Actually, it wasn’t easy avoiding being green last week, so I gave in fairly quickly and got my Irish on, along with the rest of the Upper Delaware River Valley. On Friday, I decided to make my way to Hancock, NY and get a sneak peek at the new dance hall—My Shady Lady, which was hosting a private party. The website (www.myshadylady.com ) promised “festive live Irish folk music” courtesy of Binghamton’s The Stoutmen (www.stoutmen.com ), and the band’s mission—to provide “a great mix of powerful rebel songs, jovial drinking songs, toe-tapping reels and beautiful Irish ballads”—lived up to their claim.
Since my family history is more Hava nagila than “Abie’s Irish Rose,” it was fun to immerse myself in something different, and proprietor Patricia Reed greeted guests at the door while providing me with a little background on the building itself. Built in 1910 by the Odd Fellows, the hall became the Hancock Opera House before the advent of movies, when it was changed to the Capitol Theatre, flourishing as such until the mid-1960s, then transforming again into a performance space for live theatre and the home of the Old Capitol Theatre Players. After that, the place morphed a few more times until Reed fell in love with it and set about creating the Lady.
Excitedly looking forward to the grand opening in June, Reed is already packing the calendar with Victorian high teas, wine tastings, country music and a variety of live entertainment. If The Stoutmen are any indication, the quality will be great, since they were totally in the zone, and (having donned the requisite beads and shamrocks) I felt like a part of the clan as I set off in search of being green.
Since the wonder dog was welcomed at the Shady Lady, I had no qualms about schlepping her along to Bethel the next day to say “hi” to Elizabeth Rose and set for a spell with her new group, the Sullivan County Songwriters Circle (www.scsongwriters.wordpress.com ), which is in residence at the Catskill Distilling Company every Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. Rose casually waved at me, while giving an over-the-top welcome to Dharma, and proceeded to entertain. “We always start out with a tribute to the Great American Songbook,” she informed the small crowd, “before doing what we’re here for—showcasing local talent and their original compositions.” Doing just that, Rose began with a fabulous rendition of “Ain’t Misbehavin’” written by Fats Waller, Harry Brooks (music) and Andy Razaf (lyrics), before moving on to her own hilarious “Enlightenment” and equally interesting, but more thought provoking “Oil.”
This was my first time hearing her and she was (IMHO) thoroughly entertaining, engaging and witty, just before another first occurred. The dog got so carried away with the tunes that she leaped out of her sling, gamboled about and (for a brief, shining moment) was a bit of a bother, pulling some of the focus from the entertainment and being less than a perfect guest. On the other hand, Rose was perfectly charming, laughing as Dharma zoomed around playing and asked that she “come back anytime.” I scooped her up and growled, “We’ll see about that,” before heading out to prepare for the next day and the first annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Narrowsburg, NY.
Since there were emerald-hued cavalcades and celebratory processions happening all over the region, I had called upon Sullivan West high school freshman Eric Michael Breihof for assistance, as he is quite the photographer and already well known in the area for his expertise behind the lens. “Wow, that sounds great!” he enthused. “I’d love to take photos for The River Reporter; sounds like fun!” Relieved that I could count on Eric to cover Saturday’s Jeffersonville parade (see his terrific shots on page 18), I acquiesced, and allowed the dog to come along on Sunday (wearin’ the green, of course) as we joined The River Reporter staff and spectators braving the cold for the parade. Despite the chill in the air, everyone had a swell time and donned boas, clovers, bowlers and beads as the festooned trucks, cars, flatbeds and ATV’s snaked their way through town, the kids gleefully snatching up candy tossed by those on “floats.”
All in all, a busy few days, interspersed with great music, new venues, community spirit in abundance and a slightly misbehavin’ dog, who managed to get my Irish up (while dancing a jig) before the weekend drew to a close. With a little help from my friends and coworkers, it turns out that it is easy, after all, being green.