Musicians makes the difference

You know a lot of times we are in a pub or restaurant with a hard working musician giving their all in the background and we hardly know it. It’s not because they are not giving it their all, it is not because they are not talented, it is because we are busy, caught up in our everyday mentality. We need to take a bit of time and give these musicians a bit of love and recognition. Because in the end we really do like some good live music, it makes our time out really special. What can be better than a soulful song, good friends, good food, and good libation………. nothing… my humble opinion.

musicians work for tips

a tip can make the difference to a talented musician, or a not so talented musician for that matter.

What does it take to throw a dollar or two into a tip jar?

Not much.

What does that do to that hard working musician?

Well it keeps them going, helps them stay positive, helps them believe that they are appreciated, and maybe it helps keeping good honest music alive in this world, not such a bad thing.

My wife teases me, but I am proud of the fact that I ran across the steet to throw a couple of dollars into a tip jar of a girl singing at an Old Orchard Beach bar. She was awesome, she was old school, she was unafraid, she deserved to be told she was good. I only wish I was there for the whole show.

Buskers giving it their all on the street, some are good, some are bad, and some are tremendous. When you find tremendous throw some dough their way, they may just need that justification to take it to the next level.

Who are these Buskers? Well in times gone by- you might have heard- Luke Kelly, Jim McCann, Paddy Reilly, or some unknown phenomonal superstar singing the best version of Raglan Road you ever heard (Damien Dempsey). Why can’t we throw a bit of money at them? help them out a bit? Do we have to wait till they are filling the concert halls and charging $ 60.00 a pop?

The next time you hear a young artist groping their way through a set, an unknown artist belting a great tune, or a seasoned folkster not giving in to the commercial way of doing things, show them some love, and keep them playing, we all make out better.


A nice Irish tune

I just needed a good Irish tune, where else to find one than the Catskills Irish Arts festival.

And in the famous words of Joe Perry (Aerosmith) I’ll

Nice Irish tune


“let the music do the Talking”




September 11 2015, a short memory

September 11 2015

Survivors of Septemper 11,








Do you remember? Have you forgotten? Do you know the enemy and what is in their make up and their goal? Well let us reflect.

The Enemy, are you afraid to call them by their name? On September 11 they were Radical Islamist muslim fanatics who’s goal was/is to convert all, to their version of Islam.  Then Al Qaeda now Isis, And the really scary news is that presently the current occupant of the whitehouse  is removing sanctions from the largest state sponsored terrorist country in the world and allowing them the means to deliver a nuclear bomb, but hey what’s the biggie michelle might be the next Jackie O.

The enemy recruited human beings to commit suicide and murder 3000 civilians on that fateful day.

This enemy slaughters their own population if they do not commit fully to their cause.

This enemy kills children if they are Christian, like so many stateists in the past that we are suppose to re write history for.

How is one to counter the Barberism that is Radical Islam, and counter the enabling Muslim religion.


Remember 2001, Remember Todd Beamer, Remember the planes, Remember the jumps, Remember the apologists, Remember the responders.

So here 14 years later on September 11 2015 we sit fat and happy thinking our government will do what is right, well fat chance.

Today the president seeks approval of a treaty to release Iran from sanctions, allow their nuclear program to go forward and unfreeze up to 150 billion dollars to this terrorist sponsor. Without Congressional support! How? He calls it an agreement not a treaty, he has manipulated and castrated the Constitution once again. So maybe it is time to


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article I (Article 1 – Legislative)

Section 1

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Maybe we should all take a look at our Constitution it shows when Tyrants are in charge, and Make no mistake Obama is a classic Tyrant. If only the Congress would open their eyes instead of holding their breath hoping World war three won’t start before the next election.


Remember the good.

Glen Doherty, Ty Woods, Chris Stephens, Sean Smith. Read their story here. The story of the Benghazi Heroes 

Remember the bad.

Bin Laden, Saddam Husein, ISIS, The Ayatollahs,

Remember the ugly.

