War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

I would like to hear some stories told by those who indulge in playing for money on the annual St Patrick’s gig. Am I alone, doesn’t everyone want to tell how great or horrible it was? Best keep it on the humorous side if possible. My horribly funny tale is about playing for the Hibernian Society…….

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

Believe it or not, we couldn’t get a booking for St Paddy’s evening this year! We’ve got all the weekends, and a couple of weeknights, booked, but nobody booked us for Wed night the 17th!

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

I will never forget the time that I played in a band and we had four gigs on Paddy’s day. The third was in a GAA club in West Belfast. As we were coming to the end of our set a couple of girls started a row and before we had finished the song the entire club had erupted into a major riot. Almost 300 people beating the livin shit out of each other, and launching beer glasses round he roo.. We quietly packed up and escaped out of a back entrance. As we met the next band coming in we wished them well!!!!

Ahhh those were the days!

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

I’ve had many a horrible St Patrick’s night, but this year I’m playing with four good friends at a pub literally 100yards from my house, in return for a free meal and all we can drink (quite a lot!), and I’m cramming the place with friends from the village, so we get a good atmosphere without too much racket.
I don’t think we could do much better than that….

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

We played a gig on Paddy’s day in Turin, Italy in 1994. The event was organised by a mafioso character as it turned out who didn’t want to pay us afterwards. The fiddler, usually a gentle giant, leant on him a bit until he coughed up the lire. We had to beat a hasty exit though when 4 of his heavies came looking for us in the car park.

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

I almost hesitate to call mine a gig, per se, because most often it resembles a session up on a stage, only with mikes.
But I can’t help but toss it into the mix here, because I think it’s unique: It’s a party sponsored by the athletic department of a Boston-area college, held in the “zamboni room” at the campus skating/ice hockey rink. [A zamboni machine, for the uninitiated, is the contraption some feller drives out onto the ice between periods at hockey games to smooth over the rough spots.]
We don’t get paid, per se -- just all-you-can-eat cabbage, corned beef and soda bread plus Guinness and Harp on tap. The acoustics are not what you would call great, and most often we’re just providing background music for everyone’s conversation. But it’s a fun time, year in and year out.
Ironically, as a little kid I apparently was fascinated by the zamboni machine at the hockey games to which my father would take me. So now, years later, here I am churning out tunes in the very habitat of the creature itself.

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Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

I teach at a stepdancing school. March is our Hell Month, and classes are cancelled from the week of St. Patrick’s for a fortnight. We generally have at least two teams of dancers going the entire day. Since I now have a band, I have to try and cover all areas. This year on the day itself, we have a show in Longmont at 10 am, in Arvada at 12:30, in Boulder at 2, in Denver at 4:15, and a show that evening at 8. We are also currently negotiating another show possibly at 5, if we can dive out on the dance school show at 4:15 20 minutes earlier than previously planned, to go ’til 7. *sigh*

And this is the year that we swore we were going to take it easy…

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

Admit it, Zina. You’ll love every minute of it.

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

How about playing in a grocery store in suburban Chicago? Talk about surreal - at least I got paid!

Love the mafiosi story, Joe, that’s brilliant.

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

..after a heavy night and early mornings drinking, whilst staying with a friend in Kerry, I was woken at 7am by his loud and excitable children getting ready for the Pats Day parade ….whilst still tipsy the hangover hadnt yet started …yet..

at 9.30 am we were all gathered in the lovely village of Kilflynn to parade back and forth the 300 yards of the village playing Sean South from Garryowen ..over and over and over again ..in the bright spring sunshine …hangover had set in …big time !

after 45 mins circular marching and 1000s of bars of Sean south from Garryowen we went o the community centre to play for the dancers …not knowing any of the bizzare north Kerry polkas on my flute i decided to join in on my Bodhr

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

Every other year the Hibernian Society meets at an Italian lunch room in a nearby college town here in West Virginia. The owner found out we played Irish music and hired us for a go-round on St Pats day. The first year it started off well, but it was crowded, and everyone was eating as if starved (which I could tell from looking at them they weren’t) , then they went from drinking draught Guiness right out of the keg 20 plastic cups at a time, to wine and hard liquor. By the time you could get one of the Guinii it had gone off from wherever it had been before. They started getting rowdier and began jostling the musicians around (Inadvertantly) whereupon our lead fiddler without a word to us packed up his fiddle and disappeared for the rest of the night. So we began to sing some songs we knew, to try to get the crowd involved. Then the crowd decided they would sing too but they wanted to sing Irish eyes are Smiling, and Danny Boy. When they found we didn’t play those songs, (or sing them) I think they thought we were faking our Irish music, tunes of which only a few had ever heard before.

Next thing, our hostess, who was a local council woman distributed song sheets and they began singing to the top of there lungs. I pulled the guy with the money off to the side and made sure of getting paid and we immediately packed up and left.

Now you would think that was a one time thing but 2 years passed and they called us again for a repeat performance. They had doubled the size of the lunch room, but otherwise it was the same format and since they paid so well we went for another try.
We still wouldn’t do Danny Boy or MacNamarra’s Band. Just had some fun playing jigs, reels and hornpipes. They listened politely for a couple hours, but then the song sheets were brought out and we grabbed our money and left except a young fiddle player who decided to wait until the singing was done. Then she put out her hat, and collected another hundred bucks, playing all the requests she could, which was very little like Irish Trad. Mostly
OT tunes her father had taght her.

We played there a third time and for a wedding of the owner. But although they liked us (our music) I think they thought we weren’t authentic enough, and we didn’t get invited back.

This year the brewpub where we have our sessions has invited us to do a warmup performance for an oldtime string band that start after everyone is liquored up. Sounds good to me. We can play and still get out of there by 8-9pm.

Thanks for the stories. I really liked the one about Turin, Italy, a real Italian fiasco.

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

I also replied on the other question about St Pat’s sessions - a session is ok; in my experience as a non-specific British barn dance band muso you must have an authentic irishman at the mike or you’re dead, at least as far as audience response/appreciation goes. There is also an expectation of the popular country‘n’irish repertoire, and if you can’t sing all those old songs you got fed up with in the 60’s folk clubs as well it’s lead parachute time. “Fine Girl Y’are !” The rest of the year, with a very similar social group, you can be fine. On this particular night they think they know what they want, and if you can’t supply it, don’t take the gig. Maybe, the other side of the ditch, with more 2nd/3rd/4th generation it’s easier.
Far better go to a pub session and just play, in my humble opinion.

GP

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

We make it easy on ourselves. We refuse to sing at all, mainly because of stuff like this. If Beth comes along, sometimes she’ll be in the mood to do all the old songs, but if she’s not, we just play dumb -- “No, I’m afraid we don’t know The Fields of Athenry…”

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

I’ve always had a blast on St. Paddy’s day. It’s been a huge payday, better than weddings. The best money is outside of the Irish bar scene, private parties, church events, etc. We downplay that trad stuff and entertain the crowd.

We don’t have any chips on our shoulders about doing the crowd pleasers. We know all the standard ballards, so it’s no bother to do Athenry or all the rebel songs. If somebody shows up with a good tenor voice, we’ll get them to do the smaltz stuff for us. We’ll put several of them in a row and sing like one verse and chorus, hit the next, then the next etc to get them out of the way.

To really enjoy the day, you have to realize people are there to be entertained. It’s not a day to be an artist and just play what you want. You can’t sit in a session circle and expect the Paddy’s day types to put up with that for long.

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

Patrick was a gentleman he came from dacent people,
he built a church in Dubilin town and on it bunged a steeple.

Wonder if St. patrick ever celebrated paddy’s day.

Re: War Stories from session players who do an annual gig on St Patrick’s Day

About ten years ago four of us were asked to play for about an hour at a brand new pub in the Centre of Ottawa. It was their first St. Patricks’s day celebration and they asked various bands to play one hour sets.

When we got there the line of people tring to get into the pub streched down the block. The back door was locked and objects were thrown at us when we tried to get in through the front door. Finally, we convinced the bouncer that we were supposed to be there and he let us in. To our horror, we discovered were to follow a “punk celtic fusuion band” . The first bar of our openning reel was greated with more projectiles.

We packed up and left.

To this day I have avoided the St. Patrick’s day pub scene like the plague

You know, maybe we should have started with a jig!