Well, what a night! For so many reasons. I have been living in NYC for nearly 8 years. I moved here for the vital trad music scene. For a number of reasons I have never gone out to play St. Patty’s. My favorite thing about a sessiun the intimacy with other players, playing for and with each other. If I have to strain to hear the other players, well most of the joy is taken out of it.
But I had a opportunity to play with Deirdre Corrigan, a flute player that I used to play with at Fiddlesticks that happy summer when I had first met Dermot Grogan. Dermot and Deirdre had been close friends. I knew playing with her would bring Dermot back a bit for me. By the end of the night I was imagining him sitting next to me, being his usual enouraging self.
It was a first in another way. I have never played amplified before! Always shy about having the bodhran dominate a sessiun I’ve hesitated to mic myself. But midway through the night Deirdre and River we’re both asking me to get mic’ed! Can’t say how great that felt… it felt even better – when after being mic’ed – they both asked me to stay that way! In a world where the answer to the question, “What is the best way to play a bodhran?” is “With a pen knife,” this constitutes a gesture of goodwill and an acknowledgement that you do not in fact, suck – inspite of all the bad press bodhran players, often very deservedly, encounter.
I also got paid for the first time for playing bodhran! Totally unexpected! So gracious! I hesitate to mention it because maybe it solidifies the impression that I’m a downright rube but, getting paid for doing something I love this much seems not wrong — so much as very strange.
Fionn Ó Lochlainn showed up late looking every bit the rambler in his John Bull Topper. I’ve only played with him a few times. He reminds me so much of a very good friend of mine I end up staring at him. He’s a very sweet and supportive player.
River Alexander of the Mad Jazz Hatters was there as well. So much fun playing with him as he has a terrific range of musical sensibilities and communicates so well his intention when taking the lead. I -can’t wait- to go see him doing his thing.
So when we wrapped up we headed over to Cleopatra’s Needle for a late-night throwdown. Sinking into the brain-cleansing rythym, I realized that eight long years ago I ventured out shortly after arriving and headed straight to the first jazz session I could find. The first live music I saw in NYC was at Cleopatra’s Needle!
I sunk into my seat in a state of pure bliss. This is where I come from. My dad played jazz in the house all the time. I didn’t even hear irish trad until I was well over 25 years old! I get in trouble in irish sessions with some of the more hard core trad people for syncopating innapproriately…I catch myself bebopping when I should be de diddly duming…some players dig it, a few do not.
It was a St. Pat’s I’ll never forget. Thank you, Dive Bar players.