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It Ain't Easy Being Green 

W hat is it about St. Patrick's Day that Americans have glommed onto it so? Our country's rich heritage of Irish immigrants? Doubtful. I think it's the drinking. Except for New Year, no other holiday lends itself quite so well to imbibing, even if the holiday has been Americanized to include oddities like green beer. Saturday, downtown was packed with folks wearing green for the St. Patrick's Day festival and parade. Locals got the rare opportunity to drink before noon and not feel bad about it. The parade itself was pretty run-of-the-mill: beauty pageant winners varying from apparent newborns to late teens; local celebrities (check out Rockin' Ray Gooding cruising in an old hoopty with Kelvin Seabrooks, a boxer who won a championship or two way back when); and community and political leaders. Legions of moppet cheerleaders? Roaring applause. Bass drum-pounding marching bands? Even I did a little jig. County commissioner Bill James? Silence. By the time the skies opened and drenched the crowd, many had already made their way to the festival in the First Union atrium, despite the entrance fee of five skins. Really -- is it worth shelling out five dollars for the privilege of eating overpriced greasy Polish sausages (nothing says Irish pride like a Polish sausage) and gulping down lukewarm beer, foods that you would ordinarily send back if you received them at a restaurant? Doubtful. Of note, however, were two dueling factions of bagpipe bands, who hardly let each other finish a song before cranking out one of their own. One of the groups had the right idea, however, and closed their set out with a version of "Amazing Grace," which stoked the patriotic fires of the huddled, Irish and American flag-waving masses (huddled, mind you, due to the lack of a dry place to sit), causing more than a few eyes to moisten and drawing the biggest applause of the day. And for this we repay them with green beer. God Bless America, indeed. " Tim C. Davis

Gone Green: A relatively young and ecstatic crowd filled the Grady Cole Center on Sunday for a show with trip-hop, rap-rockers 311. Since it was St. Patrick's Day, there was plenty of green to be seen (or rather exchanged). The show itself wasn't a cheap ticket, costing 25 greenbacks. Parking, if you could call it that, was $5, as were the brewskis while they lasted. And even a bottle of good ol' H20 cost $2, which was a buck too much. Concessions conveniently "ran out" of beer just as the band took the stage, leaving plenty of people disgruntled and green with envy. Apparently, though, the beer didn't run out soon enough for some ladies who were heard hurling in the bathroom -- or maybe they had turned green from being tossed around in the monstrous mosh pit which pulsated throughout the night in front of the stage. Although the band originally hails from Omaha, and they really don't have one tune that could pass as Irish, they were definitely down with the green, too. . .as in marijuana. As the band ripped through songs like "Hydroponic" and "Who's Got the Herb" and big, green images of pot leaves danced across the walls, it became obvious that money wasn't the only kind of green some concertgoers had on 'em, either. -- Lynn Farris

Scorchers and stogies: Longtime twang-punk favorites Jason and the Scorchers are celebrating their 20th anniversary by playing a six-show reunion tour. They packed the house at the Double Door Inn Friday night. The Scorchers, led by the spastic Jason Ringenberg, often didn't bother to finish verses, as the crowd shouted along the whole time. A sign on soundman Les Moore's console said "Les: Turn down heat," and couldn't have been more appropriate, given the band's Replacements-on-speed sound and the sweaty fans packed like sardines in front of the stage. One fellow thought the conditions perfect to light up a fat cigar -- the perfect accompaniment to a crowded room that already feels like it's right next door to hell -- sending billows of smoke into the faces of those standing all around him. One patron, a pierced and tattooed local musician, found inspiration in the country-punk sounds of the Scorchers, releasing a few volleys of spit onto the man's backside with every plume of smoke he released out of the smelly stogie. Smoke 'em (or soak 'em) if you got 'em. -- Tim C. Davis

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