SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Arts & Entertainment

"Who's Your Paddy?"
A Review of the March Monthly Grind

By Sharon Allen


March 28, 2007
Wednesday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska - This year there were a lot of choices when it came to St. Patrick's Day entertainment. There was the Cancer Auction, the Norton Benefit, and of course, The Monthly Grind. But, whether you started the morning with Green Eggs and Ham or waited until after work for a draft of Green Beer, this month's Monthly Grind was a great way to end the day's celebrations. Right from the beginning, the leprechauns were in the house and the pace didn't slow.

First up were the Kanayama Kids. A group of twenty exchange students for the 2007 school year, they performed two tunes, the last being an absolutely hilarious and upbeat M-O-U-S-E Mickey Mouse song with cute choreography the kids had created themselves. Although the songs weren't Irish, no one minded a bit, and the youths smiled and waved as they left the stage to resounding applause for a job well done.

jpg Kanayama Kids

Kanayama Kids
Photograph by Chris Wilhelm

Next was good to see the familiar faces of Ketchikan's own talented group, The Otter Limits. Mary Larson, Tom LeCompte, Terry O'Hara, Don and Peggy Pennington and Dave Rubin performed two whiskey-themed songs, Ode to Whiskey and Whiskey in the Jar. Whiskey in the Jar is a great pub sing-a-long about a man who robs Captain Farrell on the road. He brings the money home and shows it to his love, Jenny. Then while he's sleeping, his love takes his money and tells Captain Farrell where to find him. Metallica covered it in 1999 based on a version by Thin Lizzy. The crowd's part in the latter song was to sing along to a refrain of:

musha ring dumma do damma da
whack for the daddy 'ol
whack for the daddy 'ol
there's whiskey in the jar.

And with all of the enthusiastic chanting, stomping and whistling of the audience, it was a wonder the roof on the tribal house didn't come down by the end of it!

jpg Gillet and LeCompte

Members of The Otter Limits: Marty Gillet and Tom LeCompte
Photograph by Chris Wilhelm

Not to be outdone, the River People, a wonderful group of musicians from Prince of Wales, took center stage then. Robert Cherney, Doug Black, Jay Bruns, John Bruns, Sally Burch and Kosami varied their folksy tunes with two island songs which found favor with the crowd. Another favorite, a John Prine song entitled Great Rain also was a favorite. Not having heard them before, I respected their skills and, judging by the applause, many others felt the same. I look forward to hearing more from them in the future.

As always, the tea, Raven's Brew Coffee and homemade desserts were delicious and the twenty minute intermission was just enough time to partake of the goodies and catch up with friends.

jpg Terry O'Hara

Member of The Otter Limits: Terry O'Hara
Photograph by Chris Wilhelm

The Otter Limits opened up the second half of The Monthly Grind with two more songs; Holy Ground and Tell My Ma. They rattled off the reels and jigs with gusto and had the audience stomping along in time. Mary's penny whistle was excellent and as always, Terry O'Hara's strumming strings were outstanding.

jpg Mary Larsen

Member of The Otter Limits: Mary Larsen
Photograph by Chris Wilhelm

Tim and Kay Long took the stage next with a few friends. Adam and Christina Day, David Goals, and Matthew Cooke joined the Longs in a set that began with Dave singing Black Velvet Band. For those of you who are not familiar with the song, it has a haunting melody and is a traditional Irish folk song concerning the waves of Irish people who were sent to places like Australia for their crimes. This song is about a tradesman who meets a young woman who has stolen an item and passed it on to him. The man then appears in court the next day, charged with stealing the item and is sent to Australia for his supposed crime.

Christina's rendition of Ronan Keating's song, When You Say Nothing At All, brought everything to a standstill in the Tribal House. A well-known tune made popular by Alison Krauss and the Union Station, Christina's voice was just as breathtaking and nearly as flawless as Alison's.

jpg Tim and Kay Long

Tim and Kay Long
Photograph by Chris Wilhelm

An instrumental piece came next, followed by an old 1887 parlour hymn, Golden Bells. The simplicity of this song perfectly set off Kay's voice and she sang it with emotional depth that bespoke of her love for her grandfather and of this song; her grandfather's favorite.

The Julie Miller/Lucy Kaplansky ballad, Broken Things from the album, Every Single Day signaled the trademark heartbreaker song that the Longs always incorporate into their set. A sad song, fraught with the weariness we all feel at times, it is also somehow tinged with hope as the singer holds out the pieces of a broken heart to another, despite fears that repair is impossible.

jpg Walters and Alley

Kate Walters and Rob Alley
Photograph by Chris Wilhelm

Their last song was an Irish favorite; a medley that included Danny Boy. It was a great ending to an outstanding performance. As always, the Longs deliver what they promise and what I love most about the group is that the songs they play showcase individual talent while still keeping it a group effort.

And what would a St. Patrick's Day celebration be without Paddy's Leather Breeches? Carol and Rob Alley, Anita and Sarah Hales, Vicki O'Brien, Shannon Springs and Kate Walters were in the green with their painted faces and Celtic spirit.

jpg Springs and O'Brien

Shannon Springs and Vicki O'Brien
Photograph by Chris Wilhelm

They began the set with a traditional Irish tune over 400 years old and next up was a rowdy pleaser entitled Big Strong Man, and the crowd's participation was part of the fun. It isn't a very old tune, having been written in the middle of the 20th century and dates itself with references to the Lusitania, Jack Dempsey, and Mae West.

The entrancing strains of the slip jig entitled The Butterfly were hypnotic, enhanced by Anita's harp playing. Also known as The Swallowtail Jig, it is a fun Irish fiddle song which is set at a near breakneck pace that made just about everyone want to get up and dance.

Their selection of Siuil A Ruin, also known as The Butcher Boy was yet another old Irish folk tune. The verses of this song refer to a lover's enlistment in the Irish Brigade who left Ireland after the Williamite War (in 1691) to serve in the French Army. In Ireland these gallant soldiers were referred to as 'Wild Geese' and the song is traditionally sung by a woman.

jpg Anita Hales and Shannon Springs

Anita Hales and Shannon Springs
Photograph by Chris Wilhelm

The last two songs they played were medleys. The first showcased Danny Boy, and featured the hauntingly beautiful sound of bagpipes. Instantly recognizable, this song was written by Frederick Weatherly, an Englishman around the turn of the 20th century using an old Irish aire. It was popularized in vaudeville by the Irish Americans and soon became a St. Patrick's Day favorite.

Winding up the evening was a medley of The Irish Washerwoman that had both the teenagers and the children reeling in the aisles. It was a great ending to a fantastic night and at the end of it all, if anyone had asked anyone in the crowd, "Who's Your Paddy?" the answer would have unequivocally been THE MONTHLY GRIND!!!


An Old Irish Blessing:
May the roof above us never fall in and the friends gathered below never fall out.


Publish A Letter on SitNews
        Read Letters/Opinions

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2007
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska