In the documentary Beautiful People we are introduced to ten musicians involved with the longest running traditional Irish Seisiun at Dempsey’s in New York City. The characters explain not only their interest in traditional music, but offer a glance inside their personal stories to try and find out what draws them each week, for so many years to spend their Tuesday evenings together at Dempsey’s.
Director Elzbieta Szoka and Producer Sam Adelman wandered into Dempsey's Pub on Second Avenue after a screening of their last film, Welcome to Academia. The pair was not expecting anything besides a few hours of mingling; however they immediately realized that they had stumbled upon their next project.
The work on Beautiful People began two years ago. In order to gain the trust of the musicians the filmmakers observed and interviewed the players for about six months before showing up with cameras and invading the sanctuary of the Seisiun. Aware of the “outsiders” tag, Szoka and Adelman wanted to portray their enthusiasm for this project with the same passion the musicians had for the music.
With neither filmmaker having any background in traditional Irish music, or the hierarchy and etiquette involved with Seisiuns, there was a great deal of research to be done. According to Adelman “Not only had we found a traditional Irish music jam session in NYC, but also discovered an environment of passion and camaraderie amongst its members.”
The Dempsey’s Seisiun is unique in that it truly is an “Open Seisiun.” All of the musicians are amateurs who play for their own personal enjoyment and the atmosphere is inclusive. John Nevin leads the evening without turning people away, or any sense of elitism, people come for the love and passion of the music.
John himself has become the face of the Tuesday night gatherings, and all of the musicians cite John’s affable nature as being one of the driving forces behind their continued attendance, and their growing confidence. In his interview Nevin explains that “my connection to this music is part and parcel of staying connected to my parents and the land they came from.”
Beautiful People is an enjoyable documentary focusing not on Traditional Irish music, but on the specific Seisiun at Dempsey’s, the players who would be lost without it, and the camaraderie that comes along with it. The filmmakers are continuing to screen film, and will be doing so at many of the Irish Festivals throughout the Country and a five city Canadian tour. They are also working on organizing evenings in local pubs, where the film is shown, and a Seisiun follows. For more information on the film please visit BeautifulPeopleDocFilm.com
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