Practically a Dream Job

I live in a dream part of Florida so why shouldn’t I expect a dream job. It won’t be at Disneyland since it is too far away and I am not one to commute long distances. I won’t move and leave my favorite bar behind, McGuire’s Irish Pub. They have an insane tradition of kissing a moose mounted on the wall—an ever so silly practice but everyone does it. As I always say in my blogs, we need more moose in this world, more fun and games to perk us up. Maybe after I graduate from college in about a year I will change my tune about jobs and relocation. For now, I am staying put.

I also like music (particularly Celtic) and enjoy frequent concerts and shows. There is a music festival every year nearby and you can bet on it that I will be attending. I am going to apply for any temp job so I can enjoy the atmosphere for the entire duration of the event. I looked and looked and finally turned up a job with a company that makes some of the best inflatable water slides on the market. It will be hot weather so these should be popular with the kids. They will be in high demand and I expect even to see adults partaking.

It turned out to be a great choice. It was great fun watching the kids frolicking about in the water as they descended into the huge pool. I mostly was tuned in, however, to the bands who were playing all night. There was quite a variety of music—something for every taste. The venue got crowded but no one minded. They were all just happy to be there. The kids seemed even happier when they reached the front of the water slide line. I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to work the festival. Please let me come back every year, but in a few years who knows where I will be. Hopefully, wherever it is, Florida or not, there will be a regional music festival like this one.

To me these music festivals provide more moose and plenty of fun and excitement. You get to discover new bands some of whom will be tops on the Billboard charts soon enough. You can watch their progress on the Internet, so I pick a few favorites. I was there so long at the festival that I got to know some band members. We were getting punchy at one point, and one musician/singer joined me on the water slide. It was hilarious to see us all wet. In the heat, we dried off in minutes. We took several turns before we agreed to stop and have a beer. So on this job, not only did I make money, watch the kids play, and hear great music, but I met a great guy. I never expected so much from a temporary job at a music festival. What a night.

Awesomeness of Bagpipes

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So my dad used to tell me a story about how McGuire’s Irish pub had a protester for awhile. I think he was protesting drunk people or something. My dad is a little fuzzy on the details, and there’s a reason for that. Anyway, McGuire’s put up a sign with the guy’s phone number and home address, and it explained why he was yelling stuff through a megaphone at everyone, but there wasn’t much else they could do. Then somebody got the great idea that they could have a bagpiper stand outside (this is Gulf Coast Florida, after all. The weather’s going to cooperate with a guy in a kilt most of the year) and play music right over the guy yelling.Worked like a charm. You can’t hear much over bagpipes. My dad says the piper’s name was Sam, and he took requests and everything. My dad’s ex-Navy, so, of course, he had Sam play Anchors Aweigh. He still laughs about it, and I think this was a decade ago.That’s my dad, always talking about how cool he was. I’ve been hearing this story since I was small. At least it got me hooked on bagpipes.

I wonder what other problems we could solve with a bagpiper.

First of all, have you ever heard them inflating and tuning? Think of a beautiful song. Then imagine that song being murdered. That’s the sound of someone prepping bagpipes.Take a listen.  I think we could use that noise to our advantage as some sort of sound weapon. Like the alarm for sheltering-in-place. I really do love the idea of having a bagpiper follow me around who just plays music at anyone saying stuff I don’t want to hear, though. That would be great. Whenever my boyfriend tries to fight with me, I’d get the piper to play something right over whatever stupid thing was coming out of his mouth. It would prevent a LOT of arguments. I’m just saying. Although I do love bagpipes, so I might take anything as an excuse.

Did you know that bagpipes are an incredibly versatile instrument? No, really, they aren’t just for St. Patrick’s Day parades or for playing Amazing Graceat funerals(although, in my humble opinion, playing that song on the bagpipes before international conflict resolution meetings would make the world a better place.)There’s even a Wikipedia page about the awesome use of bagpipes in many types of music.My personal favorite is in Gaelic music or in rock music because I think it can have that tough edge to it. I don’t really listen to jazz, so I can’t vouch for pipes adding anything there. But it fits right in with classical music, too. There’s even a band called Pipapelli, out of North Carolina, who use the bagpipes instead of a guitar. It’s a unique, unusually cool, and very interesting sound!

Anyway, I hope this gave you a little more insight into one of my very favorite instruments, the bagpipes!

