Monday, April 21, 2014

130 DAYS!

130 Days! That's all that stands between you and the best weekend of the year. Just the brief gestation period of a beaver! So let's get in the mood. Here's 2014 KC Irish Fest first-timers Moxie to ease you into your work week.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Papa

When we were kids, we seldom had an evening meal on Friday nights in the summer. Not a traditional sit-down family dinner anyway. That's because on Friday evenings my parents were sitting, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes (moms) and cigars (dads) on the small concrete patio behind Jack and Jenny Kane's house, two blocks east.

The Kanes had an army of kids like we did, 8 to our 9, 4 boys and 4 girls with alliterative names like their parents: John and Joe, Mark and Mike, Stephanie and Sherry, Kathy and Krissy. The Kane kids and the Regan kids grew up side by side and we're friends to this day. Many of them are involved in Irish Fest. On those warm Friday nights, we kids would all run wild in the streets with games of  Kick The Can, Ditch 'Em and Red Rover while Mom and Dad and Jack and Jenny would solve the problems of the families, neighborhood, parish and world, in that order.

Everybody in the neighborhood called Jack "Papa".

Papa Kane, patriarch of one of Kansas City's greatest Irish clans, passed away early this morning.

Papa was a big, growly bear of a man. He and my dad called themselves the Irish Mafia and Papa was fond in later years of telling me that "your dad was the brains and I was the muscle." Papa and Dad ran the neighborhood. In the old days, they threw legendary St. Patrick's Day parties in the basement of Our Lady Of Good Counsel church. In later years, the Kanes' St. Patrick's Day parties at Papa's house grew so large and so popular–I recall one year a tour bus pulling up in front, and I'm not kidding–that he finally had to stop holding them...though at the last minute a few neighbors and friends were invariably and quietly told to stop by for a bite and a drink. It was a rite of passage for the young men of the neighborhood to be invited at those parties to share in a toast with Papa and his beloved Jameson 12 Year Old. Up until his declining health made it impossible, Papa led every parade in that parade-happy old neighborhood, both 4th Of July and St. Patrick's Day with his shillelagh and whistle. At Sunday Mass, when Papa did the reading and finished with a booming "This is the word of The Lord", it sounded like the very voice of God.

Papa Kane, like my own dad, showed by example what a man should be and should do. Work hard. Take care of your family. Love your wife. Be loyal to your friends. Take seriously the things that require it, turn the rest into a party. I'll be eternally grateful for having known this great man for so long. The image in my head of Papa, Jenny, Dad, Joe Kane and Joe and Pat Shaughnessy and the rest of the old neighborhood crew once again together, drinking beer and whiskey, smoking cigars and solving all our problems is the one happy thought I can muster on this sad day.

To all the Kanes, from me and from all of us at Irish Fest, our deepest sympathies. Rest in peace, Papa.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Congrats, Danny O'Neill

Tomorrow night Kansas City's cream-of-the-Irish-crop, the very zenith of Irish society and also me will gather at the annual Irish Center gala. At that swanky event, Irish Center will award the yearly John J. Sullivan, Jr. Foundation 2014 Humanitarian Award and this year's honoree is our buddy Danny O'Neill, the Roasterie coffee company's Bean Baron.

Danny is a long time friend of Irish Fest and indeed all things Green in Kansas City and all of us here congratulate him on a well-deserved honor.

One problem though. I spoke to Danny on Saturday and he and I both need some your help with something. The dress code for the gala is indicated as "urban Irish chic" on the invitation. Neither of us, or indeed any guy I've talked to that's going has the faintest idea what that means. I kind of think it means sparkly green bowler hats and matching vests but I could be wrong. Any input would be welcome.

Monday, April 07, 2014

No, Not The White Stripes. Just THE Strypes.

Get ready to put your socks back on because the ones you're wearing are about to be rocked right off your feet. Let me introduce to you, ladies and gentlemen, young up-and-coming Irish rockers, the Strypes. These lads (and I mean 'lads' quite literally as they are mere teens) hail from Cavan, Ireland and they just recently made their first appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. Here they are rocking out with a tight electrically-charged performance that is so scorching your face just might melt.



It was only their second time on American television and despite their tender ages, they have the sound and presence of seasoned pros twice their age. They are of course reminiscent of British Invasion-era bands, like the Beatles and the Stones, along with English pub rockers of the seventies, like Dr. Feelgood. No, there isn't even a hint of Irish folk in there and their sound isn't new or groundbreaking, but they do it so damn well and manage to make it sound fresh. Its just good old Rock And Roll, man! Maybe if we ask nicely our head honcho entertainment dude, Shocko, will book them for the Irish Fest...


