March 17, 2013

Downtown Hallowell celebrates Irish music

A benefit raises money for the Dempsey Challenge, while local bars feature bands playing Irish songs.

By PAUL KOENIG Kennebec Journal

HALLOWELL - Irish music was at the center of St. Patrick's Day celebrations downtown, with one for charity and others for the worthy cause of dancing and merrymaking.

click image to enlarge

Adam Soosman, left, and Will Fahy, 13, play tin whistles Sunday at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell. The duo played traditional Irish songs on the instruments during a fundraiser at the gallery on St. Patrick’s Day.

Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

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An art gallery hosted a show benefiting a group raising money for an organization supporting cancer patients, and local bars had bands playing more modern Irish and Celtic songs.

The part-fundraiser, part-St. Patrick's Day show at Harlow Gallery had Adam Soosman and Will Fahy playing traditional Irish music on tin whistles and flutes.

The event was organized by a team raising money for the Dempsey Challenge -- a running, walking and cycling fundraiser held in October.

All the money raised by the race goes to the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing in Lewiston.

Soosman, a local music instructor, said he's been teaching Fahy, 13, how to play the instruments for the last two years.

They both performed last year at the gallery for the holiday. Fahy, an eighth-grader at Hall-Dale Middle School, was a bit more green then.

Fahy said he could play a lot more difficult pieces during this year's hourlong show. He said the two St. Patrick's Day shows have been his only public performances, besides with the school.

"I don't do it that often, but it's fun," he said.

Soosman did his best to dress for the occasion, wearing an olive green shirt, green leather vest and green corduroy pants, topping it off with a green velvet hat.

The fundraising team is mostly from Belgrade, but they call themselves Team Hallowell.

It's named after one of the organizers, Judy Hallowell, and her husband, David, who died of a brain tumor two years ago.

Hallowell, 49, said the team, now in its second year, raised almost $10,000 last year.

"Cancer touches all of us," she said. "It doesn't discriminate."

Another team member from Belgrade, Jason Carey, helped organize the music portion of the event. After the tin flute show finished, he joined Soosman with another local musician, Seth Pillsbury, to play more Irish music.

Across the street at Higher Grounds, local band The Whitefields played for a small, green-clad crowd of people dancing and stomping their feet.

Sam Shain, who played with his band the night before at the bar, watched from a chair, while his girlfriend, Kara St. Hilaire, danced to the tunes.

"The Whitefields are a great local band," said Shain, 25, with an almost-finished mimosa at his side.

St. Hilaire, 23, described the night before as "a blur of green."

Shain, of Hallowell, sported a Boston Celtics jersey and a 30-year-old corduroy Celtics hat with a green brim.

A few doors down, members of the local folk and bluegrass band JohnnyNoShoes prepared for its evening show at the Liberal Cup.

Patrick Cunningham, lead singer and banjo player for the group, said they would be playing Celtic and Irish music, such as songs from the Dubliners and the Pogues.

Cunningham, of Hallowell, said they do a special show every year for St. Patrick's Day.

"I love it. It's a lot of fun," he said.

Paul Koenig can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

pkoenig@mainetoday.com

 

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