March Nightlife Guide: St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, and Top Comedians

Kathy Griffin at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. photo: gdcgraphics and Wikipedia

Kathy Griffin at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. photo: gdcgraphics and Wikipedia

March is always a lively month due to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the NCAA Basketball tournament’s start. Also adding to the March energy is several top comedians performing shows here. Steve Martin and Martin Short are teaming up for two nights of comedy and music. They are joined by Martin’s occasional musical collaborators—The Steep Canyon Rangers and Jeff Babko. Near the end of the month acerbic and incredibly funny comedian, Kathy Griffin, will perform stand-up comedy in support of her recently released book, Kathy Griffin: Celebrity Run-in. Let’s get out and have some fun!

Friday, March 10

If you prefer a fun yet more dignified celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, then Club Cafe‘s sixth annual The Calm Before the Storm – A Night of Irish Traditional Music and Song with Mark Dignam & Friends might be just the ticket for you. Mark Dignam was raised in Finglas, a North Side Dublin suburb, where he showed early aptitude as a singer. At 18, he moved to Dublin and began busking on Grafton Street. The Waterboys, Van Morrison, and Sinéad O’Connor have watched him perform. Dignam released his debut LP, Poetry and Songs from the Wheel, in 1995. He is now Pittsburgh-based and has appeared on KDKA’s “Pittsburgh Today Live.” He and his band, The House of Song, released Re-Build in 2014. On his Facebook page, he called his Calm Before the Storm “a beautiful, beautiful night,” where he gets to celebrate his culture “(properly) with some of my most cherished (talented, singers, musician and poet) friends. 8 p.m. 56 – 58 S. 12th St., South Side. (CM)

St. Patrick’s Day Parade (March 11) and St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) Festivities

Saturday, March 11

If your neighborhood seems a little quiet this morning, it may be because over 200,000 Pittsburghers and visitors are downtown for The St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Begun as early as 1869 and billed as one of the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country, it includes bands, Irish organizations, Miss Smiling Irish Eyes, and just about every politician in Allegheny County. Every year brings something slightly different, although who could forget the 1993 parade, which continued despite a blizzard, the worst that the city had seen in over 100 years. (Hopefully no snow this year.) The parade begins at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 11th Street to Grant Street and then onto the Boulevard of the Allies, where it will turn right. It then marches down the Boulevard of the Allies to the parade reviewing stand at Stanwix Street, ending at Commonwealth Place. This year’s parade has a very special theme related to Ireland’s independence—The Easter Rising 100th Remembrance. Market Square has family and kid-friendly entertainment and activities from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Remember, anyone who wants to be Irish—is Irish—on St. Paddy’s Day! Parade starts at 10 a.m. Downtown. (RH/CM)

Parade Day and St. Patrick’s Day are good times to have a taste of Ireland’s native waters (Guinness, Harp, and Murphy’s brews are some good ones as are Tullamore Dew and Jameson Irish Whiskies). Have an old Irish toast, such as “May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you’re dead,” in any of several happenin’ Irish pubs including Mullaney’s Harp & FiddleMcArdle’sMurphy’s Tap Room, McFadden’s, Riley’s Pour House, or Claddagh.  For those who don’t imbibe or are designated drivers (thank you!), enjoy a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake, a soft drink, or a cup o’ hot tea. (RH)

One of the most happening spots to celebrate Parade Day (March 11) and St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) is Mullaney’s Harp and Fiddle. With a tent connected to the Pub, the celebration space is doubled. Irish bands and performers hold court all day and night in both spaces beginning at noon and going until about midnight. Mullaney’s will be featuring the top bands on the Pittsburgh Irish music scene including: Donnie Irish Band, Whiskey Limerick, Tulleycavey, and Guaranteed Irish. 2329 Penn Ave., Strip District. (RH)

Friday, March 17

Think traditional Celtic music but with some extra beats per minute—that’s Bastard Bearded Irishmen. The local group is helping Pittsburgh usher in St. Patrick’s Day with a party at the Rex Theater. Their latest album, 2014’s Rise of the Bastard, features 12 originals, like the throttling “Tomorrow,” as well as three traditionals, like “Three Drunken Maidens.” They performed at the Thrival Music Festival in 2016, and a remixed version of their debut, Rebastard, was released with two bonus tracks this year. In addition to a devoted, local following, the band is establishing a national presence. Rolling Stone mentioned them online as a “band to watch from Pittsburgh,” and they also have opened for heroes The Dropkick Murphys. Shelf Life String Band are North Side mainstays and have performed at The Park House and the Deutschtown Music Festival. They and Krank Daddies open. 8 p.m. 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. (EC/CM)

Tuesday, March 14

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, aka March Madness, starts today and continues through April 3. Our Pitt Panthers will probably not be receiving an invite to the dance this year, but there are plenty of top teams and Cinderellas to root on. Head on out to your favorite sports bar, neighborhood pub, or wing restaurant. Some suggestions are Cupka’s Cafe II, Cappy’s, William Penn Tavern, Bigham Tavern, Quaker Steak & Lube, The Saloon, and The Coal Mine. It’s also time to play your office tourney pool. (RH)

Wednesday, March 15 and Thursday, March 16

Two Martins, two nights. If you enjoyed Martin Short and Steve Martin’s witty banter in films such as 1986’s Three Amigos and 1991’s Father of the Bride, then check out their joint performance, “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Lives,” at the Benedum Center. The two will discuss their respective lives in show business. The evening will also include film clips and stand-up comedy. Short was a “Saturday Night Live” cast member for only one season (’84-’85), but he is credited, along with other members of that cast, with helping to revive the series. In addition to film, he has also performed on Broadway, including a one-man show, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me. Martin is an accomplished writer and actor, and he has hosted “Saturday Night Live” 15 times, second only to Alec Baldwin, who has hosted 17 times. Martin plays banjo and has frequently collaborated with Grammy-winning bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers. The group and Jeff Babko will perform with both comedians this evening, so, yeah, forgettable? Hardly. 8 p.m. both nights. 237th 7th St., Cultural District. (CM)

Sunday, March 26

Kathy Griffin—who was a member of the famous Los Angeles comedy improv group The Groundlings—first appeared on most people’s radar as a stand-up comedian on “Seinfeld.” In the episode, Jerry Seinfeld sees her act, which he thinks is not very good, and tries to mentor her. Griffin’s character doesn’t appreciate it and turns her act around by focusing on how Seinfeld is the Devil. She parlayed that sitcom success into a strong supporting role on the Brooke Shields TV comedy show “Suddenly Susan” in its run from 1996 – 2000. Her quick wit and rapid-fire delivery helped her win two Emmys for her Bravo show, “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.”  In 2011, Griffin became the first comedian to have four televised specials in a year. She’s on many people’s A-List, and you can see her live at the Benedum Center on her Celebrity Run-in Tour. She is touring in support of her book of the same name. Griffin is also a strong advocate for the LGBT community and Pittsburgh’s Delta Foundation is a co-sponsor of her appearance here. 7:30 p.m. 237 7th St., Cultural District. (RH)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central Pittsburgh and enjoys some Irish spirits occasionally.

Christopher Maggio also contributed to this piece and likes a good beer, green or otherwise.