Alright, now put some socks back on for Pete's sake! Your feet smell.

Expanding The Team

Happy Monday, peeps. I've got a nice bit of news for you here today: our Tir na Blog family is growing by one. I've invited my buddy and fellow Irish Fest staff member Jeff Petrie to join the blog as a regular (meaning whenever he's bored enough to post something) official author.

Jeff is already the public voice of Irish Fest in one way: if you write to us at info@kcirishfest.com, you're connected to Jeff. He also serves on our highly esteemed Entertainment Committee where he holds forth as our resident Celtic rock expert. He's also funny, a talented writer, a huge smart ass and a genuinely good guy. I'm looking forward to reading his stuff and I'm sure you'll like it too.

Friday, April 04, 2014

KCIF + KCUR

This coming Sunday from 1:00-2:00 PM, Irish Fest volunteer coordinator and font of all that is awesome Sarah Walsh and myself will be on the air at KCUR 89.3 FM asking for your support of public radio in Kansas City. We'll be making our pitch during The Thistle and Shamrock, as usual.

Please call in to (816) 235-5287 or make a pledge on line at www.kcur.org during that hour and help support a station that does a lot to support Irish Fest. Whatever you can afford will be appreciated and we'll read your name on the air. What's not to love?

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

I Kid!

Well, by now you've probably figured out that yesterday's posts were largely fiction and written in the fun-loving spirit of yesterday's holiday, by which I mean of course the anniversary of the birth in 1886 of composer Casimir von Paszthory.

But in the midst of all that buffoonery, we did miss an actual thing yesterday. Yesterday marked 150 days until the opening of Irish Fest 2014, 150 days being as you know the gestation period of a sheep.

150 days! That's nothing! 150 days ago was the third of November and I don't know about you but my Halloween Jack O'Lanterns are still on the front step. 150 days is the blink of the proverbial eye, Paddy! I'm excited!!

Let's get in the mood with some 2014 Irish Fest music. 150 149 days to go! Here are Socks In The Frying Pan, followed by Full Set, two bands that Kelly and I brought back with us from Temple Bar TradFest in Dublin.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Shake Up In Leadership

It's with mixed emotions that we announce today that 2014 Kansas City Irish Fest president Craig Duke is stepping down from office and leaving the board of directors entirely, effective immediately.

Craig, as you may know, hails from Belfast and it was communication from that city that brought about this sudden turn of events. Craig, as it turns out, isn't just named Duke. He is a Duke. An actual Duke. To be specific, it has been brought to light that he is the 178th Grand Duke of Antrim, Down and Armagh and as such is heir to vast holdings in the North of Ireland, including a 96 room castle on the banks of the River Lagan, the surrounding 1700 hectare estate and its private herd of rare Irish elk, Europe's largest privately held collection of Neo-Primitivist art and a fortune estimated to exceed ₤14,000,000.

Grand Duke Duke will be returning to Belfast later this week to claim his birthright and while he will be missed here at Irish Fest we congratulate him and wish him all the best. Irish Fest VP Kevin Bundy will assume the duties of the presidency, such as they are.

Contest News

Susan, our lovely Contest Queen, has announced a brand new competition for the 12th annual Kansas City Irish Fest that I think you'll love.

Can't bake, knit, brew or take a decent picture? No worries! You can still win great prizes at this year's fest as we kick off our inaugural Irish Yodeling Contest.

I know what you're thinking. "But Danny, isn't yodeling more of a Scandinavian/Nordic type thing?" Well, yes, but do a little research for a change and you'll find, like Susan did, that there's a long and storied history of Irish men and women yodel-ay-hee-hooing from the Connemara peaks to the Wicklow hills. As a matter of fact, the gold medalist in the 1932 International Yodeling Championships was Daithi Cullen, a Tipperary man. A pub in Bouladuff still bears his name and hosts the Irish National championships each spring. Yodeling is as Irish as potatoes and economic turmoil.

So warm up those vocal cords and enter! Contest sign ups will be open soon!

New Committee! New Services!

Some big news to share with you from high atop the Irish Fest Tower today. You long time fest-goers may remember our Site Hosts at Irish Fest. They were the gold-shirted ambassadors who helped our guests find their way around the grounds, helped carry strollers up the stairs in those pre-ramp days and generally served as the "face" of the fest.

Well, sadly the Site Hosts are no more but this year we're excited to announce our new Site Concierge committee.

Designed to be the single largest group of festival volunteers, we think that the Site Concierges will be a huge asset to your enjoyment of the weekend.

