We kind of started this pandemic with St. Patrick’s Day, and by golly we’re starting to end it that way as well.

Having this pandemic starting just before St. Patrick’s Day last year was extra painful for venues and bars who rely on the holiday for an extra push in foot traffic. Last year, resident Irish musician Nick Carswell managed to pull off his annual “Songs from Ireland” event just before the shutdown, but didn’t quite make it to the St. Patio’s celebration at Replay. When venues inevitably closed their doors in the interest of safety, he dug in his heels on the holiday, took to his driveway, unfurled his Irish flag, and played some Irish tunes for anyone passing by. It was a nice break in the tension for the oncoming dread that everyone was anticipating.

This year, we’re all in better spirits as we start to envision a return to live music in the coming weeks. The CDC has already issued guidelines on how fully vaccinated people can interact socially. While we’re all waiting on the season’s hottest accessory, a COVID vaccine, Nick Carswell is popping up again with some ways we can safely celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. We caught him under the giant, outdoor decorations at Lucia this week. Standing in for a pot of gold, he kicked off one of the happiest months of the year with a cover of “Fisherman’s Blues,” by The Waterboys (take that, TikTok Sea Shantys!).

Lucia is heavily decked out for the holiday, and running a strict reservation-based system for the temporarily-named “Shamrock Shack” starting on Thursday and going through March 21st (and possibly even longer, if KU advances in the NCAA tournament). 20 percent of Lucia’s proceeds go to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee to help in their fundraising efforts for local children’s charities. You can make a reservation at lucialawrence.com.

Carswell isn’t easing up on the the shamrock and roll (sorry, we’ll see ourselves out) this month. He’s hosting a virtual all-request piano show this Sunday at 7:00 p.m., and will be live streaming from Abe & Jake’s. And if you don’t have enough Irish in your life, he’s offering a St. Patrick’s Day special on his Patreon account now through March 17th, with daily performances of daily songs by Irish musicians.

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Fally Afani is an award-winning journalist with a career spanning more than 15 years in media. She has worked extensively in radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and more.

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