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McWhorley's - Riffs and Licks
steelbrassnwood
steelbrassnwood
McWhorley's
Now that Dennis Hastert thinks it's a cool place to go, isn't it time that all decent New Yorkers gave up on McSorley's? Between the lines, the crowds, and the drunken tourists, it's certainly no longer the Wonderful Saloon of Joseph Mitchell's time. And now we see that the staff doesn't even have the guts to throw a pig like Hastert into the gutter where he belongs.

But at least the photo is pretty amusing. Neither of the sorry fools can draw a decent pint, but at least Hastert looks like he's getting into the McSorley's spirit -- which is to say, shitfaced. Pataki, meanwhile, seems to think he's still onstage at the Madison Garden of Squares. In Mitchell's day, both of these guys would have been rolled for their money and left in an alley somewhere.

Meanwhile, I spent last night at a good Irish bar: Rocky Sullivan's, where Jello Biafra made a surprise appearance and closed out the evening with a 40-minute rant on Bush, corporatism and individual activism. Satire For Sanity is there every night this week.

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regyt From: regyt Date: September 1st, 2004 06:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Mmmmmmm, Irish bars. Know any around here that consistently have good live Irish music? I'm not much of a drinker, but live celtic music is a happy place for me.
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: September 1st, 2004 06:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I know there are some good ones in Sunnyside, and I'm sure there are some in Bay Ridge, but I don't go to a lot of Irish sessions because they're very exacting. You can't play unless you know the tune cold, and for the most part improvisation is mightily frowned upon. I haven't studied enough Irish tunes, and I find it pretty difficult to keep playing a melody note-for-note without messing with it (or worse yet syncopating it).

Now, bluegrass/old-time/traditional country jams are everywhere, especially in Brooklyn. And bluegrass/old-time is in many ways just Irish music that moved across the water to find work. And of course there's been lots of intermarrying since.

Off the top of my head:

  • Wednesday night jam at The Baggott Inn in the Village
  • First Thursday of every month at Freddy's in Brooklyn (6th Ave and Dean St)
  • Sunday brunch at City Lighting on Flatbush and Prospect, as well as every other Sunday at Superfine in Dumbo
  • Sunday afternoon jam at Jack's, 5th Ave and 13th St in Brooklyn (great fried chicken)
  • Every Monday night at the Parkside on Houston and Attorney

Rocky Sullivan's has good music but it's not usually traditional. Seanachie plays there every Friday night; they're basically Irish hip-hop/punk, sort of a stripped-down Black 47. Chris Byrne, owner of Rocky's and founder of Seanachie, is an alumnus of that band. I suspect that Paddy Reilly's (2nd and 29th) has traditional music nights, but I don't know when they are.
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: September 1st, 2004 07:03 am (UTC) (Link)
My internal copy editor hastens to point out that Chris Byrne's band is "Seanchai." I must have been thinking of the record label when I spelled it "Seanachie," although even they completely anglicized it and spelled it "Shanachie."
bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: September 1st, 2004 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Republican Airheads Fail to Tap Common Touch

Yes, McSorley's has become a hive of frat boys, tourists, and Wall Street greasers; the only thing that could've lowered the tone of the place was the runoff from the Republican National Convention. To quote Larry Kirwan, I bid the bar a Slan agus beannacht.
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: September 1st, 2004 06:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Republican Airheads Fail to Tap Common Touch

Ha -- come to think of it, those glasses of foam are pretty apt metaphors, aren't they?
bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: September 1st, 2004 06:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Republican Airheads Fail to Tap Common Touch

It struck me so. And, of course, I was actually quoting Chris Byrne, who wrote "Walk All the Days." (Kirwan wrote everything else on Green Suede Shoes.)
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: September 1st, 2004 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Republican Airheads Fail to Tap Common Touch

I thought of that, but decided not to be pedantic. Speaking of Chris Byrne -- who was behind the bar busting a gut during Will Durst's impressions last night -- Seanchai plays at Rocky's every Friday. We should check it out. They did a short opening set last night, just Chris, Rachel on vocals and turntable, and electric guitar.
bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: September 1st, 2004 07:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Republican Airheads Fail to Tap Common Touch

Yeah, I have their one album, Paddy A Go Go, courtesy of Bill Mason, who's friends with Chris. I'd certainly be up for seeing them.

In answer to the question about traditional Irish venues, there's Connolly's Pub on West 45th in Manhattan (the reconfigured Black 47 plays there often, but they also have plenty of bands straight from the bog). There used to be a number of venues in Flatbush and Bay Ridge for traditional music, but I'm out of touch with the bar scene now.
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