The time has come to wet the tea and pour yourself a pint of Gat, for it’s St. Patty’s season once again! Across the land, everyone with a pitcher of beer and a dollop of green food coloring will be celebrating the luck of the Irish, including several local drinkeries — and songeries.
The Ri Ra Pub, located inside The Quarter at Tropicana Casino and Resort, will lead the charge with a late-night performance by Ireland’s own — by way of Maryland — Empty Flask.
Ewan Brown, a native of Candada — the “Ireland of the North” — has been fronting the band since its inception almost 15 years ago.
“I basically kept checking Craig’s List and some other musician pages,” he says. “And I put the band together that way.”
Brown brings an authentic Celtic-feel to the band, as he performs many traditional instruments. Though he can be seen utilizing the mandolin, tin whistle, bodrahn and other items, his main form of musical expression on the stage is with the bagpipes. Strangely enough, he didn’t start out with a shamrock in his ear.
“I played the pipes for years before I actually got interested in Celtic music,” he reveals.
Though “Queen of Argyle,” “Home for a Rest” and other traditional songs fill out their set, Empty Flask brings a harder edge to the material than is usually expected, thanks primarily to Brown’s unorthodox style of bagpiping.
“I don’t really play them traditionally anymore,” Brown says. “I realized that I can expand and actually play rock on them.”
In fact, the group describes themselves primarily as “a classic rock band with bagpipes.”
Though the rock edge is quite prevalent in their sets, Empty Flask tries not to stray too far from the sounds of the Emerald Isle. However, Brown says the band mostly plays Celtic tunes.
After all, it’s the spirit of the holiday, and not necessarily the window settings, that the crowds adore.
“We try to keep the people drinking, dancing, and having a good time,” Brown says. “How often do you get to see men wearing kilts on stage?”
According to the ladies of South Jersey, not nearly enough.
Coming up: Empty Flask performs 11 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at Ri Ra Irish Pub at the Tropicana.
Lineup: Ewan Brown: vocals, bagpipes, mandolin, tin whistle, bodrahn, keyboard; Frank Warren: guitar and vocals; BJ Bollinger: drums; Jeff Havens: bass.
More info: EmptyFlask.org