Celtic Heritage and Music Festival

St. Augustine, which is a bit of a drive from here but so what, has an awesome festival for Saint Patrick’s Day (this year it is the weekend prior). They say they are the oldest Celtic city in the country, so they go all out, which sounds good to me! It’s so Celtic it even has clan registration information available on the website, and they can win awards. Sounds pretty authentic, doesn’t it? For me, it conjures up visions of pipe and drum bands and lots of tartan. I am so going this year. I asked for tickets for Christmas; I even convinced my dad that he’d like to go, to kind of tip the scales in my favor. Bad, I know, but a girl’s gotta do what she can to get what she wants, right? And my dad loves live music anyway. Other than work, he doesn’t do much, so at least this way we both get to have a little fun.

Anyway, back to the festival. They have crazy competitive Highland games, and all kinds of vendors, from clothes and jewelry to food. Whoohoo! I am definitely going to be on the lookout for some funky one-of-a-kind earrings. I also want to see their St. Patty’s parade, which should be awesome. It’s only been around a couple of years, but it is huge already. I bet it is the next best thing to either New York City’s or Boston’s—both my dream places to go for St. Patty’s, and I will get there one day I’m sure.Maybe one day when I’m not a broke college girl, hahaha.

The thing I am most looking forward to is the music. There’s going to be at least 8 main stage performances, and then there’s some more performers on the second stage (they have magic acts, an author, and some additional musicians). It’s going to be so much fun. I cannot wait to hear Rathkeltair because their founding members (including the bagpiper, oh joy!) were originally in a super cool band called Seven Nations. And, awesomely enough, Seven Nations is also playing, so I get to see both. How great is that? I am going to optimistically root for some kind of reunion song or something. These are the bands that have inspired much of the popular Celtic rock out there right now (think Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphies, stuff like that) so it is going to be very cool to see where the sound originated. Personally, I think a festival like this is the best way to see live music anyway. It just feels like more of an experience to me than standing around indoors with the sound bouncing all over the place. Give me a beautiful blue sky, some green grass, and some music, and I am a happy camper!

Anyway, that’s my plan for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Are you jealous, because you totally should be. What about you? What are your plans?

A Favorite Place

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One of my dad’s favorite restaurants is McGuire’s Irish Pub here in Florida. He’s very anti-chain restaurant, and since there’s only two of these, that makes it OK. I’ve been going there practically since I was a baby, and so it kind of became my place, too. Aside from the food—which is really good—and the bar—another highlight—it’s just a great place to be. It used to be an old firehouse. That means it’s pretty big, but it can get crowded in the summer. Despite the fact that so many people here are transitional (we are a Navy town, after all), it still feels like a community. Like home.

The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in (aside from the fantastic smells coming from the kitchen) is the dollars. So. Many. Dollars. They’re stapled to every wooden surface in the place: on the walls,sides of the booths, on theceiling, just about everywhere as far as you can see. Some of them are mine J There’s supposedly over a million dollars up there, and you kind of have to see it to believe it. It’s really cool to see and even more fun to add to! It makes the return trip that much more fun as you hunt to find your money (that’s probably been buried by other people by then).

Some tips for an even better experience: definitely go when there’s music. You won’t be sorry. Or try sitting in the wine cellar, because it’s the coolest room in the place. Get the seasonal beer, or the Irish Wake (TBH, I just like the cool mason jar glass they come in). Eat the bread they’ll bring you. It is amazing. Try the Senate Bean Soup. It’s $0.18. You read that right. You can’t go wrong when all you’d lose is less than a quarter. I’d get a steak, too, because that’s what I like, but you check out the menu and decide for yourself, haha. If it’s your first time, go over and kiss the moose. Be warned, if the staff knows and you don’t, they might sing until you do so consider yourself warned: there aren’t a lot of words to the song, it can be both embarrassing and funny (depending on your sense of humor and whether you’re the one being sung to).

It’s a little piece of Ireland sitting near a Florida beach. I might not feel the same way about it if not for my dad—I think when he was stationed here and missing home, this place hit the spot, which makes his obsession a little more understandable—but I’m glad that we have this place together.

It’s nice to be a part of that kind of tradition, even if it’s only marginally so. I hope that no matter how far away life takes me, I can find my way back there and there will be a moose on the wall to kiss when I come home.

Good Places to See Shows

One of the best things—to me, at least—about being a music fan is getting to see the bands I like live. It’s getting easier as I have more access to a car (or a ride). I try to go to McGuire’s whenever they have somebody on stage, because it’s usually my type of music, and anyway, I like it there. They always have the information up on their website.

