Irish Fest. Milwaukee. August 14-17, 2014.
Irish Fest. Milwaukee. August 14-17, 2014.
That’s about all you really need to know to find the greatest festival of its type in the world. Over the years, we have gone into great contortions to figure out specific schedules, stages, artists, grids, and plans to take in the best acts. It is way past that now—too many.
So, here is the plan for this year. We are just going to tell you the acts not to miss but, before we do that, now hear this.
Irish Fest is something you and your family cannot miss, amd if you are not in America, it should be on your bucket list. It is the most wonderful, varied, safe and family-friendly event there is in the entire universe. Festival founder Ed Ward tells us that there will be over 100 acts on 16 stages this year. Festival CEO Patrick Boyle adds that an independent study found that Irish Fest impacts the Milwaukee economy by over $20 million each year, and Festival President Kathy Ward informs that they plan yearly for somewhere between 120,000-130,000 Festival goers. This is not by accident. I don’t want to hear about your lawn or passport problems, or your dog, or any other excuses. Get off your butt and get there.
There are such a ton of treats this year. As usual, we won’t be able to see them all. My LiveIreland co-host, Imelda Bhroga and I will do everything we can to cover all the action. I am not even sure with the two of us that it can be done! There is a reason every acoustic folk artist of real value and taste prays to be asked to Irish Fest.
THESE ARE NOT IN ORDER. Each one is a “must-see” or they would not be on this list. We are not going to worry about what time, what stage, and who is on when. That is up to you. Just go to the site, www.irishfest.com, for the performance schedules. Did I already say THESE ARE NOT IN ORDER or preference? Let’s try this alphabetically this year.
Master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and Tony McManus will be together musically. Can it get any better? Tony McManus is a former Musician of the Year here on LI. The brilliant guitarist is hugely in demand as a recording guitar accompanist and best of all, he has been doing a ton of work with the best female performer in the business, Laura Smith. Laura won’t be there this year, but hopes abound for next.
Beoga. Trad excellence meets a really great show. This energetic quintet is in big demand on the festival circuit. They hit it perfectly every time. These Northern Irish are fab!
Chicago claims fiddler, Maurice Lennon now as one of our star residents. This legend will be offering performances of his Brian Boru: The High King of Tara. He wrote this salute to the ancient King in 2002, and it absolutely is considered an Irish classic. We have waited to see this for years. This is your chance to see why.
Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine are both going to be there. As original members of the iconic Planxty, these two rarely appear outside of Ireland together. They’re going to be in the Village Pub, and they will be magical. Two of the greatest names of all time in the music and very limited seating.
Dougie MacLean is one of Scotland’s top singer-songwriters. He is superb.
Our old pal, Finbar McCarthy is going to be there. Do you want to see a real Irish balladeer with a fantastic Dublin sense of humor? Finbar McCarthy.
We love Jeff Ward. He and his group are regulars now at Irish Fest, and for good reason. No matter what they perform, it is done beautifully, and with great taste.
The fantastic John Carty will bring his fiddle magic along with his daughter, Maggie, and be joined by their pal, Donal Lunny. We will not miss this. A master.
Larry Nugent and Cary Novotny are pros for years on the Celtic circuit. They have never played better. Not to be missed.
One of Chicago’s gifts to the world, Liz Carroll, is going to play. The Queen of the Irish Fiddle will only be there Saturday and Sunday on the Aer Lingus stage in the early afternoon. Appearing with Lunasa’s Trevor Hutchinson on bass and the wonderful Sean Og Graham, these could be the best shows of the Festival. She is magic.
Paddy Homan is the Male Singer of the Decade on LiveIreland.com. He is the best Irish tenor we have ever heard. Don’t think formal tuxedos here, with a full orchestra. Think of a voice from God in a pair of blue jeans, having a ball on stage, with master musicians behind him. Paddy is the deal.
Socks in the Frying Pan will be there. We LOVE them!! This magical trio will appear Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in The Snug, and are one of the hottest acts in Irish music right now. The Snug gives you the chance to see why, up close.
We Banjo 3 repeats their blowout performances this year. All three of their shows are going to be on the Coors Light stage. There is no more popular group in real Irish music now than We Banjo 3. This is their third year in a row in Milwaukee. They exploded onto the world scene two years ago in a now-legendary set of shows at The Snug in Irish Fest. The size of their growing audience now sees them at the Coors Light stage. We know of people who are planning their Irish Fest calendar around seeing them all three performances.
Remember to go to the Irish Fest website for all the mechanics, including their incredibly reduced price and free admissions policy, parking, directions, times, you know—the whole schmear. You can get a preview of these acts by listening to Imelda and me, as we will be featuring these acts on our Dublin, Ireland-based show on Sundays at 12noon, Chicago time. Just get on to LiveIreland.com and join us.
Irish Fest. We want to see you there. There are tons of artists not named here because we know they are going to be at the Fest, but we’re not sure on what stages. Some of the real magic occurs when guest artists show up and sit in for a number or two with other acts and friends. There will be lots of that this year. Oh, it is mighty! Or as they say in Dublin, it is HUUUUUUEEEEGGGG!