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Musical Instrument Museum's "Experience Ireland" Brings Irish Traditions to Phoenix in March

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If your blood runs even a wee bit green, then the Musical Instrument Museum's "Experience Ireland" celebration is a must-see happening. The weekend event (March 16 and 17 -- of course) features a plethora of events, performances and activities celebrating St. Patrick's Day and that tiny Emerald Isle in the North Atlantic.

See also: - Acclaimed "Fighting Irishmen" Exhibit Comes to ICC's McClelland Library - Gallery Celtica Transforming into Roosevelt Gallery and Bier House - Want to Go to Ennis, Ireland? Audition for UK-Based Reality TV Show, Twin Towns.

There will be plenty to see, do, and learn on this weekend, including live music, storytelling, dance, museum exhibits, and more. Tramor, featuring multi-instrumentalist John Good, with mandolin virtuoso Billy Parker, harpist John Piggott, and storyteller Liz Warren performs on Sunday. This quartet invokes subtle twists in its creation of traditional Celtic and Welsh music.

The clacking sounds and rhythmic movements of the Maguire Academy of Irish Dance can be seen and heard both afternoons. This local dance company will demonstrate Irish céilí and step dancing and teach willing souls how to dance a jig.

There also will be children and adult activities all day, including building and decorating a bodhran frame drum used in traditional Irish music. Children can also make special St. Patrick's Day badges. Museum curatorial assistant Clint Spell will offer an exhibit talk examining the connections between Irish and Irish American musical culture, including many of the instruments now found on in both countries such as flutes and whistles, concertinas, harps, bodhrans, and more.

A special family-friendly Celtic drumming class, part of MIM's monthly "Get the Beat! World Drumming Series" happens Saturday. Participants will learn the basics of that Irish beat, and then have plenty of time to bang away in hopes of mastering it. Maybe Bono will show up and join in?

Or maybe it will be someone from Altan, the 25-year-old Irish folk band from County Donegal playing two Sunday evening shows in the MIM theater. Fronted by fiddler and vocalist Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Altan balances traditional Irish songs with rowdy pub-inspired reels and jigs.

But all this dancing and building and banging can only work up an appetite, and Ireland is famous for its hearty foods to keep a person going strong. The hungry should wander over to museum's café where such Irish standards as corned beef and cabbage soup, roasted salmon marinated in Irish whiskey and honey, Irish stout lamb stew with potatoes, carrots and parsley, and chicken and dumplings with black and tan sauce and mustard-spiced potatoes will be available. Wash it all down with a nice Irish Julep! That's a good laddy.

Performances and activities run 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Altan performs at 6 and 8 p.m.) Many are free with museum admission; others come with an additional cost. A complete schedule and price breakdown can be found at www.mim.org.

The Musical Instrument Museum is located at 4725 East Mayo Boulevard. Call 480-478-6000 for additional information.

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