Here's how it will work: when you arrive at the gate, you'll be assigned you own Site Concierge, a bright-eyed, enthusiastic volunteer clad in in a green and white striped jersey and orange cap. He or she (sorry, you won't be able to pick the gender of you SC) will then be by your side throughout the weekend, helping you every step of the way. Need a beer? Send your SC! Can't finish that fish and chips? Your SC will help out! Need somebody to take Junior to the bounce castle while you head to the whiskey tasting? Look no further than your personal Site Concierge. Gotta pee? Your SC will show you to the nearest potty and wait for you with a moist towelette until you're done. And if the loo line is long, they'll hold your spot while you go catch a song or two by the great band on the Park Stage!  And all for the price of a regular single day ticket. And Snug members get two Concierges! Send one to the bar while the other rubs your aching feet! Now THAT'S a festival experience you won't get anywhere else! It's all part of our relentless effort to be the best fest anywhere.

PS...If you'd like to join this exciting team, Site Concierge volunteers sign-ups start next month. We need 100,000 people to make this happen, so tell your friends! Free t-shirt!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I'm Kind Of A Big Deal

So excited! I got my picture on the Star newspaper's website! It was during the parade last week. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lace Curtain Irish

Or lace table cloths. Or lace doilies. Lace knickers if  you're so inclined. But the first step is to learn how to make that fine Irish lace. Irish Center to the rescue.

Make plans to attend the Irish Lacemaking with Máire Trainor presentation on Friday, April 4th and workshop, Saturday-Monday, April 5th-7th. The Irish Center of Kansas City is pleased to bring Máire Treanor and her Clones Lace Irish Crochet workshop to Kansas City for the first time. Clones (pronounced clone-ess) lace was developed in the 1840’s in Clones, Co. Monaghan, Ireland and is an exquisite adaptation of Venetian needle point lace. The weekend will begin with a multi-media presentation by Máire about the history, growth and development of Clones lace and Irish crochet in Ireland and their development in different countries. This presentation is 7 p.m. on Friday, April 4 at the Irish Center; free and open to the public. The Clones Lace/Irish Crochet workshop begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 5 and participants have the option of registering for either a 2-day or 3-day workshop. Both beginners and improvers are welcome; cost is $200 for 2 days and $275 for three days. Click here for complete details and registration information.

And a little heads up from the lovely Susan Kane, Irish Fest's Contest Queen. This year's Irish Fest knitting contest assignment will be scarves and the addition of a bit of hand made lace could really make one's entry stand out in the crowd.

The Setting Of The Moon

Well, I think we've all looked at that long enough.

Sorry I've been away. Took a wee spring break that included St. Patrick's Day and Irish Fest winning FIRST PRIZE in our category in the big KC parade. Fair play to us! We also had a great day in my neighborhood Brookside parade under warm sunny skies.

Now, onward. First of all, Irish Fest opens in just 157 days, the gestation period of a goat for those keeping score at home. Second of all, you need not wait until your goat is born to enjoy some world class Celtic-fused music in Cowtown. This very weekend, this very Saturday night make plans to be at the City Stage in Union Station for a performance by Chris Newman and Máire Ní Chathasaigh.

Máire was named "Irish Traditional Musician of the Year 2001" and has been called 'the greatest Celtic harper of our age', while Chris is one of the UK's more extraordinary and revered acoustic guitarists. They made their debut at the 1987 Cambridge Folk Festival, having since played in 21 countries and given TV and radio performances on five continents. The evening will conclude with Chris and Máire joining everyone for a post-concert reception at The Irish Center. Tickets are $30 for KCIC members and $40 for non-members. The City Stage is right across the hall from the Irish Center.

Here's a preview of what will be an amazing and innovative night of music.
Get your tickets and more info here and don't delay. Space is limited.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Mardi Gras!

Yes, we're Irish and not Cajun or Creole. But still. Mardi Gras!

Seriously: the food, the music, the joie de vivre, the bon ton roulet. If you're looking for people who are right up there with the Irish in terms of mad celebration skills, our Zydeco loving, crawfish sucking, Who Dat brethren from south Louisiana are your hommes et femmes.

So even if you just want to think of it as something to do until St. Patrick's Day, go get you some Étouffée, an Abita beer and put on your dancing shoes. Hey, it's cold and snowy out there. It'll keep you warm.

Speaking of which, Irish Fest opens in 178 days!

Saturday, March 01, 2014

It's March!

And in spite of the massive blizzard set to hit tonight, the holiday season is upon us, and everybody is feeling Irish!