Clinton lies about Benghazi. obama undermines the US Constitution. obama fans the fires of racial divide. obama described the muslim call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.” And now obama aids Iran in acquiring the BOMB.

The sad part is the founders of this nation anticipated tin pot dictators like obama would rise to power on occasion and put in provisions so that Congress could limit their power. It is time we said enough. I don’t want a nanny state government that is more concerned with aiding our enemies than it is with upholding our founding principles.

We voted them out in the Senate

We voted them out in the house

Please God let us make it to the election in 2016 so we might be able to repair the damage done.

I don’t wish the freedoms given to us by our founding fathers and the founding documents end up being a Memory

Irish session snobs?

Irish session

So you made the decision to pick up a Bodhran or fiddle or flute and learn some good Irish tunes. Good for you. You have spent some time and enjoyed the playing, maybe had a lesson or two and now want to join the fun of an Irish session. Good for you. The Irish session is the place to join other traditional Irish musicians in the playing of good Irish music. But you seem to be getting a weird vibe from the Irish session players, they seem a bit, well, snobby.

Well the truth of the matter is that besides being willing to learn the nice Irish music you need to know the hierarchy of the session.


Yes there is a hierarchy, a set of levels, a bit of educated listening that comes with the Irish session. I like to describe it this way……………………

You and four of your friends want to play some basketball, you have all played with each other, you have all played with other good players, you all have learned to dribble the ball, set pics, pass the ball, some are excellent outside shooters, some are good around the hoop, some rebound well. You all learned these skills in camps, you played in developmental leagues, you accumulated skills from pee wee to grade school to intramural leagues. In the end you find your level where you can play with others and Enjoy the game.

Irish session like basketball

Now imagine you go to a pick up game of hoop where you play against 5 good players, your team consists of 2 other good players and 2 unknown players. These two unknown players have just learned to play basketball, they don’t dribble well, they can’t play at the speed of the other players and are kind of useless on the court. The game is a one sided slaughter, the experienced players are frustrated and a bit put off. The inexperienced players can’t figure out why they are being looked down on, I mean they tried hard, they gave it their all, they think they did ok, they just didn’t know that this basketball hour was for former college level players. They really just wasted time for people. If however they had found a beginner league they would have done better, their skills could have room to grow, they could go on intermediate levels, and with enough skills maybe sit in with the expert leagues for a play or two.

The Irish session is similar, know your level. Know the rules

If you find yourself in an advanced level (good players) do not panic!

You have a great opportunity to learn. Listen to the tunes, train your ear you are listening to the tunes played well. You will also hear tunes that you do not know, when there is a lull ask what the tune is so you can play it. You do have an advantage in music over basketball, you can play along softly. This means that you can try to keep up with the more advanced player but it will not intrude on the game er session.

Beginner sessions will have advanced players in them. Many advanced players will sit in on beginner sessions to help beginners improve. They all played in them, most remember some nice whistle or fiddler showing them a thing or two. They want you to progress, learn, enjoy, love, revel, in the music it is a fellowship, a brother/sister hood that they wish to expand.

So the next time you find yourself in an Irish session and it feels a bit snobby you may just need to consider what level that session is, and learn, and enjoy the Irish music played well.



Irish dogs, and a ditty.

Ireland has not named one dog or another as the national dog of Ireland but their are plenty of Irish dogs that could lay claim to that title.

Irish dogs

The largest breed is of course the Irish Wolfhound. This breed of dog is given credit for ridding Ireland of wolves. Though imposing, this Irish dog belies a great gentleness and loyal character. it is no wonder he is an iconic symbol of Ireland. Along with the round tower and  the harp, the Irish Wolfhound  make up the mark found on every piece of Belleek China, iconic indeed.

