Start planning for March Madness


Music Notes / By Colleen Taylor

It may still be February but St. Patrick’s Day season is already in swing for musicians. It’s not too early to begin planning your own celebration, so here’s what’s hot on the east coast this March—plus some exciting new releases from Ireland.

You can kick off March Madness with the High Kings on March 1, 2 or 3. Unsurprisingly, the four-man folk powerhouse has sold out two shows at the City Winery on March 1, but there is an online wait list. Or, you can catch the Kings the following day in New London, Conn. or on March 3 in South Orange, N.J. Our New Jerseyans might even chance a double-header and also see Cherish the Ladies, who are playing two shows at the Berrie Center for the Performing Arts in Mahwah on March 2. If you don’t feel like leaving the city, the ultimate rockstar of Irish music, the one and only Eileen Ivers and her band will play at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture on Bleecker St. on March 7th.

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For our Yonkers and Bronx natives, Keane’s is the place to be mid-March. The Friel Sisters—an exquisite folk singing group from Glasgow—will perform on March 9th, followed by the Dublin City Ramblers a few days later on the 14th. The word has probably already spread through the North Bronx, but in case you haven’t heard: Keane’s will host a parade-after party/session on the 16th and continue with tunes all day on the 17th.

As for the St. Patrick’s Day event of the year, I’m predicting Lúnasa will take that title. This year, the trad supergroup is doing something different and joining forces with alt-rock icon Natalie Merchant for a unique St. Patrick’s Day fusion at the World Music Institute. The two unlikely musical partners have collaborated successfully before, on Merchant’s 2010 album, “Leave Your Sleep,” and more recently for a track on Lúnasa’s latest record, “Cas.” This show, however, will be a special, extensive crossover of genre and style that will push the long-respected traditional music of Lúnasa in new directions on the biggest day of the year. The gig starts at 7pm, a perfect way to cap off your St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

And don’t forget, the fun doesn’t end on March 17. We Banjo 3, one of the most popular folk-Americana instrumental groups coming out of Ireland, will play two shows in the New York area on March 21 and 24—at Daryl’s House in Pawling and the Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University, respectively.

Finally, outside the trad and folk realm, the Irish music scene has witnessed some exciting new releases these past couple weeks. SOAK, an angsty, grunge, alternative singer-songwriter form Derry isn’t always my cup of tea, but her too-cool attitude is attracting a lot of attention, particularly her recent Valentine’s release, “Valentine Shmalentine.” SOAK, aka Bridie Watson, released the raw, galactic single with an animated music video. SOAK might be the way to entice resistant teenagers to Irish culture this March.

Someone who is always my cup of tea, Roisin O, released her second single with John Broe at the end of January. O and Broe, known as “Thanks Brother,” who debuted in 2018 with their single “We Are Different,” continue their infectious beats with “We Caught It.” Once again, Roisin O’s captivating, powerful vocals, with their folksy inflections, seem perfectly paired with electronic synth effects and dramatic instrumentals. Give it a listen—at the very least, it’ll bring your week an uplifting vibe to get you excited for March Madness.