There is no luckier time to play in a Celtic folk band than the week of St. Patrick's Day. For these musicians, it's like early April at H&R Block. Bars everywhere are looking for the perfect soundtrack to the traditional tapping o' the keg, which means it's time for these guys to polish their mandolins, fiddles, bodhrans and bagpipes. Here's how five top local Celtic bands will spend their St. Patty's Day week. Admission varies from show to show; check each artist's website for details. — Jay Cridlin firstname.lastname@example.org
Members: Adam Quinn, bagpipes; Joe Porter, bass; Sebastian Deledda, guitar; Steve Turner and Doug White, percussion
Their sound: They call it "Celtic Fusion." It's one of the most original world-music concoctions you'll ever hear, blending jam, trance, folk and acid jazz. Quinn is a world champion bagpiper who has performed around the globe and led Lucid Druid since 2003. They've planned a week of shows to celebrate the release of their second album, Cernunnos. Check them out at luciddruid.com.
This week: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Ruth Eckerd Hall (interactive show with a Q&A session); 10 p.m. Saturday, Paddy Murphy's Block Party, Orlando; 3 p.m. March 17, O'Keefe's Tavern, Clearwater; 6 p.m., March 18, downtown Safety Harbor Concert Series; 8 p.m. March 19, Dunedin House of Beer
Members: Frances Pisacane, fiddle; Jasmine Hart, guitar
Their sound: A simple yet evocative blend of Gaelic and Appalachian folk music, a la the Duhks, that harks back to authentic Celtic songs of yore. In addition to playing Tampa Bay, they travel the Southeast for performances around North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Check them out at junipertrio.com.
This week: 5 p.m. March 16, Renaissance Vinoy Resort, St. Pete; 7:30 p.m. March 19, Bok Tower, Lake Wales
3 Pint Harmony
Home: St. Petersburg
Members: Patty Mills, vocals; Christer Saarikko, fiddle; Lisa Hargiss, guitars; Ken Walker, drums; Rick Mastry, bass and other instruments
Their sound: Imagine a quirky take on traditional rock from the old country. Imagine Loreena McKennitt fronting the B-52s at a blues bar. Their unique sound should come as no surprise, as the band has roots all over the world — Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Syria and beyond. Walker was even a member of popular local surf-rock group the Vodkanauts. Check them out at 3pintharmony.com.
This week: On March 17: 3 p.m. Durty Nelly's, 7 p.m. Three Birds Tavern, St. Pete; 7 p.m. March 19 at Mike and Lisa's Cricketer's British Pub, Dunedin
The Fightin' Malones
Members: Tom Cook, vocals/guitar, Beth Cook, vocals; Don Butler, bass; K. Paul Boyev, guitar; Neil Leonard, mandolin, Burt Rushing, drums
Their sound: Traditional Irish rock that's a whole lot of fun. They play bluegrass ballads with upbeat songs from the likes of Flogging Molly and the Pogues. "We play the music of the people that work hard all week and want to have some serious fun on the weekend," their bio states. Check them out at thefightinmalones.com.
This week: On March 17: 1 p.m., downtown Dunedin's St. Patrick's Day festival, then 5 p.m., Dubliner North in Westchase
The Empty Hats
Members: Carl Asch, vocals/guitar; Gary Mazzu, guitar; Vicki Scuteri, fiddle; Lynda Kavy, bodhran/ tambourine
Their sound: Traditional, all the way. Think jaunty drinking anthems and jig-worthy singalongs. The band has been playing Renaissance fairs, Celtic fests and other multicultural affairs for more than a decade, and in that time have put out five CDs of original and traditional Gaelic music. Scuteri and Mazzu also perform in Celticopia, another popular band. Check them out at emptyhats.com.
This week: 10 a.m. Saturday, St. Pete's Saturday Morning Market; 5 p.m. March 17, The Villages, Sumter County; 8 p.m. March 18, Skipper's Smokehouse (alongside Celticopa and other Irish bands, $10-$13); 8 p.m. March 19, Peninsula Inn and Spa, Gulfport