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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chicago Celtic Fest 2007: Wanting Summer to Linger

Today's autobiographical trivia: Appearances to the contrary, your humble narrator is not of pure-bred Italian descent. One fourth of my lineage actually lies further north in the land of the Celts; my paternal grandmother's surname being Havens.

In order to assuage that green corner of my soul, I occasionally indulge it in bits of Irish culture. So it was that I gladly accepted my friend Patrick's invite to join him today at Chicago's annual Celtic Fest for a stellar musical lineup. The evening air was chilled, as locally Summer has given way to Fall, but the downtown setting of Petrillo Music Shell was spectacular as always:

The Irish group Lúnasa started the night with a wonderful more traditional set of reels and folk music. They were followed by the pride of Wales Jon Langford, who was backed by assorted former band mates and friends, including The Welsh Male Voice Choir. I've always been a big fan of Langford going back to his days with the Mekons, and he played a great set including one of my favorite songs:

Pill sailor
by Jon Langford

A pit bull tattoo
One good eye of blue
That's wandering still
But what can you do
These ropes are all knotted and tangled round me
I'm a sailor who wandered a little too far from the sea

Did they raise up this child just to die
To stare for too long into the sky
Shirley Bassey's from Tiger Bay
But I spend my nights down in Pill
They shut down the docks
Thrown our lives on the rocks
But my good eye's wandering still
Past the pubs where I festered all day
Transporter bridge transport me away
'Cos these rope are all knotted and tangled round me
I'm a sailor who wandered a little to far from the sea

They passed in the channel great ships by the score
To carry out coal and to carry in ore
And at night these old sea legs were anxious to stray
They'd come from all over but never intended to stay
So tell me something I don't know
And find me a skipper with somewhere to go


As if that weren't cool enough, the evening's headliner was Dolores O'Riordan, who formerly fronted the Cranberries. She performed a rousing set of Irish-inflected rock. One of the more popular numbers was the Cranberries hit Linger, which seemed appropriate to the mood of the crowd. Recognizing that this weekend marks the end of Chicago's summer festival season, we all wanted to linger just a bit longer after all the music had been played.


As my mission is always to educate self and others, my parting note will be that I learned there are actually seven original Celtic nations: Ireland; Scotland; Wales; Isle of Man; Cornwall; Galicia, Spain and Brittany, France. Humanity has moved around and mixed itself up quite nicely, so we should all celebrate and take pride in the various cultural heritages that span our globe.
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