St. Patrick’s Day Arrived Early in Oakland With Driving with Fergus
Friday, March 15, as a part of the CBRE sponsored, Oakland City Center Winter Event series, the city celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day with a lunchtime concert at noon with Driving with Fergus. There are more than 30 chairs laid out in front of the stage, tables with umbrellas and chairs from the surrounding restaurants, coffee and pastry shops. The audience is made up of curious passerby’s, a group of dancers, and supporters of the band, and supporters of the well-established City Center concerts, all ready to welcome Driving with Fergus. Four musicians take the stage, punctually and the celebration begins.
Oakland native and longtime City Center concertgoer, Roxanne Tobler says, “Well, we’ve been listening to the concerts for all the years they’ve had them.” According to Clarisa Obeso, Oakland City Center Events Coordinator, “The plaza concerts have been done mostly off and on for the last 13 years.” When Rick Borboa, also an Oakland native remembers that it was Pete Escobedo who played at the first City Center Concert, Tobler says, “that was so much fun, got everyone up and dancing.”
This concert was not the exception for dancers. In addition to passersby and onlookers who moved their feet or at the very least their heads to the rhythm of the music; the band gave a warm welcome to a group of dancers at the beginning of the concert. They do not have name or a website. They do not consider themselves a dance troop. “We’re just a group of friends,” said Jefferey Braenion of Lafayette, Calif. Chris Stehlik of Berkeley, Calif chimed in to explain that what they were doing was “Ceili dancing. It’s a form of Irish social dancing.” The dancing group of five men and two women even welcomed other audience members to join their dance circle.
Tao Matthews, another Oakland resident jumped in with the group of dancing friends. “I love to dance, but I’m not any sort of professional,” she says. Matthews acknowledges that in order for her to come out to a City Center concert the entertainment has to be something that is very appealing to her. In this case she mentions that this particular band managed to bring her out today, because “I love Irish, authentic, Irish music. You know, the way that people listen to it in the pubs over there.” Matthews references the authentic instruments that the band uses, which are described in detail in the instrument section of their website.
City Center events take place on Wednesday’s from noon to 1 p.m. and celebrate events such as New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, spring, Saint Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo.