Irish music session: come to the pub, online

In Ireland, the pub is often the living room of the community, or the neighborhood, a place where friends come to talk over the happenings of the day, where families gather to catch up, where travelers and visitors are welcomed. It is also quite often a place where stories are told, and music is shared.

cf session copyright Kerry DexterThe sharing of music at the pub is in some ways an extension of playing music in the living room and around the kitchen table at home. Pub sessions have their etiquette, it’s true, and some might say they have their rules, but these are more to keep the music flowing as part of the conversation than to make things stiff and formal. It is a lively night when you get to hear good music in a session.

Things are likely to be lively come the evening of 8th October, and not just in Sligo, where the band Dervish is playing a pub session on their home ground, in a sort of run up to their big twenty first anniversary celebration concert at the Sligo Live festival later in the month. At the session on the 8th, Dervish plans to play their favorite tunes and songs from across their two decade range of work, and to have good craic (fun and conversation, is what that word stands for, roughly, in Irish). As it turns out, you could be part of all that.

Dervish will be broadcasting the session over the internet. To finance this, they are asking a small charge — about what you’d pay for a pint, were you at the pub itself — and in return you’ll get to sit in on the session, send messages to the band in real time, and send messages to other viewers as well.

The six musicians who make up Dervish have, together and separately, won just about every award there is in Irish music. They have played at festivals ranging from Rock in Rio to Celtic Connections in Glasgow, and there are even Dervish cover bands in Russia and Japan.

It is to their home ground in the west of Ireland that they love to return, however, and on the night you will hear the six members of the band play reels, jigs, hornpipes, and songs from across their history, along with, perhaps, material you’ve not heard before. In addition to music from Irish tradition, the band have made their mark with songs including Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves, first made famous by Cher, and with Bob Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather. In Dervish’s versions, both of these fit right in with Irish trad, and lead singer Cathy Jordan has often been voted one of Ireland’s favorite singers.

In preparation for the web cast, band members have been making short film segments about their backgrounds and where they come from, which will also be included in the program. As is often the case with sessions, surprise musical guests may put in appearances as well.

The online web session begins at 11pm Irish time on the 8th of October (6pm US east coast time), and will run until 1am (8 pm US east coast time). To learn more or to book a reservation, there is information at the band’s web site, and at

photograph of Dervish, lower right, courtesy of the band
photograph of pub session, upper left, copyright Kerry Dexter

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