Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Greenbriar, November 22, 2010, Brighton, Massachusetts

The Greenbriar

     I have had an Irish music blog in mind for some time now, and this photo inspired me to get it started. My love for the Irish Traditional Music world - the music and the people - is just too big, too important not to document.
     This image, taken in very low light with my G9 - shot at a 30/sec @ f2.8 with an ISO of 1600 - is not that great, technically, but I love it. I only took one shot, figuring it was a lost cause, which kind of makes the image even more precious. I mean, there was hardly anything on the screen - I had to pull this image back from practically nothing. I don't even mind the grain, being the old Tri-X junkie that I am.
     Above on the right, we have Larry Reynolds, patriarch of the famous Boston Irish music family - "Boston Irish music royalty," as was described to me by a young session friend. I have met Larry, Jr., the talented and affable box-player, a couple of times at Paddy Barry's in Quincy (seisun now defunct - but Paddy's, being the pub where I was introduced to the Irish seisun, will always hold a dear place in my heart), as well as another son,  Mike, also a talented box-player who was leading this Greenbriar session the first (and only other) time I attended, last January. The two players to Larry's right, I don't know their names, but I know they're regulars. In fact, that little corner could be called the inner sanctum of the Greenbriar session. The gentleman on camera left sang, a capella, a poignant tribute to John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the anniversary of whose death it was on that day.
     I rarely have the opportunity to attend this session at the Greenbriar, since I am almost always on the island on Monday nights, but this week I was on vacation - partly due to having been called for jury duty on Monday morning in Dedham (from which I was excused, thank goodness) - so, even though I was exhausted from a couple of late nights in a row over the weekend and didn't think I would make it - I did get over there. It's amazing, how the music and the people and the energy of a session all have the power to revive a weary body, mind, and soul, as I managed to have a total blast, as well as practically close the place down, leaving at close to midnight (of course, let's not talk about my Tuesday). I was very glad to have made the effort, because I knew I would regret blowing one of the few chances I have had, and will have again for a long time to come, to get to The Greenbriar.
    One of the things I love the most, now that I've been on this scene for eleven whole months (my first seisiun at Paddy's will be the subject of another post, I'm sure), is walking in to any session, anywhere in the city, and seeing people I know. On this Monday night, starting with the slow session, I saw Rosanne (guitar and whistle, from Tommy Doyle's), and shortly thereafter, in walked Bob Brogan (old Vineyard fiddler friend - have known him since the 70s when he was crewing aboard the Shenandoah), and eventually Liam (flute, guitar, and singer, whom I met initially at The Banshee in Dorchester, currently from Tommy Doyle's, and in whose circle I now find myself - an amazingly talented fellow; large in every sense of the word) turned up; Alexandra (fiddler from Tommy's - she's amazing; she knows every tune and if she doesn't, she seems to learn them on-the-fly) was there (and it was she and Bob Brogan who were going head to head when I was walking out the door) and there was a fellow, Mike Murphy (mando), whom I met at Eric's birthday party last weekend. Oh, and a treasure of the evening was the opportunity to sit - not once, but twice; at both the slow session and the regular session - next to Brian Henry's (from Paddy's - have not seen him in months - so great to see him again!) grandfather Frank, age 90 or so, from Ireland, who loves the music and always manages to belt out a few songs during the course of the evening, enrapturing all within hearing distance. And the people I didn't know before I got there were certainly warm and welcoming, encouraging me to return. That's what I love as much as the music, to tell you the truth: this wonderful feeling of family; of community, of belonging to something much bigger and older than myself, as profoundly meaningful as any religious service I have ever attended - more so, actually - and I've been to a few.  

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