10 August 2008

An Ri Ra 2008, Butte Montana Irish Music Festival

An Ri Ra is an annual Irish Festival in Butte, Montana. Though music is central to the festival, it also included Irish film, dancers, cultural heritage workshops, and of course a 5K and 10K run.

In Butte, the Irish flags are flyin':

Jan, Emily, and I entered the festivities by listening to the local favorite, Dublin Gulch:

Beer and Irish music go together like Butte and a pasty. Here's Don Stierle with a good choice:

Cathie Ryan stepped up to sing a lovely ballad with Dublin Gulch. What a lovely voice! Here she is, with a "ghost sign" for Butte Special Beer in the background:

Butte America has a lot of these ghost signs, in part because the late 20th century passed by and didn't raze the traditional foundations of the urban core as happened with so many other cities. Along with the many architectural landmarks, they are another cultural element that helps keep Butte's soul alive. Another ghost sign, this one for Highlander Beer, also near the primary music stage:

Irish dancing is a big part of the festival. The Tiernan Irish Dancers have a local chapter in Butte, and the club does a great job of recruiting the little ones:

Time for more music, Beoga:

The Tiernan dance clubs are affiliated with Trinity Academy of Irish Dance in Chicago. They send a few high stepping champions to Butte each year:

Makem & Spain took over the stage just as a stormfront blew out of the valley, the brilliant Montana sun re-emerged, and the temperature went up 20 degrees F in 20 minutes:

After a few (too many?) pints we rolled up the hill to Walkerville for a sound night's sleep so we could make a big Saturday of it. On the big stage, we listened to the sounds of Finnegan Ridge:

Then a big thunderstorm with awesome lightening blew in, and we headed for cover in the Quarry Brew Pub. The storm was severe, and all the late afternoon/evening acts were cancelled. Luckily, the Quarry's back door leads out into a big parking garage where the groups Crested Hens and Malarkey set up an impromptu session much to the delight of the crowd:

After pizza and a pint at the Broadway Cafe, we headed over to the historic Finlen Hotel's bar. Well, if it isn't an Irish Pub (minus the thick cigarette smoke), with the Makem & Spain boys jamming in the corner:

Good live music, a pint in hand, Jan Munday by my side, and the Olympic swimmers on the big screen (Go Michael Phelps!): life doesn't get any better than this.

Well, actually it could get better. While I like traditional Irish music as much as the next bloke whose folks came over on the boat from County Clare by the Shannon River, it gets a little tiresome when band-after-band-after-band pretty much sounds alike. A few years ago, An Ri Ra brought the Prodigals to town. Tremendous "progressive" Irish music! So how about a bit more of 'at? Maybe Floggin' Molly, what do ya say?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Irish in Montana
You gotta be kidding
How did they get there
Missed the train to Bost or NYC or chicag
There ain't no Montana
It is all part of some Irish conspiracy to get two Senators and Goid knows how manty congressman to pass silly bills protecting sheep

Go back to Ireland you stop stop living off the goodness of the real Irish in NYC and Bioston

James Whal;enPresident
Ther Real Irish of America