Irish dogs

The breed of Irish dog owned by Michael Collins would be the Irish Blue terrier sometimes referred to as a Kerry Blue terrier. This sturdy energetic and fierce dog with it’s distinctive beard and blueish black coloring was the perfect dog for ferreting out vermin in the barns and fields of Ireland, hunting small game, or protecting the homestead. By all accounts The Kerry Blue is the National dog of Ireland.

Now one would only have to visit an Irish field full of sheep to understand that there are Irish dogs of non – Irish blood that have become iconic dogs of Ireland. The sheep dogs, more specifically the border collie. Border collies are the energizer bunnies of the working dog class. Competitions are held and farmers and herders put on a display of their dogs skill. The dogs manage to herd their quarry into pens while receiving orders via whistles from their owners. It’s amazing to watch.

There are nine native breeds of Irish dogs from Ireland, four Terriers, two Hounds and three Gundogs.

Irish Dogs;

  1. Irish Terrier,
  2. Soft Coated Wheaten Irish Terrier,
  3. Irish Blue Terrier Kerry Blue
  4. Glen of Imaal Terrier,
  5. Kerry Beagle,
  6. Irish Wolf Hound,
  7. Irish Setter
  8. Irish Red & White Setter
  9. Irish Water Spaniel)

All of which believe they lay some claim to the title of #1 dog of Irish dogs

Now  I believe the most beloved dog of Ireland is whichever dog greets you at the door, be it setter or hound, wheaton or blue, spaniel or beagle, mutt or mongrel. And it is to this end I’ll leave you with this little ditty about yours truly Irish dog, of American descent.

Irish dog

My dogs a terrier not that bright
He just won’t learn as some dogs might
But he’s a good dog with a bark not a bite

You pet him on his sturdy head
He’ll roll on his back as if he’s dead
But really a belly rub is his aim
And really who doesn’t, he’s not to blame

But in the end he’s a good companion
Chasing squirrels with reckless abandon
His name is Mickey we call him Mic
And when we walk it’s no great trick
He’s not so smart but we’d have no other
just one dumb mic being walked by another





Loretta Lynn ageless singer puts on great show.

When the talk turns to singing, talent or passion, I almost always choose passion. last night I had the privilege to see and hear the great Loretta Lynn sing in a cozy little venue in Cohassett Ma. and It was tremendous.

loretta Lynn

Now you would think the accomplishment for the 83, yes, 83 year old Lynn would be to show up for the show never mind sing hit after hit for an hour, but sing hit after hit she did, and sing well, as well.

And the band! They of course were great musicians and singers, playing great country riffs and steel guitar slides and supporting background vocals, but they also looked out musically for her. If there might be a note she might falter on or a chorus that might be hard to reach the boys would slide on in and lift her up just a touch, there was a lot of love and respect and humor in that collection of musical heroes.

On an occassion an audience member would yell out “We love you Loretta” which would always get a response of ” I Love you too darling” or “sweetheart” like you were talking across the kitchen table to your favorite family member. It was a joy to be there and with all things musical it is the joyful, the passionate, the uplifting, that makes for memories, good memories.

Now so you don’t get the idea that the above love of the show put on by Loretta and the gang appeals to to the mature crowd who can remember her in her younger days our 16 year old also attended the show. Now granted she is an unabashed lover of country music but her opinions of the show were purely positive. I’ll try to give you the condensed version. She was happily surprised with the tone and power of her voice, to quote

 “I kind of expected her to be unable to hit notes but she sounded  great.” ” She sang really well and sang all her hit songs, she was amazing.”

Amazing she was, and down to earth, and a classy lady all night long. I feel fortunate to have seen this woman sing her songs and I hope she’s doing them when she’s 93.


2015 Sligo Fleadh has another O’Shea competitor.

sligo fleadh 2015Sorry for the long gap between posts but have been waiting to hear about the newest O’Shea to compete at the all Ireland Fleadh held this year in Sligo. It is with great pleasure that one Betty O’Shea of Enniskerry County Wicklow was entered in the tin whistle competition for the U 12 division.

