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Local Music Gets Its Irish Up This Weekend...

March 12, 2008 - Jim Price
St. Patrick’s Day is always a busy occasion for live music, and this St. Patty’s weekend has several noteworthy events to check out. 

First, if you need to get your Irish/Celtic music fix this St. Patty’s season, there are a few opportunities to do so in the Altoona area.  The ever-popular Michael O’Brian Band – featuring the dynamic duo of Brian Anderson and Mike Zerbee – delivers their lighthearted blend of Irish pub songs and Celtic folk sounds to Zach’s in Altoona both Sunday and Monday.  They play from 6 to 9 on Sunday; and from 4:30 to 8:30 on Monday.   

If you like your Irish musical sounds in a harder-rocking vein, the band Full Kilt also plays at Zach’s this weekend, performing at 3:30 on Sunday and at 9 PM on Monday night.  Formed in 2006, this group also features Mike Zerbee on guitar and vocals, along with Mandy Passmore on fiddles and whistles, Chris Myers on bass and bodhran, and Pat Boland on drums and jimby.  Full Kilt performs their own rocking arrangements of traditional Celtic songs, as well as covering material from names such as The Prodigals, Flogging Molly, Gaelic Storm and more. 

For a punkier brand of Celtic sounds, State College-based fivesome The Clover will help kick your St. Patty’s weekend into gear this Friday night at Aldo’s in Juniata as half of a double-bill with rising Altoona modern rockers Slacker Theory.  Formed three years ago as a St. Patty’s gimmick band under the name 69-Leaf Clover, the group features several veterans of the Happy Valley punk and metal scenes: Greg “Mudzo” Mudzinsky on bass and lead vocals, Johnstone on rhythm guitar and vocals, Patrick Newby on lead guitar and vocals, Lance T. Burgess on acoustic guitar, and Matt Floravit on drums.  The Clover does amped-up versions of Irish drinking songs, as well as their own original Irish-flavored punk-rocking drinking odes; giving audience members ample reason to hoist their beers high, sing and rock along.

And if you’re not in the mood for Irish musical sounds, there are a few other noteworthy shows worth checking out as well.  Also on Friday night, The Bullpen Restaurant & Lounge in Tyrone will feature a fun, rocking double-bill featuring local Tyrone favorites Flight 19 and young classic rockers The Syrins.  The Syrins will kick off the music at 9 PM; get there early, as this place gets jam-packed quickly whenever Flight 19 is in the house!

On Saturday night, for your 80’s hair-metal fix, Hair Force One returns to 30 Something Restaurant & Lounge (formerly City Limits) in Greenwood.  This is Hair Force One’s first Altoona show since New Year’s Eve, and the first Altoona appearance of the group’s updated line-up.  New addition Nikki D’Priest takes over lead guitar duties, while keyboard player Roman Fyngerz has exited the band.  Roman – known as Harrisburg’s Michael Troy – left Hair Force One after year’s end to move on to a far bigger stage; joining the touring band of Swedish guitar master Yngwie Malmsteen when he hits the road later this year in support of his upcoming new album. 

And a local music St. Patty’s tradition returns this Saturday night in Ebensburg, as the 814 St. Patty’s Riot takes place at the newly reopened Castle Pub.  First organized nearly a decade ago by western PA-based rock/punk music collective 814, this year’s Riot will feature 9 bands on two stages beginning at 9 PM (for only a $5 cover).  The upstairs stage kicks off at 9 PM, and will feature performances from Black River Circus, The Atomic Drops, The Marauders, The Deuces and Locked Inside.  The downstairs “Dungeon” stage kicks off at 9:30 and will feature sets from Rob Wallace & the Mess, RPG, Echoes of Harpers Ferry and American Armada.  The musical styles offered at this event will range from roots rock and rockabilly to scathing old-school punk rock.  The 814 Riot is always a maximum party, and this year’s should be another sweaty, beer-soaked good time.

So the weekend offers plenty of fun on area stages for the St. Patrick’s occasion.  Get out there and support some of these shows, and if you plan to do any St. Patrick’s celebrating, call a cab or designate a sober driver!

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Brian Anderson and Mike Zerbee, better known as The Michael O'Brian Band, during their performance last May at the Blair County Arts Festival. They perform at Zach's in Altoona this Sunday and Monday.


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