Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival 2011


 Since last seeing The High Kings in March, my family, friends Anna, Michaela, Hannah, and I had been eagerly awaiting The Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival.  We watched The High Kings website like hawks, looking for the exact dates and times they would be playing at the festival. FINALLY the schedule was posted and we made our plans. An overnight stay in Cleveland and two HK shows in ONE WEEKEND!! We could hardly believe it. 

So many wonderful memories were made over the weekend. So many wonderfully random things happened. I will try to remember it all in order and detail to recount to you below. 

The first of the wonderful things that happened over the weekend was that our friends Anna and Michaela, (whom we saw THK with for the first time nearly a year ago now) were able to attend the Friday night show with us. Originally, they were only able to come Sunday with their family. But thanks to our amazing Hannah Michelle (whom we'd had plans to go with for some time, and was able to pick the girls up on her way to our hotel), we saw them together again!! 

Having been stuck in the horrible Cleveland traffic, we arrived at the hotel late and were unable to leave with the girls as planned. So after a little freshening up, we left for the Festival where we met the girls in a sloppy, wet, outdoor "food court" of sorts. Fortunately we'd been in the car for the torrential downpour that had just happened. 

We got our supper, (my sister Christina and I had Corn Dogs), and headed to the stage where the lads would be playing. It was another hour til their show started, but we wanted to be there early to get good seats. Thanks to the rain, there was hardly anyone there and we all got FRONT ROW SEATS!! 

Just coming on, a half hour late thanks to the rain, was a band called The Dublin City Ramblers. I had heard of them, but never listened to their music. Seeing that they were older gents, I admit I was a bit skeptical (some of those older bands sang so out of tune!!), but they turned out to be FANTASTIC and so much FUN!!

We were the youngest of the few people that were there and knew the words to almost all the songs, so they of course noticed us. But not just because we were young and knew the words. With Hannah, Christina, and Anna in dresses, and Michaela in a skirt, and myself in a pair of rolled up jeans, vest, and white, braided, fedora, Sean McGuinness, the leader of the band, said "Oh look...They're like The Waltons!" He went on to say "Good night John Boy, Good night Maryellen" in that delightful Irish accent. We giggled and looked at each other in amusement. 

Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown

It was a wonderful show and we simply loved it, but we couldn't help but want to speed the time along and get to who we really came for! Before we knew it, The Dublin City Ramblers, were doing their final song and when they had finished, they announced "The High Kings are next and boy are you in for a treat!" The five of us crazy fan girls all let out Whoops and Hollers for "our"  Kings

The Lads came on stage and began to set up. As soon as Brian and Darren saw us, they both got these HUGE GRINS and waved as they came down to see us!! We were so surprised as they all greeted us with hugs and "It's great to see you all!" 

They even stood and talked with us for a few brief moments before going back on stage to finish their set up and sound check. Meanwhile, through the crowd that had begun to gather just for the guys, there were whispers of "What a reception!" and "How come they get the hugs?!" We laughed, feeling rather special and quite lucky to have been so singled out. 

Seeing Michaela's face, still bright and beaming from the excitement, I just had to get a record of it. 

video
  Yes, we were just a BIT excited!

 The lads began their sound check next, making jokes of how we weren't supposed to see the technical end of the show. All the while, we in the audience were praying that the rain would continue to hold off. 
Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
King Darren and King Finbarr doing working on sound check and tuning. 
Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L
Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
 Meanwhile, we girls took the opportunity to snap some shots of each other. 

Me and Michaela 
Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L
 Hannah and Chrisitna
Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L

Me, Michaela, Hannah, Christina, and Anna
Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L
Mom and Dad
Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L

 Me, Michaela, and Hannah
Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L


 Christina and Anna
Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
Finally, the hands on the clock read 7:30pm and it was time for the Kings to FOLK N' ROLL kicking off the show, which was also the beginning of the festival tour!!

Sorry for the quality of the video. I only took my digital camera this time.
  
Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L



Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L

Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown



Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
  
The boys gave us quite the show, doing a number of up tempo, foot stomping, hand clapping, voice killing numbers. The crowd was going nuts!! But eventually it came time to slow it down with Brian doing "Rare Ould Times" after a beautiful tribute to his late father Sean Dunphy.