I hope James and Karina don’t mind if I post their response to how things were going at the Fleadh but I think it shows the great time to be had and the hard work put in by all competitors.


Hi Brian and Caroline and family!

We all had a great time in Sligo camping at Strandhill campsite for the week and wandering around seeing great music all over the place in Sligo town, as you’d imagine. It was capped off by Nana and Granda (Jim and Teresa Halley) driving up from Dublin on the Friday and Betty’s u12 tin whistle competition on Saturday morning. She did a great job, and it was really impressive competition, including all the Boston folks! (I didn’t get a chance to talk to them, as I would have liked, but we really enjoyed seeing Jimmy Noonan from Boston play in an earlier big session — do you know him? He ended up tutoring for the week, and his son was in Betty’s competition.)

In the end the winners were 1. A boy from Waterford, 2. a boy from Cavan, and 3. a girl from Limerick — great players all around. Betty was very disappointed, but this morning she has come around again when Karina signed up to ‘TunePal’ online and Betty loved it (Caroline probably knows about TunePal — we learned of it at the Fleadh). And of course two more years for her to have a crack at the u12’s!

We went to “Fleadh TV” (channel “TG4”) a couple of times and were right in the front row, so we might get to see ourselves on TV when they show them again at some point. Especially Betty, when she and Karina had a “girls night on the town” on the final night while James and I had a boys night in the tent, and Betty was sitting on the edge of the stage for “Moxie”, “Beoga”, “Stockton’s Wing” (with some new young members, too), and others – so she might be on TV at some point (looking a little tired but excited!). Also had a great night seeing Liam Kelly and Philip Duffy in a small venue, up close.

Wish you guys were here for a visit! Hopefully we’ll see Carol at the end of November…. Keep in touch,
Jim and the gang (p.s. a picture, walking the streets of Sligo – sorry about the guy blowing his nose….):

Slogo Fleadh 2015

I don’t know Jim I think the fella blowing his nose in the background is a nice touch.

The U 12 competitor is the lovely lady on the right, being aptly supported by her younger brother James and the equally lovely proud mother Karina, (Dad’s taking the photo).

For anyone who has been to an All Ireland Fleadh you know that the towns population explode as the competition day nears, The sessions spring up in pubs, hotels, restaurants, and street corners. The younger competitors can attend the SCOIL EIGSE and be tutored in their musical expertise by Irish music masters. Later on these same masters will be found in the aforementioned sessions. To coin an Irish Phrase the music will be mighty, and a good time is had by all.

When I wrote to see if Betty had qualified for the Fleadh I was both extremely pleased and bitterly jealous that we were not able to attend on short notice, plans are being made now to attend the 2016 Fleadh Cheoil in Ennis, time to call in some favors no doubt.

So as I sign off here’s to the musicians young and old that keep the traditions alive and vibrant.










Real Irish music

Real Irish musicNow back to some real Irish music.

You have your choice and all are right as being “THE” authentic Irish music.

The Bard, The Rover, The Farmer. These were the carriers of the torch, the passer ons of the tradition of Irish music. The harp, the fiddle, a squeezebox, the pipes, later on a flute or whistle these were the tools of the early player.

                          Real Irish Music

They played music to dance by, jigs, reels, hornpipes, or songs for the soul in airs and slow airs. The music was passed down father to son, mother to daughter, learned by listening and reproducing the tunes. A legacy almost lost. Thankfully organizations like Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann organized and promoted the tradition of Irish music. Their work comes to fruition each year seen and is heard at classes, regional Fleadhs, culminating with the All Ireland Fleadh Ceoil each August.

