Friday, March 18, 2005

St. Patrick's Day

It began to rain last night at just after 5 PM. The weather service was forecasting severe thunderstorms, extreme winds (up to 70 MPH gusts), and large hailstones. We didn't get any of that, thanks be.

Despite the rain, we drove to Schooner Wharf at just after 7, hoping to see MaryAnne and others we know. The rain, though, had the place pretty well empty. We did, however, meet up with Susan and Walter, and sat and talked with them for a time. Susan works with Roger in the conservatory of the Butterfly place. Janet knew Susan from when she worked there, and I had met them both at a party at Roger and Robert's home a couple of months ago.

The band Innisrising was playing when we walked in, and we both noticed immediately the guy playing the flute. His playing was clear and strong. The song they were playing had a jazz feel to it though it retained the sound of a traditional Irish piece.

We discovered that the drummer, Karl, is an old friend of Walter, from their days together in New York (the band is headquartered in upstate New York). At break, we were introduced to the band individually, and had a chance to chat with them for a while. Mandy Mac, vocalist and guitar player, is a charming young woman with a beautiful voice. She's British, hailing from Liverpool, but she lived in Dublin for 10 years before coming to America. Mark, the 'winds' man (bagpipes, flute, Irish whistle, harmonica, etc.), discovered the bagpipes on a trip to Scotland a number of years ago, bought a set, and learned how to play them in a matter of a couple of weeks.

We plan to go back on Saturday to hear them play again. They're on from 3 until 7, preceding Moose and the Bulletproof Blues Band.

We left Schooner Wharf a little after nine to meet Brett and Sharon at Shanna Key, and to have something to eat. We stayed back in the restaurant while the St. Patrick's party rolled on in the bar. The place was crowded, since the rain was keeping everyone inside. Barry and Peter had tables set up outside under the overhang, but the rain was heavy enough to make eating outside nearly impossible.

St. Patrick's Day is one of those holidays that Key West does well. Drinking is at the heart of it. So is corned beef and cabbbage, for some. Music too. It's too bad for the party places that it rained. It had to have cut into their business. We drove past Finnegan's Wake and could see that their traditional outside meal and block party was washed out. There were lots of people outside on the sidewalk under the awnings and overhangs, a good indicator that it was jam-packed full inside.

Capt. Rick has organized and is hosting the annual St. Patrick's Day Bar Stroll on Saturday. For $20, each participant gets an official bar stroll T-shirt, and a drink at the 10 bars that take part in the stroll. They meet at the Sands Beach Club at 11:00 and wind up at Schooner Wharf -- um -- much later in the day. Theo, from the Coffee Plantation, is 'helping' Captain Rick to herd the strollers down Duval St. to their final destination. He and Diane (she's skipping the stroll to run the Coffee Plantation) are going to stay at our place tonight so they won't have to drive back to Sugarloaf after a such a strenuous event -- for Theo, anyway.

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