Sometimes they’ll have somebody cool playing at the Vinyl Music Club. The Vinyl is nice but the sound is intense, so I try to at least bring cotton to stuff in my ears. Also, it’s usually a standing-room-only situation, so keep that in mind if you go. Some of the shows can get…well, rowdy, and can get uncomfortable–especially for small girls like me. Anyway, there are some pretty surprising bands who play there, and because it is small, it is pretty awesome to see them there. I got to see the Old 97s there once, and that was really amazing. Their website is pretty informative, so check it out if you’re in the area!

Then there’s Seville Quarter, which I tend to avoid. Nothing against that place, I have friends who love it there, but I just feel like it tries to appeal to waaaay too many people. There’s a hip-hop room, and there’s dueling pianos and all kinds of other stuff. Think of the biggest bar and dance club you can possibly imagine, and it is kind of like that. It’s great for people who aren’t really sure what they feel like doing that night, so you can kind of try everything. The crowd has a LOT of lower-enlisted sailors, so if that’s something you’re into…well, the ratio is pretty good for us girls anyway. However, they do cool events sometimes, like the Frank Brown Songwriter’s Festival. I highly recommend finding out what is going on before you head over there.

And then there is Bands on the Beach.Lucky for me, because we live on the Gulf Coast of Florida, summer concert season runs on Tuesdays (I don’t know why) from April through October.I actually really like seeing shows here, and they have a decent variety of groups. I look on the Pensacola Beach website a couple of times each season and pick what I’d like to see. I get to sit on a lawn chair, and it is just a really cool atmosphere. I mean, how bad can life be when you’re watching waves crash on the beach and listening to some great music? Especially in April, when you can see on the news that some places are still getting SNOW. No thanks!

Occasionally you have to go to Mobile—which isn’t too far—to see somebody. If it’s a really big name, though, you may have to go all the way to New Orleans—I am trying to convince a friend to go with me in the spring so I can catch Mumford and Sons. They are fairly mainstream but still folksy, and that’s what I like.

Where to Find Good Celtic Music

If you’re interested in Celtic or Irish music, there are some things you need to figure out. First of all, there’s some weird terms involved. For example, it took me forever to figure out that Bainseo means banjo. And Cruit (pronounced as krit) means harp. If you’re really interested, you can use this website for some of the terms.

The big problem for me as a Celtic music fan (who doesn’t live in a major city, at least) is that it isn’t always easy to get access to great music. However, as long as I have an internet connection, I’m set. I can stream music straight from Glasgow from a UK streaming service. It’s a pretty cool site. I especially like their Album of the Week, where they feature a CD and do an interview with the group. I can really get a feel for the music that way.

There’s also a live365 app I can listen to on my phone. They have—get this—49!!!! different Celtic stations for you to pick from. They’ve got everything from dance to traditional pub style music to Celtic rock. Some of the stations are free, and some aren’t. My favorite is the Celt Rock station. Aside from the great music, they also have a fairly active forums site that can be found here. I especially like their music forum and the video library. I can find a lot of music there and if you’ve got some time, I definitely recommend it. To be honest, it’s kind of a black hole of atime suck, though, so consider yourself warned.

The absolute best place to find good music, though, is by seeing it live. Bands are usually pretty good about posting tour dates and ticket information but what if you don’t know enough groups, or if you’re inhibited by geography like I am? I can’t imagine what it’d be like to have a huge amount of venues near me like in London or LA or something. I have to actively look for stuff if it isn’t playing right at McGuire’s. So aside from getting in with the people who know at an Irish pub type place that has live music, the best thing I’ve found is searching fora Celtic, Scottish, or Highland Festival that’s nearby. You’ll get to see more bands at once that way, which is always fine by me! I’ve been to the Panama City Scottish Festival and Highland Games before, and it is a pretty good time. I haven’t been able to find much info on it for this coming year, so I’ve made other plans. If you’re interested in that, you can go on the Association of Scottish Games and Festivals and search by your state. If you don’t see your state listed, don’t worry. There’s also an angelfire site where you can look up Irish/Celt festivals, so there are even more opportunities. My last suggestion is to find a really good St. Patrick’s Day parade near you. They usually have pipe and drum bands marching, but if it is a big enough parade, they might have a show or two. I used to make my parents take me to Santa Rosa Beach to see the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and I got to listen to some music that way, too.

It takes a little work, but it’s sooo worth it!