In fact, I think that’s why there are Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this time of year – to remind all that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s sort of like Groundhog Day in long form – six more months (not weeks) until spring. Or it could just be a marketing tool for Guinness.
As for this weekend’s festivities, making the fun easy to find for me was the towns of East and West Dundee near where I live had a combo Heritage Fest (www.wdundeeheritagefest.org/) close enough that we could walk to it.
Actually, at least on Saturday night, the way sound was traveling I could have stayed on my lawn to enjoy the show. But that wouldn’t have been very social. And I was out of beer.
Friday, best fest friend Tom and I stayed on the East Side, where we are from and where my allegiances stand in the long-standing rap battle between the two burgs. Aside from the Fox River running between them, I think it goes back to the Tupac and Biggie Smalls murders as for why the Dundees are apart (www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/celebrity/shakur_BIG/index.html).
Or this could be the reason – (www.eastdundee.net/?page=history). You read it. I’m too tired.
Also, the beers in East Dundee were better and cheaper by a buck. There was no charge for the requisite drinker’s wristband East, which was a buck West – and the Larkin and Moran Brothers (www.celticratpack.com) were the opening act East.
I even wore a Larkin and Moran brothers t-shirt for the occasion – though that wound up under fleece as it got a bit too close to frosty Friday. Smoking a cigar in that garb I looked like an Irish gangstah, a Celtic Tony Soprano – or just another overweight, middle aged white suburban guy with an attitude, or MAWSGWA for short or when we open for the inevitable NWA (www.nwaworld.com/) reunion tour.
The band of brothers covered Steve Earle’s “Galway Girl,” which had me longing for a long-overdue vacation. The next to last tune was the Saw Doctors’ “The Red and Green of Mayo,” which ended just as the fireworks display being shot off a couple block did, which was impressive. And their final song was the Pogues’ “If I Should Fall from Grace with God,” which happened to me just after college.
So I had some Jameson’s and walked around a bit, chatting with the guys at the military and police rescue dog group, then marveling at the beard on a guy smoking a cigar who looked like a young, huskier Fidel Castro. My anti-Commie side was relieved to hear him tell his pals he was going to shave off the mustache part and go full metal Amish on them (dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/amish-mafia).
I invented a new website too: Hipsters with Pit Bulls, based on this slacker I saw who looked like he was in the Decemberists (www.decemberists.com/) or Death Cab for Cutie (www.deathcabforcutie.com/). Yes, he had a pit bull. I was confused, which happens often. I tried to take some photos with an iPhone, but, despite what new media types want you to believe, phone cameras just don’t work well after dusk and in street lighting.
We caught a good bit of the set of a group called Pirates Over 40 (www.piratesover40.com/) – which reminded me that a new branch of Elgin’s In the Neighborhood Deli (itndeli.com/) recently opened near fest grounds. At the original location they once served a sandwich they called a Moby Dick – with tuna on it. Make your own joke. I did.
Walking home, the sound at one point switched from the Buffett-y tunes coming from the East to bleeding the pop hits coming from 7th Heaven on the West Bank.
That group and its Northern Ireland-born lead singer at one point were covering Foreigner’s “Feels Like the First Time.” The only Foreigner songs any band should offer are “Urgent,” maybe “I Want to Know What Love Is,” or if they are smartasses, really, really, really shitty Foreigner like “Dirty White Boy.”
But hey, the band is going through some changes – http://www.7thheavenband.com/news.html – and no longer has a former American Idol contestant fronting them.
Rolling with the changes would happen the following night with Hi Infidelity, a band playing the West Side that took its name from an REO Speedwagon album.
In anticipation of that, early Saturday evening I tried on a wig at the Goodwill store, in the hopes it would make me look like I was in a hair metal band – or an Irish step dancer gone wild. Actually, YouTube showed me I could pass for a fat member of REO circa 1977 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGgLPriZUSA.
Getting wiggy with it came after hitting Beer & Barbecue @ Bowes, a fundraiser for the Elgin Parks and Recreation Department’s Youth Scholarship Fund, where there not only were a handful of craft brews to sample, and pulled pork and ribs to eat, but also the historic, triumphant return of homebrewed samples being made available.
For, apparently with nothing better to do, in 2012, the state began cracking down on festivals offering homebrew samples to the public. The guys in the Silverado Homebrew Club of St. Charles (silveradohomebrew.com/) had been bringing their homemade beverages to a handful of fests prior to this, including the Bowes one, and were taken aback.
So last fall they started to work with other homebrew clubs, got State Rep. Keith Farnham (D-Elgin) to take up their cause and wound up working to change the law – which happened in July.
Farnham was at Bowes Saturday, but he doesn’t drink.
So I had his sample. And a few more. Because when you’re only drinking a few ounces at a time, it’s a lot of work to have what equals an actual pint of beer. You work up a thirst quenching your thirst, especially since IPAs make me burp.
The night still young, we decided to hit Heritage Fest again, this time taking in both sides of the Fox. West Dundee was sardine packed, my guess being because people are creatures of habit and this year’s joining with East Dundee was a new project – so people go where they know.
Thus we walked back East, where it was busier than Friday but not like a Tokyo subway. Tom took off after two drinks as he had to work really early Sunday. There have been too many reports of space aliens conducting probings of people walking alone at night who have been drinking, so we made him text us when he got home.
Tristen and I walked back West, through the carnival = and carnivals scare me more than space aliens do.
Back across the river – through the sea of silly middle schoolers hanging out on the bridge – we found the throng had grown for Hi Infidelity (www.hiinfidelity.co/) which played more Journey than REO Speedwagon in a set of mainstream rock of 1977 – 87, when you could tune a piano but not tuna fish.
A few songs into the show, we hit the bricks back East with two bags of Kettle Korn, should we need sustenance or to leave a trail. One bag was the original recipe, the other all sorts of Froot Loops colors and super sweet.
“You really only need to eat one kernel at a time,” Tristen said of the mix.
Truer words were never spoken.