Yes, it's St. Patrick's Day, and you've probably figured out what my first name is. Oddly, out of some sense of shyness or contrarianism, I've rarely celebrated the day in any particular fashion. I never went to any of the parades in any of the cities I've lived in. The most I can say is that in 2005, my parents took me to see The Elders, an Irish-American folk-rock band based in Kansas City. Well, this year, I for once had a reason to celebrate: a colleague invited me to see him play at a beloved whisky bar on the eve of the holiday.
Artist: The Nancy Boys
Location: Berlin, Germany
Date: 16 March 2019
The Nancy Boys are in infrequently-performing Irish folk band. They appeared as a five-piece: a guitarist/vocalist, a mandolinist/vocalist, a cellist, saxophonist/flutist, and a percussionist. They were crammed on a small stage, unamplified, in a loud bar full of revelers, but I managed to squeeze right in front for the perfect position to hear every note.
For being a band that do not all inhabit the same city and that claim not to have performed together since the previous St. Patrick's Day, they played two solid sets of music. There were a few rough edges, but they just laughed it off and kept going. I doubt most people even noticed, and their high spirits and playful style meant that any such trivialities were easy to ignore.
Their repertoire consisted of a mix of traditional Irish folk songs and classic rock performed in a folk arrangements, including songs like "The Weight", "Dancing in the Moonlight", "A Rainy Night in Soho", "A Horse with No Name", "You Can't Always Get What You Want", and of course "Whiskey in the Jar". The band emphasized vocal harmonies and big sing-alongs, but gave the saxophone, flute, and cello room for the occasional solo.
I spent the hours leading up to midnight enjoying the best whisky I've ever tasted and mesmerized by the talents of performers that seemed to just pick up and play songs as if they were emblazoned into their subconscious. They joked frequently about not knowing how to play the songs, and often cursed bemusedly when looking at the next song on the setlist. But this was a farce: they performed the tunes with passion and got me singing along without me even realizing it.