304 Bowery, Manhattan, New York, USA

Nineteen comments

Dempsey’s session Tuesday night. Starts about 8 P.M., usually runs until about 11-11:30.

This is an open session and usually gets around 15-20 people, sometimes more. It’s usually conducted round-robin style, with each person in turn getting a chance to start a set of tunes. Playing levels vary quite a bit. The speed of the tune (in theory) is set by the person who starts the tune. (sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.)

Content is Irish trad, with some Scottish tunes here and there and very occasionally something else. The usual mix of tradtiional Irish instruments. Like every session, it varies quite a bit from week to week in terms of quality/ambiance.

Dempsey Pub not Jack Dempsey’s

In NYC there is both Pubs The address above is correct.

Format Note

The “round robin” format gives way to the more common free style format one usually sees in large pub sessions at 10:00 PM. The level tends to elevate a little then, sometimes, a lot.

The session emphasizes a welcoming atmosphere, living up to a big part of what the tradition is supposed to be about. Singers are also welcome.

Players in NYC

Out of curiosity, does anyone on these boards go to any of the weekly sessions around manhattan, particularly the dempsey’s session on tuesdays?

North Country Brewing, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania; 1st & 3rd Tuesdays; 8pm to 10pm

Small group of regulars. Very friendly; lots of fun. All trad instruments welcome. Suitable for beginners too.


Hello - the session is the longest running open session in NYC. As of JUNE 2007, it has been going on now for 8 1/2 years. Unlike what most sessions end up being, we respect the tradition in that we welcome ALL people at ALL times. That includes but is certainly not limited to beginners. People with big egos and are legends in their own minds probably would feel terribly comfortable at DEMSPEYS, but everyone else will have a good time. So, drop in.


Dempsey’s sessuib

I was at this session two weeks ago and will be going again tonight.--alas, I have to leave New York on Thursday. I knew I would like it when the first few sets of tunes were all tunes I knew, although that did not last. It was a friendly group in a great pub. Beginners should not expect that they can play on all tunes, but it is a good place to learn about what a friendly session is like, and everyone will have a chance to particpate. Level of ability was mixed. Tony DeMarco and John Nevin led the session. For me, this is what Irish music is all about.


Update - DEMPSEYS Web Site Now Includes page for TUES session


Please refer to the following link for the DEMPSEYS SESSION, now almost 10 years running, for special events, etc.

I will keep this up to date so you will know what guest artist are coming up.

Session has been great in recent times, very strong. A favorite spot for people visiting NYC who want to play or just listen.

Hope to see you soon at DEMPSEYS!


Dempsey’s Session

I was at this session the night of June 9th and had a GREAT time! Ended up staying and playing until about 1am. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming! I will certainly go there again if even in Manhattan.

Thanks again John, Brian, Joe and Steve (and anyone else I might have forgotten)!

Chuck (the fluter visiting from Tokyo)

Dempseys Update


It’s been a while so I thought I would update the info on the DEMPSEYS session.

It takes place EVERY TUESDAY at 8PM. The location is 61 Second Ave in Manhattan, NYC. See the following URL for the latest info:

For the most part, anyone who comes to this session leaves satisfied and generally does come back at some point, if not regularly. There is a newsgroup on yahoo which you can get to via the URL above. All are encouraged, none are turned away.

John Nevin

DEMPSEYS Session…stronger than ever….


My last posting here was three years ago, so I thought I would refresh things a bit.

We remain the longest running, totally open session in New York City, and we are probably the largest session most weeks. We have clocked in more than 15 years at this point, and there is no sign of slowing down. My great thanks to our patron, Tom O’Byrne, and the able staff at DEMPSEYS, for their unflagging support all these years.

We maintain our open and welcome policy, and it works. Roughly ever other week, we book a guest musician from the rich pool of talent that is available in the NYC area to be our “guest host”, but even then, we make sure everyone who wants to start a set gets to. We’ve been doing this a long time…I think we have it nailed.

We regularly have visitors from around the world finding us and dropping in when they are passing through town; and they usually come back again and again.

So, we hope to see you soon at DEMPSEYS!

John Nevin

Well worth a visit

I dropped by on a Tuesday night, October 2013. The session had maybe twenty players and seemed to go through three stages. The first hour felt like a beginners slow session, lots of polkas played very gently. Then a smaller group broke away and for a few hours settled down to playing mostly old standards at around 100bpm. Around 11 o’clock the speed jumped up to 120bpm. Whether this was planned or just the effects of the beer I couldn’t say. Lively and friendly and energetic but a bit too much dull thwacking of bodhrans on every single tune. I’d definitely go again.

End of year sessions at DEMPSEYS!

Greetings all

Just letting you know that DEC 10 and DEC 17 are the last two sessions at DEMPSEYS for 2013, we are OFF the following two weeks for the holidays. It is unusual for us to be off, but, there you go.

The DEC 17 session is also our Christmas party. It will be packed! So get there early if you are planning to be there. We have an all-star line up of top tier musicians in addition to our great regulars.

Happy Holidays,
John Nevin

anyone here going to be at Dempsey’s tomorrow?

I’m doing my annual work trip to NYC, would love to say hi. I’ll be the uncomfortable looking one with the beard, glasses and concertina, coming fashionably late.

Update from session leader….


I am happy to report that our venerable session continues. We are well into our 19th year. Look for the most recent film effort per Irish TV soon.

Our session is most definitely one of the most open and welcoming you will find anywhere, and we aim to keep it that way. That does not mean it is a beginners session - beginners are welcome, as are all “levels” of ability.

The session has a special guest musician usually every other week. But even then, we do not allow it to become about that person; it is a community where all contribute.

So, come down on a Tuesday night. You won’t be disappointed!

John Nevin

New Location - same great session!

Tom O’Byrne is rebranding his bar at 61 Second Ave, and DEMPSEYS is no more! Hard to believe, I know.

But, Tom has a venue you may have heard of around the corner - Slainte - at 304 Bowery, and we will continue to hold NYC’s longest running OPEN session there starting on 19 April 2016. So, we haven’t gone anywhere. Come by and visit us every TUES night at 8PM at this new, wonderful location. It’s a great place.

John Nevin

Re: Slainte

I went along to this session in September 2019. I haven’t been since it changed location. There were some new faces and some I remembered. John was as welcoming as ever, as was everyone else. I was pretty jetlagged, but the tunes were flowing nicely. There is a lovely vibe, great tunes and lovely to see the session going strong in a new place. Thanks everyone for a great night.

Slàinte Update - MARCH 2021

It’s been a whole year now since our session has been shut down due to gov’t imposed restrictions. In recent weeks, the business has been “allowed” to open back up in a limited way. It will probably be like for some time to come. Tom, the owner, speculates it will be 2022 before music sessions can return. That’ll be a hell of a long time, hard to say if the session can maintain interest after such a break in continuity.

So, my friends, do your best to find tunes with each other as best you can in the meantime.
Stay strong.
John Nevin