As I have for the past several years, I headed up to Milwaukee this weekend for Irishfest. I couldn't take time off work this year, so I had to leave Friday after work and come home today, which means I could only go Saturday. This is usually OK; I've done it before. But this year, it rained pretty much the whole day. During the day, things went on mostly as normal, though the crowds were thin, but in the evening, they closed down most of the stages. In particular, Leahy was rained out. Our group spent most of the day at the Celtic Roots stage which had a tent. Unfortunately, with the exception of Liz Carroll and John Doyle, who were of course awesome, I found the acts much less wonderful than the others in our group. Liadan was not bad; they're technically good and sounded pleasant, but they didn't really grab me, and a couple of the other acts really struck me as trying to be Celine Dion rather than trying to be Irish. The day had gotten started on the wrong foot when we were almost there and I realized I had failed to transfer my earplugs to something I brought with me. We spent at least 20 minutes looking for a place where I could buy some while I sat there being mad at myself and feeling like my stupidity was hurting everyone else in the car, and it ended on a bad note when I walked all the way from the Celtic Roots stage at the north end of the park to the Pabst stage at the south end to find that it was dark, because while they'd told us that the Leinie's Rock Stage was closed, they hadn't mentioned that any of the others were. So I walked all the way down the park in the cold, soggy rain, alone because nobody else wanted to hear Leahy anyway, and then turned around and walked back and listened to music I didn't like that the others seemed much happier with. We wandered south to the Tipperary stage where a band called Scythian that seemed to me to be trying to be a fusion of Celtic with bad current club music. They were loud (fortunately I had the earplugs), they were enthusiastic, their audience was drunk and happy, but while there were some pieces of what they were doing that were good, the whole package was awful. As soon as the people in our party who'd bought things to eat or drink had finished them, we wandered on, past Gaelic Storm who were dreadfully loud but not that interesting to the Snug, where a group called Millish was playing the most interesting music of the evening to a crowd of perhaps 20 people. They melded jazz and rock influences into some traditional Celtic stuff and then played some non-Irish stuff that was fun, including a medley of a whole bunch of Michael Jackson songs (instrumental only), and a set of extended solos by the low whistle player, the upright bass player, and the drummer while the fiddler tried to wring out his bow. Each of the soloists demonstrated very impressive chops. But we only got about half an hour of them before they were done for the night.
It was nice to see friends, and there was some good music, but if I'd realized how bad the weather would be I would have stayed home.