The KC Irish Fest Entertainment Committee, that stalwart band of men and women responsible for what and whom you see and hear on our stages will meet this evening to work on hammering out schedules for this year's Irish Fest. There's a little science and a lot of art this endeavor. Bad scheduling decisions can bite you in serious ways. I was at another festival several years ago in another state. On their Saturday night, they had The Elders play from 8:30 'til 10:00. By 10:00, as is usually the case with Elders' shows, the crowd was whipped into a frenzy. The party had started in earnest. Then, after the Elders had left the stage, out walked three dudes with acoustic guitars. And stools. And they sat and started playing and singing. What they played I couldn't tell you because I, like 80% of the crowd, made a bee-line for the exit and the nearest pub.
It's a chess match, sort of. If you have Gaelic Storm, say, on Stage A, who do you put on Stage B in the same time slot that will draw and hold a different audience? How do you manage the crowd? How do you build and maintain a mood? How do you balance trad versus rock? Acoustic versus electric?
It's also some serious budget management. We're pushing a large but limited pile of dough around the table. Should we hire Big Band A or would we be smarter to book Not-So-Big Bands B and C for the same money? Who's in the country touring and who would we have to fly over? And of course, an issue we've never run into here, do we hire that band that will draw a crowd but that none of us really like very much?
We could all tell you stories. Oh boy. Buy us a beer sometime and maybe we will. But I promise you this: Entertainment boss Shocko Shaughnessy along with Marcia, Mindy, Michelle, Jeff, Kelly, Ronan, Mark, Mike and me will do our best to keep you dancing, singing and cheering while you're our guest Labor Day weekend.