Shamrock shake-up

Catherine & Katharine, Sisters Wee Bit Irish will tell their tales at the The Boarding House Venue in Saluda. Photo courtesy of Kate Brighton

Whether you choose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by donning your most flattering shade of green, embarking on a corned beef and cabbage bender or simply practicing a fake Irish accent in public — there’s a place for that in Asheville. And if none of that strikes your fancy, there are a multitude of Irish-themed events throughout the area, including excellent traditional (and not-so-traditional) Irish music performances, a storytelling session from two Irish sisters and a Shamrock-inspired 5K race. Pick your poison, people, and make sure to check out the Community Calendar and Clubland sections for more St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Get your holiday off to an early start at Emerald Lounge’s Pre-St. Patty’s Day Bash with Tuatha Dea and The Bare Knuckle Quartet. Celtic-tribal-Gypsy-rock band, Tuatha Dea describes itself as “pure primal energy with a Celtic and world twist.” Asheville-based Bare Knuckle Quartet combines traditional music of both the Celtic nations and the Appalachian Mountains — bagpipe included. Tuatha Dea will be recording the performance live, and Loretta’s Kitchen will cater the event, supplying partygoers with traditional Irish cuisine. Friday, March 14, at 8 p.m. $10/$12.

Like any Celtic pub worth its brew, Jack of the Wood takes the Irish holiday very seriously. The venue has planned three separate events to prep pubgoers for the big day. My Three Kilts, a Celt-punk band that describes itself as the “dog’s bollocks of the N.C. Celtic scene” will perform at Jack of the Wood’s St. Paddy’s Day Warm-up on Friday, March 14, at 9 p.m. $7. That rabble-rousing band will pass the torch to French Broad Playboys for the St. Paddy’s Weekend Dance on Saturday, March 15, at 9 p.m. $8. The Playboys are more influenced by Western swing music than the Emerald Isle. However, they do guarantee “rump shakin' good times,” so we think our Irish brethren would approve. All of this culminates in Jack of the Wood’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Monday, March 17. Doors open at 11 a.m. with traditional Irish and folk music performances throughout the day from the likes of The Pipe Fitters, The Red Wellies and The Stringtown Ambassadors. Chef Jason Brian will present a special, Irish-themed menu. $10.

Not everyone likes to spend their St. Paddy’s Day kicking back with a Guinness and a plate of boiled meat. Some people prefer to run. And for those people, there is the Shamrock Run 5K/10K sponsored by Asheville Catholic School. Don’t forget to bring your green body paint and leprechaun hat, as there will be prizes for the best St. Patrick’s Day costume. Both races take place on Saturday, March 15, at 9 a.m. with a fun run at 8:45 a.m. $10/$30/$35. Register at

Cyclists can also work up a sweat at Asheville On Bike’s annual Bike of the Irish ride. Participants are encouraged to “wear the green with pride to celebrate spring and bicycle advancement.” The ride takes place Saturday, March 15, at 1 p.m. and culminates at The Wedge for a well-deserved pint and performance from rock ’n’ roll band Plankeye Peggy at 5 p.m. Free event.

Those looking for a more classic take on festivities should head to The Altamont for fiddle player Jamie Laval’s third annual St. Patrick’s Celebration. “Laval’s unique approach to traditional Celtic music blends the simplicity of an ancient art form with stunning virtuosity and contemporary flair,” according to a press release. The local musician tours full time throughout Scotland and the U.S., and has played for Her Majesty the Queen. His current album, Murmurs and Drones, won the popular vote for Best World Traditional Album in the 2012 Independent Music Awards. Saturday, March 15, at 8 p.m. $20/$22.

What better way to celebrate all things Irish than with with a tale well told? And with a stage name like Catherine & Katharine, Sisters Wee Bit Irish, we can be sure that these ladies are the real deal. From the event description: “With a fiddle and Ball Mason Jars, their instruments of choice, Sisters Wee Bit Irish weave their tales of growing up Irish in the 1950s and ’60s, as threats of entering the nunnery collided with The Beatles. A fast-paced night of music, laughter and master storytelling.” The event takes place Sunday, March 16, at 3 p.m. at the The Boarding House Venue in Saluda, above the historic Thompson’s Store. The show is not appropriate for young children. $15.

White Horse Black Mountain — known for its weekly Irish jam sessions — couldn’t let this holiday go unnoticed. The venue lives up to its Éire-friendly reputation with its St. Patrick’s Day party featuring performances from local folk band Noonday Feast and others. Noonday Feast may sound like a hefty meal, but the quartet actually takes its name from an Irish jig — a nod to the band’s strong Celtic influences. Mandolin, violin, bouzouki and bodhrán — an Irish frame drum — are prominent sounds in the band’s multi-instrumental and rich take on Celtic folk. Sunday, March 16, at 5:30 p.m. $15/$18, $10 for kids.

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