For the love of green
Another St. Patrick’s Day Celebration is in the books! Downtown Roanoke celebrated again in grand style with its annual parade and Shamrock Festival. The crowds gathered early on Saturday as the parade kicked off at 11 am, and festivities went well into the wee hours of the night as people filled the streets, garbed in green, to partake in Irish merriment.
The opportunities for live music were plentiful. In addition to the three bands that played on the outdoor festival stage behind the City Market Building, many of the downtown bars featured an array of artists throughout the day. Corned Beef provided songs of the sea with Celtic band Second Wynde. Sidewinders Saloon featured two acts, Fuzzy Logic and Chris Bandi. While Martin’s Downtown hosted a block party complete with 13 bands that played on indoor and outside stages.
I was lucky enough to catch three of the acts and started things off with Major and the Monbacks. This funky band out of Norfolk, VA charmed the crowd on the outdoor Martin’s stage with a number of original hits that blend a 60’s sound with a little southern soul. With eight members, who play horns and percussion, keys, organ, guitar and bass, to say this band jams is an understatement.
Following Major, we took it down a notch and headed up the street to Blue 5 to catch the sweet, sultry sounds of Charlottesville band, Erin & the Wildfire. A native of the Blue Ridge region, Erin Lunsford has one of those voices you’ll never forget. I first had the pleasure of hearing Erin at FloydFest last July, where she blew me away early in her set with a cover of Susan Tedeschi’s, “It Hurt So Bad.” Erin and her UVA bandmates did not disappoint last night. The show featured originals interspersed with covers that ranged from Zeppelin, to the Black Crowes, Clapton, and the Bee Gees, “Staying Alive.” Erin & the Wildfire included the addition of trumpet and sax to the core guitar, bass, drum, and keys of the band.
The night ended back at Martins with Roanoke band Groova Scape on the indoor stage. Brittany Sparks, another female powerhouse on vocals, and Henry Lazenby on guitar, front this five-piece bluesy jam band. Groova Scape has become a mainstay in the Roanoke music scene, consistently pumping out powerful originals and covers which keep the crowd grooving and happy into the small hours. Last night’s performance saw the band rock the place with a Zeppelin/Clapton mashup, and later kept the groove going with an EXCELLENT cover of Pink Floyd’s “Time”.