Then there are the singers. Again there are old songs passed on from generation to generation, sung in the native tongue these are the old songs these are the “Seanos songs” most who think they know Irish songs have never heard Seanos. It is a beautiful at times haunting style sung in a particular way

Add to these traditions beautiful musical arts like lilting, whistling, and storytelling, and you might get a glimpse of real irish music. I have to laugh sometimes. I’ll be at a session with fantastic musicians going at it full tilt, when some expert on Irish music will wonder when they will start playing real Irish music. You know, when Irish eyes are smiling, Mother Macree, or Danny boy. Now thats a story thats already been written (Traditional Irish songs the best Irish songs)

Readers of this humble blog well know I am a sucker for Irish folk music. The legends of the resurgent folk gender of the sixties who revived and reshaped Irish folk will forever be real Irish music to me. Luke Kelly, Jim McCann, Tommy Makem, Paddy Reilly, giants all. But I’m sure if you asked them what real Irish music was they would go back to those traditions passed down from father to son, mother to daughter. As Pete ST. John so aptly wrote “raised on songs and stories”

Cheers, and check out a session near you.


Irish Country singer Grace O’Shea.

Nice video from an up and coming country singer, Grace O’Shea. The things you find on youtube are just fascinating. You never know if you are seeing the beginnings of the next Reba, Dolly, Loretta, or Taylor, but if passion, talent, and style play a role I think this girl may have a chance. Be it superstardom or picking the guitar by a bonfire I think this Country singer with the nice Irish name will be playing good music for a really long time.


Stepping into an Irish bar for a pint

I almost didn’t write this post as the title was so tempting. There is something special about stepping into an Irish bar for a pint that’s different than any other bar.

There may not be a better feeling of well being, a more heighten level of expectation, than to drop into a good Irish pub for a properly poured pint of Guinness. Even better during a crisp afternoon when the bar is less crowded and you are left at peace with your thoughts your dreams and your pint. Now there is a fine line between a pint or two and maybe a bit too much, and a not so fine line line of the daily dozen downing, but that being said, here’s a spot or two in Boston, the South Shore, or across the Atlantic where a pleasant drink can be had.

The Corrib in Brighton, best had at the bar, and yes this is what got me thinking as I had a lovely sandwich with my daughter there Sunday last with a beautiful pint of Guinness. reasonably priced as well.

Mr. Dooleys, Boston. a bit pricey, but a good pour and great atmosphere, again though it gets crowded at nigh,t but a satisfying  pint in the afternoon, makes life worth living. Some good music there as well.

The Green Dragon, Faneuil Hall, Boston. the famous meeting place of Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty, though rebuilt after a fire razed the original building, is a great place to strike a blow for freedom, and they pour a really good pint of Guinness, I especially like going in on slow summer afternoon days when that young acoustic singer is performing, real class.

The Eire Pub Dorchester.  Made famous by the greatest president of modern times Ronald Reagan who stopped in for a sipp with the locals, the Eire is an authentic neighborhood Irish bar that serves a great pint and the best sandwiches around.

Irish bar

The Eire Pub a great Irish bar.

Then there were the times in Ireland.

Glendalough, Wicklow, Ireland I suppose the scenery or the company would make stepping into an Irish bar more special. The Hotel lounge across from St. Kevins Church and Glendalough served a nice time. My family and cousins, having a cup of soup, a toasted sandwich or two, and I and my cousin making out like bandits with our two pints of plain

The Harbour Bar, Bray, Ireland. Go along the harbour walk around the little park, look out over the harbour and the ships moored each telling there own story. Watch the Swans as big as large dogs make there way into and out of the ripples, and then venture into the best hidden gem in Ireland. In the afternoon you’ll get to soak up the pub with it’s just old feel, Now That being said, the harbor bar also promotes new music, concerts, festivals, rock and roll extravaganzas, which is cool, but as a tourist I’ll take a slow afternoon and some of that black stuff.

Dublin favorites:

O’Donahues St. Stephens Green.

Neary’s Bar.

The Stags Head.

I suppose by this time all must think me a drunkard, we are all welcome to our opinions, as my father would would say ” You are all welcome to your opinion, just keep it to yourself”. Either way, when a beautiful sunny day beckons you in nothing makes you feel more alive than a pint and a toast to freedom,