What a busy week this has been! St Patrick’s Day in Canberra Australia (17 March) saw Full Circle playing at PJ O’Reilly’s Irish pub in Civic.

St Patrick's Day 2009

We set up and played our first set then an Irish dance school came in and performed, and we took it in turns – whenever we took a break, the dancers were on, and the crowd loved it.

St Patrick's Day 2009

When we finished the three brackets we had only a few minutes to pack the sound gear away and head off to Kingston where we played at Filthy McFadden’s Irish pub – if PJ’s was good, Filthy’s rocked.

St Patrick's Day 2009

We introduced a few new tune sets, including Paddy Fahy’s #14 and Dinky Dorrian’s which I’ve wanted to play for ages. And for Dinky’s reel I made full use of the new long lead to head for the dance floor out among the audience – and they loved it. Suddenly I was surrounded by mobile phones! All frantically taking photos!

St Patrick's Day 2009

We met some great people and had two great shows – although the voice was a bit hoarse and the fingers a bit tender after six hours of playing and jumping around. Music sure keeps you fit!


Now this is some awesome guitar – from a concert in Holland!


The cold and rainy weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of the 70 or so who came to a birthday party organised at Bungendore Showgrounds. For Full Circle Band, it was initially meant to be an outdoor show, however there was a contingency plan – two large sheds that opened onto each other – one for the banquet, and one for dancing.

But with no sign of people moving to the dance shed, we grabbed our instruments and moved into the banquet shed and played acoustically to the great delight of the audience. We got them singing sea shanties and played tunes and sang about rural life in Australia – we included several numbers from our forthcoming CD.

Full Circle Band

The atmosphere was great – a shearing-shed ambience with some coloured spotlights, great food, and big hearted people. The birthday lad is one of Bungendore’s top woodworkers/designers – and for those who know the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery – that’s saying something! The show demonstrated the country community spirit and family bonds, and everyone had a wonderful time – including ourselves!

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 πŸ™‚


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


1:00AM somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, just after crossing the Dateline at about 33,000 feet I put the pochette fiddle through its paces – with a mute. The aircraft – a Boeing 747-700 had plenty of room in the door bay by the galley for a few quiet tunes. I had no problems using the short ΒΌ size bow – even for slow airs. And the mute was very effective in ensuring the sound didn’t get over the ambient sound of the engines.

pochette fiddle on aircraft

The flight attendant was concerned that it may be noisy as the other passengers were asleep, but after the first few notes those concerns were quickly allayed. Perhaps this is the first ‘mile-high’ pochette? Maybe this will be the start of a new movement – let’s see how many unusual places become pochette fiddle moments πŸ™‚

The only difficulty I had was actually getting the thing back in my backpack afterwards – I dislodged the bridge and the sound-post fell over. It took me the best part of 45 minutes to re-seat it. Luckily the two sound holes were just big enough to get two fingers in to manipulate the sound-post. For future design modification I would enlarge these holes a little – my left index finger was rubbed raw. The alternative would be to provide struts like inside a mandolin, but the sound-post I think works better to carry the sound through to the back plate for extra volume.

Also, if I narrowed the body a little I could fit it inside a PVC tube thus ensuring there would be no knocking against the bridge.

With the scroll removed the overall fiddle length is now down to 22cm which just brings it within the international standard for a carry-on bag without sacrificing playable string length or the traditional placement of the tuning pegs.

At no time did I have any difficulty with Australian or US security checks on the bag – even with the tip of the fiddle poking out of the top of the bag.

This Irish tune is driving me nuts – but it’s the next one on my list to learn after Paddy Ryan’s Dream which I’ve nearly learnt.

Last week it was the Fleur de Mandragore – a great tune that I heard at the National Folk Festival this year. I’m still having trouble with Tommy’s Tarbukas – but I’m getting there on that one too πŸ™‚