10. The People. Irish Fest, for a lot of us, has already started. Yes, I know the gates aren't open. I know the stages are dark. I know the beer tents aren't serving. Believe me, I checked on that one. But just the same, it's here. It's kind of like how Christmas starts right after Thanksgiving...or in July, if you're Hallmark (no offense, boss). And when the season arrives, there's something in the air. An energy. An excitement, maybe is a better word. If you're in the right place it's palpable.
Like last night, when myself and Irish Fest music booker Shocko Shaughnessy met for a jar or two. Shocko's brother Mike, an old and dear friend of mine, had arrived in town for Fest weekend and we had some catching up to do. Just before we left for home, Sarah and Darcy, two lovely young girls at the bar who'd overheard us talking about the Fest asked Shocko for some recommendations on bands to see. In the short conversation that followed, commitments were made. After some arm-twisting Sarah promised to rush home and sign up as a volunteer. Darcy promised to show up over the weekend and put a dent in her paycheck at the beer tent. Both noble efforts in supporting Irish Fest, and both much appreciated. Thank you, girls. But more appreciated, to me anyway, was the way that Irish Fest opens doors and sparks conversation. This coming weekend, my fellow directors and I will see and speak to literally hundreds of people. I'll get reacquainted with old friends. I'll spend time with my mother, my brother, four of my six sisters and we'll all drink toasts to the two sisters out West who couldn't join us. I'll say hello to current neighbors and I'll be surprised to run into old ones. I'll see grade school classmates, high school teachers and old girlfriends. I'll visit with musicians I've known for years, and meet some I've admired for years. And the thing that will bring all of us together, from around the corner or across the broad Atlantic, is Irish Fest. Irish Fest, to me, is a lively conversation ready to begin or resume. A chat over a pint with a friend, years in the making or just begun. And all of course with a great soundtrack.
This is all a long and round about way of getting to my Don't Miss #10. Don't miss the conversation. Don't miss the chance to sit down with your friends, whether old or brand new, and enjoy that lively conversation. Don't miss the people watching. Don't miss being part of this great weekend.
I hope I get the chance to visit with you.