Besides the beautiful, heartwarming words Brian spoke about his father, and his wonderful voice, the very touching thing was that, as Brian sang the chorus "Ring a ring a rosie, as the light declines I remember Dublin City in the Rare Ould Times" the sun was setting in the background, with the most beautiful pink and purple hazy hues. 
Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown

Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown

Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
  The audience sang along with all their heart and emotion, doing their best for King Brian. Many an eye was wet with tears for the Dunphy Family.

It was a wonderful show, full of fun interaction with the lads and fellow fans, as well as dancing. YES DANCING. When King Darren motioned towards the row of us girls, Michaela and I decided to live a little, and so we got up did a Polka in the middle aisle between the seats. It was a little embarrassing, but fun none the less. I mean, how many people can say the danced a Polka while Ireland's premiere Folk Band sang live?! 

After the show we went in search of the signing table. It was rather far from the stage and we almost didn't find it. We thought perhaps the guys had left. But when we finally did find it, they were waiting for us. Darren greeted us with "There you are...We thought you'd left!" Laughs were had as we told him of our exploit. 

They came around the table to give us all hugs and then it was picture time!!

Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
Darren and Me Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown


Brian and Me Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L
   It was late and the boys were tired, so they went on their way, but not before making sure that we were coming to the next night's show. They then promised more photos and autographs the following day. A promise which they kept.

We spent a wonderful, restful night, at our hotel, contented and happy from the show and eagerly awaiting the next day. We rose early the next  morning had a lovely mid morning breakfast and headed back to the festival, just after the morning rain storm cleared up.

We had a fun time looking at the merchandise and wishing we had bought more money to buy certain items, but knowing all the while, if we had, we'd have buyers regret for spending so much. By 2:00pm we were sitting in the front row at the stage, listening to the end of the "Guaranteed Irish" show. There were 3 more bands till the guys came on, the heat index was 103 degrees Fahrenheit in the SHADE, and we were in full sun. But we didn't care, we were in the FRONT ROW AGAIN!!

At 2:3opm Dublin City Ramblers came on and this time they got to do a full show. 
video


They even took a bunch of requests and did The Holy Ground and The Wild Rover for Hannah, Christina, and myself. 
Photo by Me
Photo by Me

Photo by Me

After the show, I found Sean McGuinness behind the stage talking to some other fans. He called me over and I got a picture with him!

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L

All afternoon we took turns saving the seats (two people in chairs and the rest of the seats saved with cameras and bags), while three of us got in out of the sun. On one of my "heat breaks", I was walking towards the barns when I was stopped by a man in jeans, a black shirt, and a green army style hat pulled down low, almost over his eyes. He reached up and pushed the hat back, grinning at me, and to my surprise it was Martin Furey! He gave me a great big bear hug and asked after the rest of the group. He laughed when I explained about saving the seats and told me we were crazy, since their show wasn't for hours yet. I said it was worth it and that we'd be fine. With one more hug and a few more laughs, he went on his way with a "I'll see you at the show...if you don't melt first!" 

Finally after the 87th Pipe & Drum Band and EILEEN IVERS & IMMIGRANT SOUL had played, it was time to Folk N' Roll again!!

Brian saw that we were in the front row again and came down for more hugs, even giving dad a man hug! Finbarr, Martin, and Darren yelled out greetings and pleasantries from the stage and exchanged little jokes meant only for us, pertaining to a show of supreme Fanship that shall forever remain between the band, ourselves, and a few other select friends. When their manager came back on stage, they cut the play time and got back to business. 


Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L
Accept for Brian, who couldn't help but continue to play to the cameras. 

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L
Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
 And then the heat became too much for him. (Seriously,  he was not doing well that night)

Photo by Me

 A few more mic adjustments and the show got under weigh with the boys doing "Only the fast ones...none of that slow stuff." as Finbarr said. 




