Join Waukesha resident Brien Lee and his blog, Sir Fido, as they explore the city and report on the interesting things they find.
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What a pleasure it is to visit Milwaukee's lakefront on a beautiful August morning for the largest outdoor mass in America followed by a day enjoying America's largest Irish music and culture festival.
Every year I enjoy it more than the last. The woman signing for hearing impaired gave me food for thought while I waited for the mass to start. There are many ways to enjoy the largest music festival in America. . . even if you can't hear it. Obviously, fantastic sights are all around. The taste and aroma of Irish food and drink surrounds you, the feel of cool lake breezes on your skin. . .
Drumming is everywhere at Irish Fest. You don't have to hear it to feel it. There's the bass and tenor drums of pipe and drum corps; huge lambeg of Northern Ireland; djembe or long drum; snare and the most common drum in Irish music; the bodhran. Not to mention the beat of Irish hard shoe dancing.
It was my great pleasure to take an introductory lesson in bodhran playing Sunday. The lesson did so much to answer the many questions I had. Chiefly, could I make any good sounds, and was it easy to play? It was Walton Music's attempt at increasing sales, but it was a soft sell and if I had a spare $60.00 I would have bought one too. The free lessons have been around every year, but I've never noticed them before. So glad I did, it was a lot of fun.
I have to see Irish dancers, bagpipes and tug-of-war while visiting Irish Fest, but it makes little difference which group they're with because they're all good. The only specific music group I have to see while there is Different Drums of Ireland. They really put on a good show, and I wasn't disappointed this year.
Basically, I'm free to roam about the grounds and observe all that's new and good with Ireland without a schedule to tie me down. The most surprisingly good music I stumbled upon came from the Tipperary Stage. The music produced by the young adults from the Academy of Irish Music was of such incredibly high caliber I had a hard time convincing myself they don't play professionally for a living.
The signer for the mass got me thinking; is it possible to capture Irish Fest without sound? I know it's possible. My camera makes me do it; it's never captured audio. See what you think.