One of the coolest things we learned at the North Texas Irish fest was how to attract musicians to your table. First you invite a well known performer to sit at your table. This acts as bait for other performers to come up and say hi and join in the conversation. OK. We didn’t really plan it that way, but that’s how it worked out.

We stayed at the host hotel, Radisson Central, where the performers and other out of towners were staying for NTIF. After the festival is over for the day everyone hangs out in the bar. Melissa and I were sitting at a table when Ed Miller and his wife walked in. We waved hi upon mutual recognition. Melissa and I hosted Ed Miller for a house concert the previous winter and so he knew us. Being the polite person he and his wife asked if they could join us. Like he needed to ask. We said sure. We had a lovely conversation. During the course of the evening in walked Liz Carroll who came over to say hi to Ed and she joined us. Máirtín de Cógáin also chatted with Ed though he didn’t sit.

We also had a lovely conversation with Liz Carroll. She’s plays Irish fiddle and is amazing. We’d seen her perform with Daithi Sproul in Tulsa last year before we moved to Tucson. She was performing at NTIF with her usual partner John Doyle. While we were chatting Liz said she was going to be performing for President Obama on St. Patrick’s Day. It wouldn’t be at the White House, but at the Capitol Building. Nancy Pelosi was hosting a luncheon for the President. I asked Liz if she’d gotten the gig because she was from Chicago. She pretty much thought that was part of it.

I don’t recall the exact details of what she said but this was the gist of it. She told us how John Doyle had called her up and asked how’d she’d like to play for free but told her she’d want this gig. Turns out when you perform for the President it’s on your own dime. I guess it’s the prestige thing. I knew that Obama had Irish ancestry. His great-great grandfather is from Moneygall in County Offaly. It was doubly cool for Liz because she told us her parents were from County Offaly.

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day I thought I’d share this Barack O’Bama is Irish video. It was actually recorded during the campaign, but worth trotting out again. It’s not Liz or John.

Here’s a link to a Liz Carroll and John Doyle video (embedding disabled) if you haven’t heard or seen them perform:

And for all those of Irish ancestry (or not) check out Jimmy Crowley & Máirtín de Cógáin’s Captain Mackey’s Goatskin and Stringband Soldier’s and Songs: The Irish Abroad and Soldiering. Website says the CD is not out yet. It is, and it’s very good.

One last note. Speaking of Irish soldiering abroad. You’d think that Tucson as we know it today was founded by the Spaniards would not have a reason to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Well you’d be partly wrong. The presidio that became Tucson was setup by an Irishman in the service of the Spanish in 1775. He was known as Don Hugo O’Conor (born Hugh O’Conner in Dublin).