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Your guide to enjoying music and avoiding drunken morons on St. Patrick's Day

PLEASE DON'T TELL ME HOW THE STORY ENDS

It's going to feel weird to not pack a suitcase as soon as I hit "send" on this column. With the exception of one year, I've gone to Austin for South by Southwest for the last 16 or 17 years. This year, due to extenuating circumstances, I'm staying home, and I'm not happy about it.

Sure, I'll do everything I can to feel better about it. I'll say things like, "If Justin Bieber is doing SXSW now, it has officially jumped the shark," and "People have to do WHAT to get Lady Gaga tickets?" But the truth is, when you're in the thick of it, it's easy to forget all the crass marketing that goes on there and just focus on seeing bands, reuniting with friends, and generally having a blast. In my experience, it's the best music vacation there is, and I'm sad to miss it this year.

Sure, I'll do my best to simulate the experience. I'll probably hit up BrushFire BBQ every day, drink lots of beer (sadly, not free beer) and, like everyone else in Tucson this week, go see some of the bands I'd see were I actually in Austin. There will be no shortage of fun, debaucherous activities for us all to enjoy, so let's do this.

LET'S TAKE THE LONG WAY AROUND THE WORLD

This will also be the first St. Patrick's Day I'll have spent in Tucson in eons, and from the looks of it, I'll have plenty of options for how to celebrate.

It used to be tradition for The Mollys, the acclaimed local Irish folk band, to perform each year on St. Patrick's Day. And even once they broke up in the early aughts, they would occasionally reform when the holiday came around for special one-off shows.

Well, The Mollys aren't getting back together this year, but if you're a fan, there's a pretty good consolation prize: Former Mollys frontwoman Nancy McCallion and Her Wee Band will take to the stage at Monterey Court, 505 W. Miracle Mile, for a special St. Patrick's Day Irish Music Concert. Featuring fellow former Molly Gary Mackender on drums and accordion (as well as guitarist Danny Krieger, Tom Rhodes on fiddle, and bassist Steve Grams), the band promises "original and traditional Irish ballads, gigs, reels, pub songs and more." Even better, the opening act is Minute2Minute, the new band fronted by Catherine Zavala, herself a former Mollys member, and she'll be joining the Wee Band later in the evening.

Nancy McCallion and Her Wee Band and Minute2Minute perform at 7 p.m. on St. Patrick's Day, Monday, March 17, at Monterey Court. Admission is $10 at the door. Call 207-2429 with questions.

If you're budget conscious and looking for a good time on St. Patty's Day, look no further than the Rialto Theatre, which is presenting Rialto Go Bragh: A St. Patrick's Day Hootenanny on Monday. (Note to frat members: That's different from "Rialto! Go, Brah!") For the low, low price of zero dollars, you will be treated to performances by Scatter the Dust, a Tucson trio that performs "traditional Irish dance music on fiddle, uilleann bagpipes, guitar, bodhrán, and cittern"; Tucson's The Dusty Buskers, who play "unique arrangements of Americana and Celtic tunes full of hobos, heartbreak, trains and spirits," as well as the occasional bluegrass take on, say, a Dead Milkmen tune; traditional Irish clogging courtesy of the Saguaro Stompers Clog Dance Company; and the immensely entertaining, politically conscious Phoenix quintet The Haymarket Squares, whose tagline is "punkgrass for the people."

Rialto Go Bragh kicks off at 8 p.m. on Monday, March 17, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. The free show is open to those of all ages. For more info head to rialtotheatre.com or call 740-1000.

In case you're unaware, Tucson has been playing host to an awful lot of tribute bands lately, and this week is no exception. The Paradiso Bar and Lounge at Casino del Sol, for example, presents a tribute band almost every Thursday night: Tonight, Thursday, March 13, they've got Beatles tribute band Paperback Writer, and next Thursday, March 20, they've got the hella fun Metalachi, a Los Angeles band that mixes traditional mariachi songs with covers of metal classics from the likes of Dio and Ozzy.

