Music Monday: The Chieftains- A St. Patrick’s Day Tradition

We have a blog series called, “Music Monday,” here on Arner Adventures. Since music creates a soundtrack for our day-to-day living, it only makes sense. The month of March offers up much excitement beginning with the first day of spring and the sense of renewal that comes with that. Daylight savings time and warmer weather, the arrival of baseball season, and of course, March Madness. Possibly my (Gerry) favorite day in March is St. Patrick’s day. Besides the obvious revelry that belongs to this day, parties and green beer to welcome in spring time, there’s also traditional Irish folk music to be heard. 

For years I’ve relied on one CD from my collection of the acclaimed Irish folk band, The Chieftains, formed in 1962. They are one of the most celebrated of all Irish folk bands. “The Long Black Veil” from 1995 satisfies my musical yearnings from the beginning of March up through St. Patty’s Day when I then pack the CD away until the next year. Many acclaimed musicians participate on this record: Van Morrison, Mick Jagger, Mark Knopfler, Ry Cooder, and Tom Jones, just to name a few.

For me the joyous sounds of Irish folk go with this holiday much in the way Christmas carols go with the Christmas holidays. I can’t imagine not hearing this particular style of music at least for a few days on and around St. Patty’s Day. I think the charm of this music lies in the instruments that are used. The fiddle is one of the most important and often seems to be played in a very cheerful style. The flute comes right behind offering more of the same cheerful and upbeat melodies. Then there are the uilleann pipes which are among the most complex forms of bagpipes. I think everyone thinks of bagpipes when they think of Irish music. The harp, accordion and banjo round out the sound. Also, acoustic guitar and mandolin join in to create an abundance of stringed instruments. 

Irish folk music provides a foundation for a wonderful musical tradition that has stood the test of time right up to current day Irish artists. The influence of traditional Irish folk can be heard in such notable acts as Van Morrison and U2, along with a host of others. 

When you are enjoying all the pleasurable spring time activities involved in March, don’t forget to spice things up with a lil’ good time Irish folk music. The bagpipe, fiddle, and flute will never be as sexy as the rock ‘n roll electric guitar, but I’d like to think that for one festive day in March, they most certainly are.   

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