Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Littlest Bar, Saturday Night

The Littlest Bar, Boston, Brendan Bulger

I love a Saturday night out downtown. It's always so festive, a mood that hits me the minute I step onto the C-Line train, with young people in abundance, either traveling in groups - laughing, the way they do - or couples, forced up close to each other, which is handy for flirting and smooching; everyone all dressed up (how do girls these days walk in those shoes!) and out for a night of fun and frivolity. I think the median age on the train last night must have been twenty-five.

There's something so free-wheeling about walking out my door, fiddle in hand, and simply hopping onto the T. I don't even have to take my back-pack off to swipe my card - since it's in the outer-most pocket all I have to do is lean my back onto the sensor, and I'm in. And since I decided to travel light tonight - no bouzouki - there was an extra spring in my step. When I think about my years with all those kids, cats, dogs, and parakeets - ha! I love this!

And I do love that walk from Park Street to the bar. While it's not exactly unsafe, there is something a bit edgy about it. And on some level, while walking through the dark canyons of downtown Boston with my fiddle, I am thinking about my father, walking the streets of Manhattan all those years ago with his violin. Some things, we just can't escape (and why would we want to)?

The Littlest Bar, down on Broad Street, within sight of Rowe's Wharf and around the corner from the old Customs House, is a delight. Typically, the little corner inside where the session is held is jam-packed with players, but last night there were only four of us (as close to my previously described childhood kitchen table as I've seen): Brendan Bulger - an amazing fiddler of some reknown, whose session this is - a guitarist from Davis Square by the name of Jeremy, a flute player (and fire-fighter from Norwood) named Joe, and Yours Truly. It was an honor and a privilege to be among this fine ensemble. Brendan was most polite and accommodating - without being condescending - and even bought a round in honor of my new grandson. I've said it before - I love the rollicking, full-throttle session, but the opportunity to be a part of this foursome in a non-pressurized setting, with time to get to know each other a bit - it was all delightful. And to think that I am now able to pretty much hold my own on a fair number of tunes and am able, some of the time, anyway, to play along with such high caliber musicians as these; well, all I can say is, there is a precise moment - and it happens at every session - when I am sailing along into my first tune of the evening, settling in to the heart of the music - it's a moment that can only be compared - I would imagine - to the way a drug addict feels the instant he feels the effects of the drug in his vein, as in,""

A funny part of the evening was when Brendan got up to greet a drop-dead gorgeous woman who had walked over from the bar, seeking him out. It crossed my mind, "I wonder if Brendan's wife minds his being pestered by beautiful women in the bar..." and then I found out it was his wife. Lovely.

Another great moment was Brendan's borrowing - and loving - my bow. I'll never wash my hands again.

As usual, the video is a rather dark offering, which I don't mind - I even kind of like the style, and especially appreciate its being a tool for learning the music. But I really look forward to that 5DMKII that is looming closer and closer.

It figures that they would play something I know - the second tune, The Kesh Jig - while I was strapped to the camera.

The Littlest Bar, Boston, Brendan Bulger


  1. Thanks for the stories and photos, just fell into your blog via google while planning a visit to tonight's Littlest. Cheers!

  2. Oh dear, I hope you weren't hurt :-)
    Thanks, Emily, I may see you there.
    PS - that's some fine concertina-playing!

  3. Nice meeting you, Sara!