Since the day I came to Vermont to Burlington, I have never been to a St. Patrick's Day concert at the Flynn Center, whether it was produced solely by the Flynn or partnered with the UVM Lane Series, as was this week's Irish celebration at the Flynn Center.
And it's not because I don't come from a background that loved to celebrate St. Patrick's Day (and Valentine's Day, and George Washington's Birthday, and Memorial Day and the Fourth of July). The small town in which I was raised in Northern California had parades and dances and variety shows to celebrate just about everything that you could think of and we shared the holidays with the people of account which was 4 miles away-too close for either place to celebrate everything in their own city limits. Instead, St. Patrick's Day was one year in the town where, I was raised and the next year it moved four miles north.
But those are the days when Irish music was generally written by Americans, even though they were Americans of Irish descent. I was sure, we had our Irish transplants who worked in the gold mines or did other manual labor. And certainly many kids went to school together in the local Catholic school-whether Irish or Italian or the Heinz 57 variety.
I heard from my study window the Ireland trucks make several runs through downtown Burlington-three, if I counted correctly. And by the time I got downtown at about 6:15 p.m. and grabbed a bite to eat at Mr. Mike Irish pizza parlor-there was no green beer to be seen-downtown Burlington was beginning to rock.
So, although I waited 15 years or so to be there, I attended the dual concert given by Slide and by Garda at the Flynn.
Slide is a wonderful crew, and much to my liking, because they keep alive the great tradition of jigs and reels and slides and polkas of the Celtic groups who were in both Ireland and Scotland. There were traditional instruments as well as a modern keyboard, but the wonderful sounds of parallel octaves, especially at fast tempi with some performers playing flute and others playing accordion-like instruments. The sing-along that we were asked to sing along with was a rather complicated minor key line that got better as they piled the other melodies on top and below and around.
Garda is a different kind of Irish creature, a little more hip (one of the first solos by the flutist of the group sounded more like a jazz riff and something out of an Irish song) than Slide, their vocalist more caf singer and folksinger. I like him a little bit less, in part because they were a bit full of themselves, as the old phrase goes. I left from the audience was on their feet applauding, and yet they did another 10 or 15 minutes of music after I left. I could've gone back in, but my heart wasn't in it. It had been stolen away by Slide.
Burlington resident Dan Wolfe observes and critiques the local arts scene for The Eagle. His column appears weekly.