The Newburyport area will be a sea of green Saturday as local restaurants and churches display some Irish pride.
Revelers looking to don some green and revel in their Irish heritage can enjoy a variety of St. Patrick's Day entertainment — whether it's listening to renditions of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" or "Wild Rover" or some more traditional tunes, such as "I'll Tell Me Ma" or "Come by the Hills."
At First Parish Church in Newbury, singer Michael O'Leary, 57, of Gloucester will entertain with "traditional Irish songs and tunes" on Saturday night.
"I cover a wide range," he said.
"Traditional songs go so far back that you can't pinpoint their origin or who wrote them," O'Leary said. "They have been passed on from generation to generation."
His repertoire includes narrative ballads, celebratory songs, instrumental tunes like jigs and reels, and a number of airs. Each of these genres features a different style, and O'Leary likes to mix them up in his concerts.
"An air is a slow, very emotive, poignant, Celtic melody," O'Leary said. "A lot of the songs I like to sing, if you stripped away the words, you would be left with an air: a lone piper or whistler."
O'Leary especially loves Celtic singing in its purest form, which is called "sean nos," or "old style," singing.
"That's the true song tradition in Ireland — unaccompanied singing. I like to do one or two a cappella songs in my concerts, to touch on those traditions," he said. One a cappella song he plans to sing on Saturday night is "Erin Gra Mo Chroi" or "Ireland of my heart."
Singing a cappella allows a singer more freedom to pause or change a tempo, O'Leary added.
O'Leary counts among his influences singers such as Niamh Parsons and Robbie O'Connell, Tony Cuffe, Liam Clancy and Andy M. Stewart.
"Robbie is a nephew of the Clancy Brothers and toured with them for many years," O'Leary said. "He lives in Rhode Island and has become a friend and mentor of sorts."
For much of the show he will be joined by some musical friends: Steve Levy, Linda Swicker and David de la Barre, all of whom are from the North Shore. The group plays a variety of instruments such as a tin whistle, Scottish small pipes, bodhran (Celtic drum) and guitar, while O'Leary sings.
The fun begins at 7:30 p.m.
Admission to the concert is $15 at the door and $12 if purchased in advance by calling 978-465-5597. The church is located at 20 High Road, Newbury.
Two of Newburyport's pubs will also get into the St. Patrick's Day spirit.
The Port Tavern in Newburyport will begin the party earlier in the day. Live music by the Wilmington Celtic band, Jolly Rogues, will begin at 11 a.m., said manager Abbie Pierce.
The music will conclude at 2 p.m., she added. Admission is $5.
Like many other restaurants, the Irish pub will also offer a menu with the Irish staple: corned beef and cabbage.
While this is the first time in The Port Tavern's three-year history in Newburyport that the holiday falls on a Saturday, Pierce said St. Patrick's is obviously a big day at the State Street eatery.
"Most years, by 3 p.m., there's a line to get in," Pierce said, which is one reason why the live entertainment stops early in the day. The upstairs room will be open on Saturday, as well, she said.
At The Grog, two different performances will entertain diners on Saturday..
Newburyport singer Jamie Welch, 25, will play an assortment of traditional Irish pub songs throughout the day. His afternoon set in the main bar will run from 4 to 6 p.m., and then he will perform upstairs from 7 to 9 p.m.
Welch said his play list will include such favorites as "Wild Rover," Whiskey in the Jar," "Hills of Connemara" and "The Rising of the Moon." He will also sing his personal favorite — "Black Velvet Band," which was the first Irish song he learned.
A fourth generation Irish American, Welch said he's proud of his heritage and discovered Irish music as a 19-year-old.
"Something about it speaks to me," he said.
Starting at 9 p.m., local band Joppa Flatts will take the stage at The Grog for a St. Patrick's Day party.
Lead guitarist Chris Santarelli of Newburyport said the band lucked out when their performance was scheduled for a Saturday, which happened to be St. Patrick's Day.
"It just worked out great," he said. "It's a night to go out and have a lot of fun, and celebrate."
While Joppa Flatts plays classic rock or blues, such as the Beatles, Eagles and Doobie Brothers, Santarelli said they may mix it up some and "play some U2."
"It's a diverse mix," he said.
In the spirit of the day, the band will wear their green, Santarelli said — despite that he's Italian.
For those who can't wait until Saturday and want to start their celebration early, the Belleville Roots Music Concert Series will host a St. Patrick's Day spectacular tonight with a trio of performers direct from Ireland: Teada, Seamus Begley and dancer Brian Cunningham.
The concert starts at 8 p.m. at Belleville Congregational Church, 300 High St., Newburyport.
Tickets are $25 and $10 for children 12 and under.
Also, tomorrow night Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury will kick off St. Patrick's Day weekend by hosting the U2 tribute band, The Joshua Tree.
The band covers U2's career and plays each song "with the same intensity and emotion," noted organizers.
The show begins at 8 p.m. Admission is $15. Tickets can be purchased at www.blueoceanhall.com or by calling 978-462-5888.
Staff writer Will Broaddus contributed to this article.