URBANA — St. Patrick's Day isn't until March 17, but the upcoming weekend promises a "perfect storm" of Irish music, dance and art, according to Jake Schumacher, a musician steeped in the local Irish music scene.
From 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, All-Ireland flute and whistle champion Laurence Nugent will perform at the Spurlock Museum as part of the reception for the opening of the Bogside Artists' exhibit "From Protest to Peace."
Also appearing with Nugent will be Timmy O'Sullivan, a singer and storyteller from Kerry, Ireland, who is one of the most remarkable spoken word performers Schumacher said he's seen.
The event is free and open to the public. Following the concert, Nugent and O'Sullivan will perform at 9 p.m. at Dublin O'Neil's Irish Pub, 301 N. Neil St., C. That also is free.
An explanation from Spurlock on the Bogside Artists:
In 1994, brothers Tom and William Kelly and their friend, Kevin Hasson, joined together as The Bogside Artists. Having personally experienced the unfolding of the "troubles" in Northern Ireland, they wanted to express the struggle for civil rights in their community through public art.
While the group continues the Ulster tradition of using the mural for social commentary, the Bogside Artists stand alone in their efforts to use the medium in cross-community workshops with Protestants and Catholics to advance the peace and reconciliation process.
The "From Protest to Peace" exhibition, on view through June 16 at Spurlock, has a series of interpretive panels with information on the history and politics of Northern Ireland. The exhibit is on loan from the Georgia Southern University Museum.
On Saturday, the Illini Folk Dance Society will sponsor an entire day of Irish dance and music workshops at the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., U. The workshops will begin at 10 a.m. and continue through the day in both Irish set dancing (a precursor to American square dancing) and in ceili dancing (social dances, similar to country line dancing).
The instructors will be Donna Killen and Mary Carmody, who facilitate the set-dancing and ceili-dancing evenings every week at Gaelic Park on the South Side of Chicago. They will bring a dozen or so dancers and musicians from Chicago for the day.
At 7 p.m., a three-hour Ceili Dance will feature members of the Nashville Ceili Band from Nashville, Tenn., along with musicians from Gaelic Park in Chicago and local musicians.
"This is the first time, to my knowledge, that there will be a full-tilt ceili dance in C-U with a live 'big band,' and it promises to be a memorable event," Schumacher said.
The Saturday events are free to University of Illinois students with ID. Tickets for the public, available at the door, are $35 for the day, $7 per workshop and $15 for the evening dance.
Also, Full Set, a lively six-piece band from Ireland, will perform at 8 p.m. March 12 at the Independent Media Center in Urbana. That concert is organized by Dean Karres of the Piper's Hut Concert Series. For more information, visit http://www.pipers-hut.com/concerts.
As always, the Irish music session led by Schumacher takes place from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Dublin O'Neil's. Schumacher said there are plans for an "all-day" session March 16, beginning at about 2 p.m. People interested in that may call Josh Huddleston at 531-1152 at Dublin O'Neil's for more information.