It’s easy bein’ green

‘Tis the season to stock up on four-leaf clovers, commune with leprechauns and, generally, party till you, uh, turn green. What follows are a few area St. Patrick’s Day highlights.

• In a joint display of the true Irish spirit, Highland Brewery and Fine Friends Restaurant (946 Merrimon Ave.) toss aside their shillelaghs this year and embrace the deeper meaning of the season by celebrating a day early. Their “St. Patrick’s Day Eve Irish Beer Dinner” on March 16 features Highland’s handcrafted English and Irish ales, in conjunction with creative Irish fare. A mere $15.50 buys three distinct flavor excursions: For starters, fish and chips, potted shrimp, and Irish soda bread will be served with St. Terese’s pale ale, a new flavor with a hint of malt; for the main course, braised beef ribs, Yorkshire pudding, parsleyed Irish potatoes, and a trinity of spring vegetables (asparagus, green peas and pearl onions), all paired with the appropriately companionable Gaelic Ale. But adventure transcends indigestion with dessert, when Highland’s richest offering — Black Mocha Stout — is married to chocolate mocha cheesecake. Call 253-6649 for more info.

• Cinjade’s (22 N. Market St.) and Magnolia’s (25 Walnut St.) keep it green, as usual (albeit a few days late), with a whole weekend’s worth of St. Patrick’s festivities, beginning on March 20 with an eclectic host of live music, and ending with their 14th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 22 (watch for the Mountain Xpress “float” — a big green truck, actually). The parade begins at 2 p.m. at the Buncombe County courthouse. Music-wise, Asheville rockers Art Slutz will perform on Magnolia’s patio on March 20 at 10 p.m. Charleston R&B outfit Risse takes the stage (make that the patio) on March 21 at 10 p.m. And house band the Bat Cave Philharmonic gets started on March 22 at 2 p.m. Call 251-5211 for more info. Cinjade’s will feature DJ-spun sounds throughout the weekend. Call 253-0322 for more info.

• The blues rule at Black Mountain’s Town Pump (135 Cherry St.) with The Incontinentals (described as “Blood, Sweat and Tears meets B.B. King”) taking the stage on the fateful night around 9 p.m. “We’ll sing the blues at the Town Pump until they free the six [counties in Northern Ireland],” declares manager John Duggett. And you can feast on a traditional Irish spread (corned beef, potatoes O’Brien, scones) starting at 5 p.m. Call 669-9151 for more info.

• The nearby Grey Eagle (207 W. State St.) presents the Celtic strains of Aisha and Friends, whose lovely meandering melodies will make you swear you’re smack-dab in the center of Dublin. The music starts at 9 p.m. Call 669-0777 for more info.

• St. Patrick’s night in Asheville belongs to Be Here Now and Knoxville sensations Gran Torino, a turbocharged sensation of a band that inevitably packs the house every time they visit our fair city. Sporting more horns than a mob of rhinoceros (and infinitely more rhythm), the nine-piece funk group goes on at 10 p.m. Call 258-2071 for more info.

• Down the street, Hannah Flanagan’s (27 Biltmore Ave.) rears its native Irish pride with a variety of live traditional Celtic music all evening. Call 252-1922 for more info.

• Gatsby’s (13 W. Walnut St.) heralds a new tradition on St. Patrick’s night with the Miles Reeder Quartet, Cullowhee’s own (and presumably only) “Celtic acid jazz” band. The music starts around 9 p.m. Call 254-4248 for more info.

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