This is the weekend when, overflowing glass in our hand and wacky slogan on our chest, we brave the crowds and the lines and the boisterous pageantry, to cloak ourselves in another culture, to down strong drinks, taste exotic dishes and dance badly to unfamiliar rhythms.
Happily, one of our favorite local singers, Sarah Packiam, born outside Dublin in County Wicklow, will be right in the middle of it. And we’ve got the perfect T-shirt to wear to her show, the one that says “Kiss Me, I’m Cuban!”
Packiam will be among the long list of performers at the annual Calle Ocho Festival 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday in Little Havana, a lineup led by Chino y Nacho (named Kings of Carnaval 2015), Johnny Dread, Ivy Queen, Nicky Jam, Jerry Rivera and others.
She is scheduled to play at 4:30 p.m. under the flag of the Louder Side, which will gather non-Latin-music acts on the 19th Avenue North Stage. Others performing on that stage throughout the day include AstroMaps, Raggy Monster, Quantum Waves, Scary Iowa, Above the Skyline and Sunghosts. (Calle Ocho info: CarnavalMiami.com)
“It will be a fun afternoon to share my Irish culture with my Miami people,” Packiam says. “Perhaps we’ll see a few early green T-shirts around.”
The Louder Side stage, in its second year at Calle Ocho, includes an anti-bullying theme that is important to Packiam.
“I’ve experienced bullying first-hand,” says Packiam, whose father, Peter, is a jazz-blues guitarist from Agra, India. “In school, when I was in Ireland, I was bullied, so I was really happy to be able to help out in any way and speak out about that.”
The singer says it’s unlikely she’ll perform anywhere on St. Patrick’s Day itself, due to the late-night demands of finishing her third album, called “Again,” which she hopes to release next month (stay tuned at SarahPackiam.com). The album has been recorded at producer-performer Marthin Chan’s Afonico Music in Miami and George Noriega’s Cutting Cane studio in Davie.
Packiam says the album, produced with Chan and frequent collaborator Tim Mitchell (Shakira, Gloria Estefan, Jon Secada), will see her edging toward a new sound: “Perhaps it’s more rock, and more indie. I hope people will find that my voice has opened up a little more. There are a few songs that I’m certainly belting.”
At Calle Ocho she’ll perform a new song she wrote about Miami called “Big World.” But it’s a recent song about New York City (written with Mitchell) that inspired a video with a unique global appeal: It features Packiam and international soccer star David Villa.
A conversation with a soccer-crazed New York friend inspired Packiam and Mitchell to write “New York City All The Way,” a salute to the Big Apple’s new MLS team, which stars former Barcelona star Villa. Through mutual friends, Packiam says, Villa heard the song, loved it and agreed to appear in its New York-set video.
“Such a humble guy. Considering he’s a superstar soccer player, he was so nice and very respectful and down to earth,” says Packiam, acknowledging that filming the more energetic scenes with such expensive legs, ankles and feet made her nervous. “We were jumping up and down a lot in the studio and I was thinking, I wouldn’t want to hurt him in any way!”
Packiam says they wanted to film scenes for the video on grass, but they couldn’t find a patch of green in snowy New York. No problem with that in South Florida this weekend, which brings a wave of St. Patrick’s Day celebrating that will run through the day itself on Tuesday.
The Fort Lauderdale St. Patrick's Parade and Festival on Saturday has become such a popular event that it’s hard to imagine that it did not exist for 20 years before being resuscitated by Mayor Jack Seiler in 2010. Highlights: Shamrock Run (four miles) is at 7:30 a.m., Las Olas parade at noon, U2 illusionists U2BYUV perform at the Huizenga Plaza after-party at 5:30 p.m. Info: FTLaudIrishFest.com.
The 47th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday in downtown Delray Beach will be an international event, with firefighter representation from Ireland, Canada, Australia, France and Belgium joining companies from around the United States. Balancing the solemnity of the display will be the chummy grand marshals, Big 105.9 wits Paul Castronovo and Young Ron Brewer. Info: StPatrickParade.com.
World of Beer in Coconut Creek (4437 Lyons Road) will have its fourth annual St. Pat’s block party beginning at noon Saturday with live music (Sosos, Thought Monkey, Dead Man’s Reach and Making Faces), daylong raffles to benefit Concerns of Police Survivors, and myriad specialty beers led by Funky Buddha’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter. Info: Facebook.com/WOBCoconutCreek.
If you’re still up for it, the city of Hollywood and Hibernians of Hollywood will throw their party noon-6 p.m. Sunday with a downtown parade and festival. The parade (1 p.m.) will feature the famous New York Police Department Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Corps, and the post-party will include Blackthorn, an Irish folk-rock band from Philadelphia. Info: StPatricksParade.com.
