Public schools. Playoff droughts. Potholes the size of swimming pools. Buffalo has its share of problems, but what’s never an issue is the city’s appreciation of a good party. Whether food, music or chasing people around with pussy willows, come up with a reason and Nickel City residents will crank their collective revelry dial to 11.
For confirmation, see the start of what’s now become St. Patrick’s Day weekend, with Friday’s annual Civic Holiday Luncheon inside the Buffalo Irish Center priming residents for citywide parades on Saturday and Sunday before an exhale on Monday—and the actual holiday on Tuesday, March 17.
And as stout a proclamation of Buffalo’s Irish allegiance as this is, the good people of Larkin Square have found room for more. From 5 to 8 p.m. March 13, they’ll fete the after-work legions with their third installment of Live at O’Larkin, featuring traditional music from the likes of McCarthyizm, Emerald Isle and the Greater Buffalo Firefighters Pipes and Drums, and step-dancing performances by the students of Clann Na Cara School of Irish Dance.
Combined with Larkinville’s usual family-friendly wagon train of food trucks and nearby offerings at Hydraulic Hearth and Flying Bison, the event has made the possible— extending Buffalo’s St. Patrick’s Day party another day — an appreciated reality.
As for where else to find the holiday’s live fiddle and flute-accented sounds, there are plenty of options. Original songs from locals, county-set ballads via Buffalo-based songwriters and Clancy Brothers covers from the rest will be prevalent across the city, so enjoy an extended weekend full of options. This all-Irish Farrell Four will get you started.
Crikwater, 9 p.m. March 13 at Brick Oven Bistro (910 Abbott Road)
Anyone who’s grown up in South Buffalo—or spent an abundance of time with family members who did—knows that the city’s historically Irish Catholic community doesn’t refer to its Cazenovia Creek as a “creek.” It’s called the “crik,” which likely explains the motivation behind the name of the neighborhood’s finest multi-instrumental Celtic quintet, Crikwater As for the motivation behind itsmusic, the band deals in traditional pub songs, sea shanties and rebel ballads as they stay true to their Irish heartbeat. On Friday, they’ll pull no punches as they kick off the holy holiday festivities inside the craft beer-bolstered Bistro.
Before you go, listen to: “Mermaid”
Band info at crikwater.com
Tom Callahan, 1 p.m. March 14 in Shannon Pub (2250 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda)
Tommy Makem. Christy Moore. Liam Clancy. Three of Ireland’s finest folk musicians, and all with songs well known by anyone who’s embraced the genre—or endured a long drive with older Irish-American relatives. Buffalo singer/songwriter Tom Callahan is familiar with all their work, and along with adding originals and the weekend’s requisite pub stompers to his set list, is able to adequately pay homage to all three. Whether on six- or 12-string guitar, mandolin, banjo or bodhran, Callahan will command the Shannon from 1 to 5 p.m. for those interested in settling in for Saturday’s finest traditional entertainment inside Tonawanda.
Before you go, listen to: “Let The Music Take Us Home”
Venue and show information at shannonpub.com
Penny Whiskey, 7 p.m. March 14 in Buffalo Irish Center (245 Abbott Road)
Truth be told, there might not be a better schedule for your extended St. Patrick celebration than to simply spend every day and night inside Buffalo’s Irish Center, who’ve scheduled events wall-to-wall from today until the final toast on Tuesday evening. But if you’d like merely a taste of what Abbott Road’s holiday headquarters have to offer, stop by for local quartet Penny Whiskey’s Saturday night set. Not only will you be entertained by the folk-influenced fare of Kirk McWhorter, Jon Carlson, Dan Lelito and Paul Kneis, but the band will lead all Emerald Room attendees into the evening’s main event: back-to-back step-dancing performances by rival troupes Rince na Tiarna and Clann na Cara.
Before you go, listen to: “Two Recruitin’ Sergeants”
Venue and show information at buffaloirishcenter.com
Poor Ould Goat, 2 p.m. March 15 in Gene McCarthy’s (73 Hamburg St.)
Preliminary forecasts for Buffalo’s 75th annual parade up Delaware have called for snow. Will this stick? Nobody knows, but it’s good to have a back-up plan if you don’t feel like rooting for floats under flurries—and that plan could be pints with Buffalo’s most festive Goat. The Irish quartet will spend its parade day holed up for a free show inside the venerable Gene McCarthy’s. After the crush of Saturday’s raucous Old Neighborhood Parade, the pub should recover in time for Sunday’s entertainment to serve Celtic rockers and corner pub fare for those looking to spend their entire weekend in the Ward before Tuesday’s feast day.
Before you go, listen to: the Pogues’ “Streams of Whiskey”
Venue and show info at genemccarthys.com