Irish It Were Summer
You can leave your green parkas at home until St. Patrick's Day.
"Put on some shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops," says Pat McCullough, and you'll fit right in at Conor O'Neill's Summer Outdoor Music Fest in Boulder.
McCullough's Celtic Events group is helping Conor O'Neill's, a Boulder pub, launch the event to mark summer's first weekend. Organizers note that the festival is also meant to celebrate the summer solstice on June 21, when the sun is at its greatest distance from the equator -- and, unlike on March 17, there's only a snowball's chance in hell that snow will mar the festivities.
The gala on Saturday should be a fine way to invoke St. Paddy's spirit. A stage will be erected on the back lot, right off the Pearl Street Mall, so patrons can rock the day away from noon to 9 p.m. While a number of performers will test the platform, organizers expect big fun from the Saw Doctors, the headlining Irish rock band that's popular on both sides of the pond. Even if the day is hot, it'll probably heat up a wee bit more when the Doctors begin to operate for their two-hour set at 7 p.m.
"They always really get the crowd going," swears McCullough.
Hailing from County Galway in Western Ireland, the Saw Doctors perform a "roots rock" sound that critics compare to U2, the Pogues and Thin Lizzy. The Docs -- who last played in the area at the Fox Theatre two years ago and are coming up from the Telluride Bluegrass Festival for the event -- are touring the United States in support of Villains?, their newest album. And the lads will probably play their hit "I Useta Lover," which was released in the early '90s; it's the biggest-selling single ever in Ireland.
All of this should gladden the heart of pub owner Colm O'Neill (Conor O'Neill's is named for his son), a County Cork native. Also putting a smile on his face will be the foamy Guinness stout flowing for toasts all day long. And the organizers will gladly substitute American food, such as hotdogs and hamburgers, for Irish fare like corned beef or blood sausage.
McCullough, who also puts out the monthly Celtic Connection newsletter, notes that 19 percent of Coloradans claimed Irish lineage on the latest census. "If they all decide to come down, we're going to have a big problem," he laughs. But there's no blarney test at the door. "We're definitely not hanging a sign that says 'Irish only'," McCullough swears.
Other musical entertainment includes Boulder-based Newcomers Home, whose lead singer, Katie Herzig, croons a series of Celtic melodies and Afro-Latin rhythms woven in with Americana-style acoustic and electric rock. WOAD, an Irish/Scottish band that plays traditional tunes and ballads, will also be on hand, and just to prove that some things are appreciated the world over, the surf band Beloved Invaders will play instrumental classic rock.
Even though this is the longest day of the year, local sound ordinances require that performers' amplifier plugs be pulled at 9 p.m. But for night owls still looking to celebrate summer, the Indulgers will be on Conor O'Neill's inside stage from 10 p.m. till closing. "It's for those who still have some party left in them," says McCullough.
Taking a cue from the World Cup soccer matches that are unifying much of the globe, the organizers pledge harmony. "It's not necessarily a Celtic event. Obviously we've got a lot of Irish bands -- a lot of phenomenal music comes out of Ireland," McCullough stresses. Still, there's room for hotdogs and beach music, always.
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