by Mark Panfil

March is St. Patrick’s Day. At least that’s what I associate it with.

Do Irish music and bluegrass music have anything in common? Well, most certainly!

Bill Monroe, the undisputed father/inventor/original creator of bluegrass music, grew up in rural Kentucky in a then secluded mountain region near Owensboro. The music he played included blues, Celtic ballads and Irish/Scottish fiddle tunes.

Many of the songs he heard and played as a young boy became part of his repertoire and have stayed in the bluegrass “book.” Songs like the “Black Velvet Band,” “The Moonshiner” and “Red Haired Boy” (also known as “The Beggar Man”) and many more can be heard at jams and bluegrass concerts throughout the U.S. and beyond.

The instruments in Irish bands include folk guitar, mandolin, bass, fiddle, banjo, accordion, tin whistle and bodhran. Except for the last three, which bluegrass replaced with harmonica and dobro (very noble instruments, I might add), the instrumentation is basically the same.

Some people say, if you add the African-based blues influence to the Celtic tunes and ballads played in the Appalachian mountains, you get bluegrass — and Bill Monroe blended them to perfection.

Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road

This March in the Greater Buffalo area, we have scores of opportunities to see and hear great Irish, old timey and bluegrass bands focusing on their Celtic roots. Be my guest and check the calendar of or for current listings.

This month also has some great opportunities for one to catch some mighty fine bluegrass focused concerts.

Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road have been entertaining audiences in 40 states and 13 countries while scoring multiple hits and industry accolades. Based in North Carolina, this six -piece traditional bluegrass band will take the stage at the Clarence Center and Akron Mennonite Church, 11500 Clarence Center Road, Akron, on Thursday, March 12, at 7 p.m.

If you’re looking for some bluegrass on Saturday, March 21, you have two opportunities that night.

For those whose taste in bluegrass leans more toward the Old And In The Way band featuring Jerry Garcia, you should head down to the Tralf (next door to Shea’s in downtown Buffalo) to hear Keller Williams and his Grateful Grass Band, starting at 8 p.m.

For fans of the local band, Creek Bend, we are playing a blend of traditional bluegrass, country and original songs featuring hot instrumentals, captivating story songs and the good old country humor of Rich Schaefer. That show is at the East Aurora American Legion, 1 Legion Drive, East Aurora, starting at 7 p.m.

As always, you can see the Buffalo Bluegrass All Stars at the Sportsmen’s Tavern from noon to 2:15 PM every first and third Thursday of the month and a full list of all the bluegrass jam sessions is in the calendar of


Elmer Ploetz

Author Elmer Ploetz

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