No simulations or ersatz Ireland at the 29th annual Irish Fest on Flagler in downtown West Palm Beach, two days of food, drink and music curated with faithful intent. Performers on Saturday and Sunday include the Noel Kingston Trio, Screaming Orphans, the Young Wolfe Tones and Off-Kilter. Admission: $5, 14 and younger free. Info: IrishFlorida.org.
Maguires Hill 16 (535 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale) famously begins its party at 8 a.m., and you haven’t really done St. Patrick’s Day in South Florida until you’ve had early morning eggs and a Guinness in this Flagler Village institution. Tuesday’s entertainment starts in the tent outside at noon. Info: MaguiresHill16.com.
O’Shea’s Irish Pub in downtown West Palm Beach will open at 10 a.m. Tuesday for their annual festivities, a party so energetic that it will force the city to close the 500 block of Clematis Street, lest a passing car tip over your drink. Info: OSheasPub.com.
Stout Sports Bar & Grill (3419 N. Andrews Ave., Oakland Park), owned by an Irish guy named Simon Kearney, if you’re looking for authenticity, won’t open until 11 a.m. on Tuesday. But they’ll have an officially sanctioned Jameson Ice Luge. Info: StoutSportsBarAndGrill.com.
On this greenest of weekends, Victoria’s Secret goes pink (which reminds me of an ill-fated visit to a Delta Zeta house party that would take too much time to recite here ... and I might cry). The audaciously timed Pink Nation Spring Break Bash, 1-4 p.m. Saturday by the pool at the Surfcomber (1717 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), will be hosted by Victoria's Secret models Rachel Hilbert and Gigi Hadid. DJ Irie will spin, but you already knew that. Sign up for an invitation at PinkNation.com. In case you can't visualize it yourself, here's an Irie's-eye view:
Green? Pink? How about Ron White? There are a few tickets remaining for the hard-drinking comedian’s Sunday show at the Broward Center. If you tilt the Ticketmaster seating chart on its side, the available seats look like bubbles in a tumbler of scotch and soda. Just saying. Tickets: $35-$64.90. Info: BrowardCenter.org. Singer Margo Rey will perform in the Broward Center’s Riverview Ballroom during a 9 p.m. after-party at husband Ron White’s show. Tickets via Ticketmaster.
Not to belabor an already liquor-moistened point, but comic actor Dan Aykroyd is coming to Stache (109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale) on March 20 to perform with the Blues Brothers Soul Band and introduce his diamond-filtered Crystal Head Vodka. Tickets: $9 via Ticketmaster. Info: StacheFTL.com.
DRINK UP, HONEY
The next installment of Science on Tap, the South Florida Science Center’s chatty-drinky get-togethers at O'Shea's Irish Pub in downtown West Palm Beach, comes 7 p.m. Thursday, March 19, and is called “The Buzz on Bees.” The guest speaker is Lee Wisnioski, a Palm Beach Gardens doctor and member of the Palm Beach County Beekeepers Association, who manages 20 hives at Running Water Farm, his five-acre coffee plantation. So you can ask him questions on a number of subjects. Admission is free, and drink specials will be available. Info: SFScienceCenter.org.
Sad that it took me so long to crack open the Mavericks album “Mono” (released Feb. 17), a wonderfully eclectic and confidently rendered reminder of the Miami-spawned band’s soulful instincts. Choice cuts include salsa-soaked “All Night Long,” the ska-paced “Summertime,” the bluesy pop of “What Am I Supposed to Do” and the old-school country of “Let It Rain” and “Pardon Me” (Raul Malo at his best). The Mavericks (Malo joined by guitarist Eddie Perez, Jerry Dale McFadden on keyboards and Paul Deakin on drums) are on the bill for the Tortuga Music Festival, April 11-12 on Fort Lauderdale beach. Info: TheMavericksBand.com.
DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL TICKETS
Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Friday for a performance by the reconstituted Dashboard Confessional, which Boca Raton alt-rock hero Chris Carrabba has put back together after a hiatus of several years. In a shout-out to the band’s “treasured fan base," Carrabba says, "We've missed you, friends.” The summer tour, with co-headliners Third Eye Blind, will stop at Bayfront Park in Miami on June 6. Tickets are $30.75-$45.25 at LiveNation.com. Info: DashboardConfessional.com.
JUANES IN MIAMI
Also on sale Friday are tickets for a Dec. 4 performance by global rock star Juanes, who will bring his Loco de Amor tour to Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena. Tickets are $37.50-$97.50 and go on sale 10 a.m. Friday via Ticketmaster. A dollar from every ticket sold goes to the Key Biscayne resident’s Fundación Mi Sangre. Info: Juanes.net.