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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 15, 2011

Celtic spirit rocks Altamont at first Shamrock ’N’ Roll festival at the fairgrounds

By Jordan J. Michael

ALTAMONT –– As fans of Irish music descend upon the quiet village of Altamont, you can smell the aroma of beer and whiskey.

By the time Dropkick Murphys, a famous Celtic punk rock band from Boston, took the stage as headliners of the first Shamrock ’N’ Roll festival at the fairgrounds, people were dancing circles around themselves.

To close its set, the Murphys invited about 100 female fans up to the stage for a sing-along of the Dropkick classic, “Kiss Me, I’m S**tfaced.” The rest of the rambunctious crowd sang along, too, as bassist/vocalist Kenny Casey slung an animated female fan over his shoulder while trying to play bass at the same time.

It was a wild time, but such a blast.

The first act to grace the stage was Mahones, a Canadian Celtic punk band. Lead singer/guitarist Finny McConnell labeled the festival the “best Celtic music line-up ever assembled,” as the fans in attendance cheered in agreement.

Accordion player Katie McConnell wielded her instrument like a mad woman, almost on the verge of falling over. Mahones were formed in 1990 and finished the set with “Drunken Lazy Bastard,” as fans raised their beer cups to the sky.

The most gleeful and serene set on Sunday was from the Parkington Sisters, a four-piece band of sisters from Wellfleet on Cape Cod. Nora, Rose, Sarah, and Ariel Parkington stood in a line with two fiddles, a floor tom, and an acoustic guitar.

Nora –– beautiful, blond, and thin –– was the centerpiece of the attractive group. She pounded on her floor tom like there was no tomorrow, singing loudly as her sisters harmonized around her. Their set was quick, but emotive and inspiring.

“We’re sharing something,” Nora told The Enterprise; she later picked up a microphone during Dropkick’s set to sing a song with lead vocalist Al Barr. “We’re emotionally connected,” she said.

The Parkington Sisters have plenty of originals, but covered Radiohead’s “There, There” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”  Rose Parkington told The Enterprise that “There, There” is the first song the sisters covered.

“We have this secret power when we play,” Rose said. “I think it’s really positive when young girls watch us play. They might go start a band, too.”

The Shamrock ’N’ Roll festival is over 10 straight days, in several locations. The Dropkick Murphys did two shows at Fenway Park in Boston before opening the festival in Bangor, Maine on Saturday. After Altamont, Shamrock traveled to Pittsburgh, Pa. and then onto Columbus, Ohio.

The festival also featured Street Dogs, Stiff Little Fingers, Chunk Ragan, and a local band of choice for each stop.

“Great folk and punk music, together,” said Nora Parkington, who grew up with punk music. “The best fans, ever. This music is hand-crafted and it’s our core. We build around that.”

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