Photo by Me
Photo by Me

Photo by Me
Photo by Me
Photo by Me

Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown

Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown

Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown

Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown

Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
 
Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown

Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown

Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
 
 















Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L
Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L



Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L
The boys got halfway through the show and it was in the middle of The Rocky Road to Dublin when a sheet of rain came down on the audience, soaking everyone. We all jumped from our seats (there were probably 200-300 of us), and started dancing. It felt good after the heat of the day. But then the lightning started and they had to close the show and everyone had to run for cover. We thought this rather unfortunate...That is, until we spotted a tent just near the exit to the stage. Christina, Hannah, and myself ran over and waited there under the tent for the boys to notice us. Brian was the first and with a big grin, came over to the edge of the stage. He yelled down to us "Is there room for a King under there?" I looked around, there were about 15 people under the tent and we barely had room to even look over our shoulders, let alone fit another body. But I shouted "Make way for King Brian" and suddenly, there was TONS of room. 

We laughed and joked with B. Had him sign some stuff, including my shakers which are the same brand and style has his own (which was completely by accident!). He laughed and asked what I wanted him to say. I told him he could write whatever he felt like. The result:

Shake and Bake Baby. Brian Dunphy

  Darren was the next to come down. He signed and talked and more jokes were exchanged between the five of us (Hannah, Christina, Brian, Darren, and myself). Brian talked about needing a name for "you lot", meaning the three of us girls. On the spot he decided that he would forever call us The High Kingettes! A title we felt honored to bear, coming from King Brian and all! 

Brian eventually had to move on, leaving Darren alone with us (brave man. JUST KIDDING) and that's when we noticed them. Darren's Boots! They were the coolest boots ever. Black leather with a Silver Dragon embroidered on each. He was delighted that we noticed them and explained where he had purchased them from. A designer sell out in New York City, on 5th Avenue! We just had to have a picture and with Darren's permission, we obtained one.

Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
 On top of that, as if Darren didn't think we were crazy enough already, Hannah came up with a brilliant photo idea. Brilliant only because Darren would be part of it of course. It was sure to be a photo that no other High Kings Fan had! She looked at us all and said "Everyone put a foot in the middle" and this was the result. 
Photo Courtesy of Hannah Michelle L
The craziness did not stop there. Darren was in need of a sharpie to sign an item for another fan. I had just loaned mine to Brian a few moments previous to that and placed it back in my bag (which as rather large and had water bottles, snacks, and Heaven only knows what else inside) when he'd finished with it. I riffled through the bag, feeling like Mary Poppins as I pulled out more things then should have been able to fit, handing them to Christina and Hannah, or so I thought. Just as I pulled out my water bottle and handed it to "Hannah" I heard Darren say in his playful sarcastic way "Oh sure...that's just fine...I'll hold this." I thought he must have been talking to Hannah or Christina, until I looked up to find that HE was holding my water bottle! I felt so bad, as if I had imposed, but then he said in all seriousness, that he really truly didn't mind, but Hannah took the water bottle anyway, to my relief. And yes, the Sharpie was found...eventually. But it was silver and he needed black, so Hannah then lent him hers. When he was finished, he stuck them both in his pocket, until Hannah insisted that he not steal them! lol. It was the most crazy time. 

Martin had run off to who knows where when the rain had started, but Finbarr did eventually come down, proclaiming "I am one soaked King!" as he came and we shared some thoughts about the show, stories, and other conversation, as well as plenty of laughs. And of course, I had to get a picture with him!!
Photo Courtesy of Christina Brown
 As you can see, we were both rather soaked from the downpour. My poor hat did get ruined, but I bought a new one just like it! lol. 

After nearly an hour of visiting under the tent, it was time for the boys to go back to the hotel and us back home. With heavy hearts on both sides, we bid goodbye to the lads. They were disappointed, as were we, that we'd not be making it to Sunday's show. But at least we had, had the time to visit. They hugged us each long and hard and made us promise to stay in contact and thanked us for our continued support. The weather seemed to match our feeling as we walked away to our cars in the sloppy, wet, field, not knowing when we'd see them again. 

We made so many wonderful memories that weekend. So many amazing things happened that we will never, EVER forget. I was sad that it had to come to an end,  but as we know, all good things must and the fantabulous time we had, really makes up for the sadness of parting. 

I really hope you have enjoyed reading this and seeing the pictures and videos. I'm sure there will be more my next year (at least I hope there will be!!) and who knows, next time I might be blogging to you about a show from Ireland!


THANKS FOR READING!!

"Red is the rose that in yonder garden grows
Fair is the lily of the valley
Clear is the water that flows from the Boyne
But my love is fairer than any."