May 2008

After stepping off the plane in the morning back in Australia, my band had a gig that night at the Merry Muse Folk Club in Canberra, Australia. My body was telling me it was 07.00AM and I hadn’t slept all night, despite it being 9.00PM in Canberra. But it was a good crowd and we fired well off each other to make a good show. The audience was larger than usual and the evening had a really good feel to it. We were supported by vocal harmony group Humbug.

Full Circle Band at the Merry Muse Folk Club, Canberra

We played a great version of Farewell to Chernobyl and Trip to Pakistan – good Celtic tunes – and the folk club was nearly full – quite a contrast to some previous occasions.

It’s good to be home again after a fairly hectic two weeks away in Canada and USA, but it was also great to play in some wonderful sessions overseas.


After a great welcome at Brendan Mulvihill’s session on Monday I was recommended to try the Tuesday session at McGinty’s Pub - 911 Ellsworth Street Silver Spring. And I wasn’t disappointed. The place is easy to reach on the red metro line and the session runs from about 8.30pm.

McGinty's pub, Washington DC

The pub has Guinness on tap and about 18 other beers if Guinness is not to your taste. The session was in an alcove room around a long table – very close and intimate and away from the distractions of TV and much pf the pub noise.

McGinty's session

Again I was welcomed and introduced around, and there was a lot of curiosity about my pochette fiddle when I pulled it out from the backpack. Some tried to describe it as a cigar box fiddle, but I guess they hadn’t seen the real thing – my pochette is more shaped and has a sculpted belly, unlike the cigar box fiddles. Many commented on the surprising amount of volume I could get out of the instrument.

I’d had dinner at Romano’s Macaroni Grill and welcomed washing my food down with a pint of the good stuff at McGinty’s.

I knew about half of the tunes played and was pleased that they welcomed my starting a couple of tunes – some of which they didn’t know.

And all up I had a great time and even managed to navigate back to the metro station in time to catch the train back to Faragut about three blocks from my hotel. Once again, many thanks for the warm welcome – would that all sessions were as open as the ones I found on my travels this time :-)


Last night saw me at a great session in Washington DC at Nanny O’Brien’s Pub on 3319 Connecticut Avenue NW. The session started at 9.00pm and there was a good mix of tunes I knew and new tunes to learn. They were warm and welcoming and the session leader, internationally renowned Brendan Mulvihill is a real gem – and he sure can play! His warm welcome and handshake showed him to be a true Limerick gentleman.

Session at Nanny O'Brien's pub in Washington DC

Again there was lots of curiosity about my pochette fiddle – playing the sessions is certainly a great way to meet people – and several recommended that I came along tonight to the McGinty’s pub – so, yes I’ll be there. Rob, one of the musicians even offered to bring along a spare violin as he found my pochette a little quiet at the session. And at the end of the evening I was given a lift back to the hotel.

At the end of the session I stopped and chatted with Brendan Mulvihill about Australia, the fiddle, the craic and Irish music – and I’ve told him the tea kettle’s always on if he should ever visit Canberra. Truly a great night


The roadworks doesn’t make the Daniel O’Connell pub (at 1211 Wellington St Downtown Ottawa,Canada) easy to find, and when you do, it looks like an average punters pub. But don’t let appearances deceive – this is not your trendy boutique brewery, but the genuine article. And Thursday night saw me heading down at about 8.30pm to find a seat. And the place was almost empty – until 9.00pm when one by one people came in – mostly fiddlers with a couple of squeeze boxes, flutes, and a mandolin for good measure, and a couple of bodhran players. One of the latter had a couple of fine tuneable bodhrans with lovely tone – and he wasn’t a bad player himself.

Celtic session at Daniel O'Connell's pub, Ottawa

I was introduced around to all the musicians as they arrived and was told that another Aussie had stopped by last week – from Sydney – did I know him? His name was Tom… I laughed and said “no, but I know his cousin who lives in Perth!”

They were another very friendly bunch – and very welcoming of visiting musicians. I was warned this was a louder session than Monday night’s one but again the pochette could be heard clearly. I missed not having a shoulder rest though – something to think about for the next one.

Despite the relaxed demeanour of the musicians – there was little relaxed about the music which was good and lively. By 10.00pm the pub was packed and people were clapping and replenishing our Guinness supplies. We sang a few songs, but it was mostly again the older traditional tunes – so I was well up with most of the repertoire. I sang “the Parting Glass” as a toast to the group and they seemed to appreciate it.

Celtic music session at Daniel O'Connell's pub, Ottawa

There was a particularly fine Cape Breton fiddler there, but there was a good range of players from relative beginners to some very professional sounding players.

It was a great night and we finished up around midnight. Again may thanks to the Ottawan folkies for making me feel welcome in their session.


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