But on St. Patrick's Day, they'll be presenting a special tribute show that eschews traditional jigs and reels for a more modern take on Irish music. Under a Blood Red Sky, a Denver-based U2 tribute band will not only perform the music of that most famous of Irish bands, but also make "every effort to replicate wardrobe, stage props, video/audio, choreography, instruments and equipment from many famous U2 concerts around the world." Fun fact: Not only are they the only U2 tribute band (there are others?) to perform at Red Rocks, but, like U2 themselves, they sold that fucker out.

All of these tribute shows at Paradiso Bar and Lounge at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, begin at 8 p.m., and admission to all of them is free. For further details call (855) 765-7829 or chek out casinodelsol.com.

If you want to celebrate St. Patrick's Day (read: get drunk and see some live music) but couldn't give a rat's ass about Irish music in its many forms, there's still hope (and options) for you.

Sky Bar, 536 N. Fourth Ave., will host a show featuring Hollywood metal band Black Medicine and locals Sun Bones and Grite-Leon starting at 9 p.m. on Monday, March 17. Admission is free and the number to call for more info is 622-4300.

The District Tavern, 260 E. Congress St., will present ShamRock ShakeRock, a St. Patty's Day show in name and date only featuring The Resonars (who recently cryptically announced they wouldn't be performing any more Tucson shows after the handful they've already got booked); Vancouver, B.C., purveyors of '60s-leaning psych-rock Dead Ghosts, who are just plain great; Boogarins, from Brazil, who claim to be fellow psychedelians, though the only song I was able to hunt down by them sounds more jangle pop to me. The bill is rounded out by Atlantic Thrills and Dune Rats. The action begins at 8:30 p.m. and it appears that admission, as with almost all shows at The District, is free. Ring 'em up at 792-0081 with questions.

And, finally, while Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., doesn't have anything special planned for St. Patrick's Day proper—its Nineties House Party will go on as usual—the club's weekend schedule is pretty Irish-centric: On Friday, March 14, Congress presents Green Friday, hosted by artist Joe Pagac, which will feature bagpipers, traditional Irish dancers, a leprechaun, and, um, a mechanical bull. It starts at 9 p.m. and cover is $3, or free if you're wearing green.

On Saturday, March 15, while the usual Saturdaze Dance Party is happening inside Club Congress, the outdoor plaza at Hotel Congress will feature a St. Patrick's Day Great Guinness Midnight Toast, which should be self-explanatory. Admission is free.

And, on Sunday, March 16, the club will present Austin's Whiskey Shivers, winners of the 2013 Austin Music Awards prize for Best Bluegrass Band. They play their "trash-grass" fast and hard and should appeal to fans of similar bands like the late Split Lip Rayfield. Go see them and there's a good chance you'll have an actual case of the whiskey shivers when St. Patrick's Day actually rolls around.

Whiskey Shivers perform at early show at 7 p.m., and admission is $4. For more information about any of the activities at Congress call 622-8848 or go to hotelcongress.com.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!

I WOULDN'T HAVE MISSED IT FOR THE WORLD

I got a little carried away with the St. Patrick's Day stuff, which leaves little room to tell you about all the other exciting shows happening in town this week. Here's but a taste: the TKMA Malt Shop Oldies benefit for the Tucson Folk Festival featuring Lost Hombres, Robyn Landis, Stefan George, Ned Sutton and lots more at Monterey Court on Saturday, March 15; Two Lane Blacktop Festival at Topaz featuring Julie Byrne, Liila, LABS, Babat Duag, and Jess Matsen on Monday, March 17, and Twin Peaks, Prom Body, and Man Bites Dog on Tuesday, March 18; Little River Band at The Maverick on Sunday, March 16; Ozomatli at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Friday, March 14; Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel, Pizza Time (what's with all these pizza bands lately?), Love Cop, Tom Heavy and the Party Makers, and the Electric Blankets at Plush on Monday, March 17; Hopsin at the Rialto Theatre on Wednesday, March 19; INVSN at Club Congress on Tuesday, March 18; Alesana, Get Scared and more at The Rock on Tuesday, March 18; Cloud Becomes Hand, Algae and Tentacles, and Aroma at Solar Culture Gallery on Monday, March 17; Ronnie Milsap at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Monday, March 17; The Devil Wears Prada, The Ghost Inside and more at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, March 14; Protest the Hero and more at 191 Toole on Wednesday, March 19; David Bromberg at the Javarita Coffeehouse at The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita on Friday, March 14.

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