Banjo 3", and the bluegrass legend Del McCoury. In between, we observed many other great displays of Irish heritage and music. If it wasn't for our neighborhood block party, I'd be right back to the festival today.

Connor and I sing Whiskey in the Jar
However, the highlight of the day came late and rather unexpectedly. After a full circle of the grounds, we returned to Mark's booth. Naturally, after seeing all the great musicians at the fest, I had an urge to pick up my guitar and strum a few. While doing so, a family of threea mother and her two sons, one of which had Down Syndrome and a love for Irish Music as big as the Emerald Isle; his name is Connorapproached us and made a few song requests. While we could not fulfill them all, I was able to fulfill Connor's request for one of my favorites: The Fields of Athenry.

Of all the times I've ever strummed my guitar, none were ever as rewarding as singing and strumming The Fields of Atherny with Connor. I leaned over the rail of the booth and we sang together, eye-to-eye. Fortunately, I sang the song earlier in the day so the lyrics were still mostly in my memory and in the proper order (Quite a feat after a day of, umm...Irish cheer!).

After the song, we shook hands and thanked Connor's family for visiting and suggesting such a great song. A few more requests were made, but unfortunately, we weren't able to fulfill them to a satisfactory level. They thanked us and headed out for more Irish Fest fun.

Roughly an hour laterthe booth packed up and the guitars put away in casesConnor's family returned and Connor skipped all greeting formalities and just shouted "Whiskey In The Jar!"

"I know it!" I replied.

And with that, I took my little Gretsch back out of the case and asked Connor to join my in the seats behind the booth's table and we belted out Whiskey In The Jar.

Just like the song we did earlier, Connor and I locked eyes and sang out every verse with gusto. Connor particluarly would give it full force on the "Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da! Wack fall the daddy-o, wack fall the daddy-o. There's whiskey in the jar!" part.

It wasn't until about a half an hour later did I realize just how meaningful this was to me. It was great to finally have years of playing guitar reward someone else besides me. I am proud to have performed these few songs with Connor and I hope he and his family had an Irish Fest filled with as much fun as I had in these few moments we shared.

It's going to be hard to top Irish Fest 2012.

For a few more pictures, click below.

120818 Irish Fest w Connor

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