Andre, my spouse (sounds like something that comes out of a whale, right?) recently formed the band, Irish Hitmen, with Doug Rogers on accordion and vocals, and Roger Brinkerhoff on upright bass. …
Andre, my spouse (sounds like something that comes out of a whale, right?) recently formed the band, Irish Hitmen, with Doug Rogers on accordion and vocals, and Roger Brinkerhoff on upright bass. Andre plays guitar, harmonica and sings most of the lead. They’ve been diligently rehearsing traditional Irish and sea shanty songs for weeks.
Their debut gig on (surprise) St. Patrick’s Day occurred at Creek House Grill in Callicoon, NY. I was asked to take a few moving pictures and considering the early start, 5:30pm, took my sweet time getting there. In fact, I started eating a leisurely dinner at 5:10pm and then began watching a movie. At around 5:40pm, I decided to saunter over to Creek House and see how the Hitmen were doing. Maybe by then, I thought, they’d have begun singing and, maybe by then, they were warmed up enough to warrant a video.
As I crossed the Callicoon Bridge, I saw a gathering of young men and women in the Callicoon Caffee parking lot. Out for a night of celebration, they wore bright green shirts and the kind of cheer associated with this particular holiday. St. Patrick, btw, “was a 5th-century missionary to Ireland and later served as bishop there. He is credited with bringing Christianity to parts of Ireland and was probably partly responsible for the Christianization of the Picts and Anglo-Saxons,” says Wikipedia. I’ll add that he didn’t wear green and despite his Irish notoriety, Saint Patrick was actually British. Plus, he used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity when he was first introducing Christianity to Ireland.
As I inched closer to Creek House Grill, the place for mouthwatering potato pancakes, bangers and mash, I heard music; good music, professional music. I saw people entering, lots of people. I decided to ready my camera before going in just in case it was too dark for me to see. (It always is.) I stopped at the large picture window and signaled to Roger and Doug, who both smiled and winked at me. When I opened the door, the place was packed and rocking.
I positioned myself in a corner by the entryway being ever so careful not to turn off the electrical switch on the wall. Who knows what that controlled? One wrong move and I may have turned off the entire lighting, sound system and, yikes, the bar. Every time the door opened, however, my view of the stage was entirely blocked. Each time someone came or went, I had to move forward into the band’s space. I truly enjoyed hearing Doug’s bell tenor, Roger’s steady bass and Andre’s passionate singing up close. At times, I even felt like faking some Irish Step dancing, but resisted since I didn’t think the audience needed to see this old woman bouncing around in front of the band. Back in my corner I soon discovered that the table behind me contained my dentist, his wife and two friends. They asked,
“Which one is your husband?”
“The little leprechaun in the middle,” I said.
By mid-set, I was receiving perks just by association. My dentist told me to call him by his first name. Someone signed up for Yarnslingers, my storytelling group. And a friend spilled a beer on me.
“That’s okay,” I assured him. “What would St. Paddy’s be without a bit of bath bomb?” Besides, my mom who is Swedish and German by decent recently discovered, through one of those saliva tests, that she’s also a wee bit Irish. Perhaps everyone is. It certainly seemed so at Creek House Grill that night.
RAMONA JAN is the Founder and Director of Yarnslingers, a storytelling group that tells tales both fantastic and true. She is also the roving historian for Callicoon, NY and is often seen giving tours around town. You can email her at email@example.com.
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