On Friday night, December 2nd, Jon Shea, Nick Hoen, and I will be playing Irish tunes at Basil in dirty ol’ Weston. The set list includes rebel standards that we played for a years, but in these last couple weeks, we’ve had good laughter while adding new tunes and songs. The lads are still the enfant terrible lads, but this time we’re a little more seasoned, a pinch more cooked, a dash more true.
We thank Jim and Tee Daly and the Basil staff for inviting us, and thank all of you who asked at the Central Wisconsin Irish Fest if the lads Magees were going to play again.
Since our last gig as a band, in August, 2012, Nick has been playing guitar nearly every weekend with Carmen Hoen in Open Tab, their husband/wife acoustic duo. They’ve also been regularly gigging with their 4 piece rock band, The Third Wheels. Nick still kicks Irish rhythm guitar in spectacular fashion.
Jon has been gigging occasionally with his fiddle playing friend Fergus, and over the last four-years, continues wooing forth the pinched reedy notes hidden deep in the sacristy of his uilleann pipes; this in addition to his excellent mandolin, whistle, and guitar playing. Jon is not like everybody else; and nobody plays like him either. Recently, he started teaching the whistle to his son Finley, and while Finley doesn’t know yet how lucky he is to have his pops teach him, someday he will.
HOW THIS STARTED 9 years ago
In December, 2007, Debbie Iozzo invited three Norwegian and German-American guys that were working on Irish songs to play them at Iozzo’s Italian restaurant in Wausau. That night, Jon came to Iozzo’s with his whistles after having read Dino Corvino’s City Pages article about the newly formed Irish band, which Dino titled, “Cultural Confusion and Drinking Songs.”
And while everyone I know has experienced a lot of cultural and personal changes these last 9 years, cultural confusion and drinking songs – that first brought us together – calls us once again to do what we joyfully do.
We play these Irish tunes because they help us keep alive the persistent rumor that music embodies the possibility for consistency, or at the least a bit of continuity in the earthly steps of fife and drum, strings, and the strummed chords that amplify some major or minor arcana of magic. Irish music is the music of loss and defeat, but it’s also the music of magic, propelling humans to survival and opening the way to transformation for the earthly steps we trod. It’s like the ethos of Midwest hope, most stubborn against all odds.
Finally, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is something tenacious about The Magees as a band name, because every time we try to come up with a new one, our ideas start low and degenerate into words that we shouldn’t speak in public. I could write – for your eyes only – on some of these ‘better ideas,’ but I’m sore afraid. And though I’m normally for disclosure, in this case it’s probably good to be private. And while Jameson Whiskey has been known to loosen lips, for now we’re The Magees, coming to you with cultural confusion and drinking songs on Dec. 2nd at Basil in dirty ol’ Weston.
On that night, if the Luck O’ the Irish is with us, and stars align; if tunes and rebel songs and Jameson do their work then perhaps all the smiles will be a little sweeter, all food will be a little better (if that’s even possible), all the strumming and piping will raise up a hint of magic, and by virtue of a lilting tune, brighten our darkness and move us to dance *in tyme* to the well-seasoned light and heat of fall.
Music will start around 7:30 on the 2nd. We and look forward to seeing you. For Bob Robinson, and others that want to hear Van Morrison, I think we’ll be taking a seasoned trip “Into the Mystic” at about 9:00 or 9:30. I hope to see you then.
A Dedication: Raechel Miller, Carmen Hoen, Debbie Iozzo. The ruling on the field is guilty and it has been substantiated by replay. The bawdy revelry from lads in the band demands that they be thoroughly and justly sentenced. But the women in their lives – far better reflections of their best sensibilities – Debbie, Raechel, and Carmen, offer their absolution in unearned love. It’s unclear to me how that happens, but it clearly trumps guilty verdicts, and is the real miracle of seasoned time. We are deeply grateful to them. We love you too! I know that we wouldn’t be we without you being you.
Extra Acknowledgements: Our friends at Basil that we’ve met through music; Denny at McGann’s Wine Bar in Boulder Junction, and Cory Holm at Limericks in Wausau.