Pub Music=Awesome

I found out about a pub in the north city. I was told it was a great place to go if I wanted to hear good music. Well, I wanted to hear good music, and Shane was down for it, so we crossed the River Liffey in search of the Cobblestone. It looked pretty much like all the pubs in town. Dark outside, with shiny-ish letters announcing the name. Basically, you can’t walk down a street in Dublin without passing a pub or two or three or…you get the idea.

So, we push our way past the smokers at the front door, (I’m sorry smokers, but it is so awesome that there is no smoking allowed in buildings anymore), and immediately we see and hear a small group of people at the front of the pub sitting and playing instruments. 5 or so of the 7-8 musicians were in their early to mid twenties, which I have to admit was a bit of a surprise to me. I guess I was imagining gnarled, wizened, bearded old men with fiddles and tin whistles, but the majority of these folks were young, dark-haired, moderately trendy girls. Well. How about that?

We walked to the back, automatically assuming we wouldn’t be able to find a closer seat in the crowded room, but upon returning to the front, found two stools about a foot away from the music circle, and ordered our standard cokes. The proceedings were rather serious. Everyone was focused on listening to the music and following the changes as they switched from one tune to another. Nobody really seemed to be leading the group, it was more like if someone had a song they wanted to play, they started up, and those who knew it, which was everyone for the most part, joined in.

Shane and I were sitting right next to a gentleman who we learned was a big fan of this venue. He mentioned that he played the mandolin, but mainly acted as audience. He had a lot of information to share about the way things worked in this venue. Different people were in charge of sets during each evening and while most groups played Irish traditional jigs and reels (he also taught me how to distinguish between the two) but one or two evenings people play bluegrass. Apparently bluegrass is very popular here. Sometimes there are people doing traditional dancing, but I can’t say that interests me.

Within the music cluster, there was one concertina, one piano accordion, three fiddles, three black flute-like instruments, one tin whistle, and a man playing the Irish bag pipes, which are much, much quieter then Scottish. We were all pretty crammed in, but it was great. The intensity and energy of the players was infectious, and the time flew by, despite my trying to be adventurous and ordering the ‘white lemonade’ which it turned out was full of artificial sweeteners and tasted like a household cleaner…or the way I imagine household cleaner to taste…at least we only had one glass to finish between the two of us.

One thing that surprised me about the music was that everyone played in unison. Except for one tune, where the guy with the accordion played some simple harmonizing notes. It didn’t sound boring, or anything, but I still found it a little strange that harmony wasn’t a standard part of the affair. Our bar neighbor said that since the line switches from tune to tune, everyone is paying close attention to the melody, and it would be too confusing to try to wander off in other notes. However, he acknowledged that it sounded great when someone was able to harmonize well.

When he learned I played music, the man next to us strongly suggested that I buy a tin whistle and start learning a few tunes and join in. I have to say, this idea is very appealing to me, and I think it won’t be long before I will be hanging on every note, trying to follow along and add to the lovely din.


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    kimmykokonut said,

    Sounds like a really fun night! Authentic Irish jam sessions. I hope you buy a tin whistle and toot along with them. I agree, I would have imagined all old cranky men with fiddles. In my imaginary world, Ireland is full of old men in cute hats and there are no young people. Oh, and faeries. Lots of faeries. Are you looking for them?

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