Going on continuously around the tri-state area are some 20 weekly Irish music sessions, and if you scan http://www.my.calendars.net/ceolagusrince -- and I hope you do -- from time to time looking for good traditional music and dance venues, you might be surprised by the amazing number of choices you have.
There is really nothing like live music, and the talent out there on any given night or day is exceptional, most of it available at little or no cost to you which in these recessionary times means you can get out and about without breaking the bank if you still have money in it.
Recently I took a ramble into New York City on a Saturday afternoon to take a look and listen at a session at Lillie’s, an Irish Victorian bar and restaurant named for the colorful and well traveled actress and socialite Lillie Langtry who bridged the 19th and 20th centuries.
This fairly new session started up in the spring by singer guitarist Donie Carroll from Cork and Dan Neely, banjoist from Massachusetts members of the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Band, actually starts out in broad daylight, and thanks to an overly tall and curved glass storefront on the historic hundred year old building, it remains that way for the session that ends around 7 p.m.
Even though the darkness will advance earlier as autumn turns into winter, the enticing view directly on the session circle for Union Square shoppers and strollers in the area that once housed perfume shops called the Ladies Mile District seems as effective as any scent in alluring the adventurous to pop in for further glance at the music and the charming Victoria look of the deep and narrow Irish bar.
The session music has a relaxed feel without amplification, and on this occasion had the popular Pearl River fiddle teacher Rose Conway Flanagan as the main guest attraction of hosts Neely and Carroll, who maintain a friendly and knowing watch over their guest musicians.
As the three hours unfolded, streams of people walked in and settled for a drink or unusual pub grub at the bar that traveled from a Belfast hostelry where its time had been served, and now found a new home under the clever management of co-owners Frank McCole (Monaghan) and Tom Burke (Mayo).
The amiable governors met and partnered in the construction trade and later in the restaurant field, opening the tony Midtown eatery Papillon in the old spot held for so long by Reidy’s restaurant, an old fashioned Irish family joint.
They set their sights on the old Perfume Shop that lay dormant for 25 years at 13 East 17th Street until a new owner saw greater potential with the enterprising pair after experiencing the culinary delights of Papillon.
Proving it is who you know that can make the difference, painter by day Donie Carroll knew the lads, so when they thought that a good Irish music session would compliment their new place he was commissioned, and Neely came along as well.
Neely’s wordsmith and comical writing skills help draw people there with his clever weekly e-alerts touting the real or imagined attributes for each of their special guests.
For now the concept of this early session is holding up well for all the parties and the atmosphere is so relaxed that even the owners find time to unwind there on a Saturday afternoon after a busy week.
No fear though -- the idea of a late session will never go out of fashion elsewhere. Sean Clohessy from Limerick is up this week (September 12), with Ivan Goff the following week (September 19).