A real Irish pub, great tunes
Fergie’s is a real Irish pub in the true sense of the word; No TVs, great conversation, and now, great trad tunes in the form of an open session Saturdays from 4 to 7. Led by fiddler Brendan Callahan (www.fiddleguru.net, composer of many fine tunes) and guitarist Darin Kelly (no website, haven’t written any tunes), we expect the great tunes to be equalled only by the great craic.
By the way…
… I should mention that this session probably falls into the "moderately advanced" level category.
Hey Darin—glad it’s off to a good start—I will try to make it down on a Saturday real soon—I have spread the word as well to a couple of friends and to my teacher (Kathy DeAngelo) and her husband Dennis. You may know them.
Ok, I finally made it to this session! An intimate group—about 5 including me, but I mostly just lisenend and learned being somewhat of a beginner on fiddle. Although I was invited to start a couple of sets myself a couple times. Very gracious and friendly people. A little smoky, but not exceedingly so. Nice bar, too.
This is a nice seisiun. Plenty of tunes in friendly surroundings, good food, good craic. Usually 5-7 players. One of my favorites.
The answer to the "Philadelphia Trivia" question posed at this session on 6/5/04 concerning the mysterious statue at 16th and the Parkway is…
"The Prophet" by Jacob Lipkin.
See it at:
http://www.centercityphila.org/home/statuelighting.aspx (scroll down and click the title)
Just went to this session for the first time, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back. Nice little atmosphere. People were very appreciative. Food was quite good— fish and chips actually tasted like real food, not something you find in the frozen food section of a supermarket. Parking is convenient (adjacent to the pub), but expensive ($14 for any amount of time over an hour). Probably cheaper parking elsewhere that isn’t too far away, but unless you’re familiar with Philly, suck it up and park in the lot. Again, nice session.
The hummus is muy bueno, too.
You forgot to mention the excellent wait staff!
Glad you liked the fish and chips, Jason. ;^)
See you soon.
Ok, just went back to this session for the first time in a few months. Feeling a little more comfy with Philly, I drove around some and found cheaper parking. Just two blocks away on Sansom and 10th, there is all day parking for $6. Supposedly there is also $6 parking on Sansom and 13th, but I didn’t check that out.
Oh, and the shepherds pie is also very good. Very hearty as it should be and well worth the $8.75 (salad included). Really nice session today. Good tunes and good food makes Jason a happy man :-)
A new era begins…
Well, almost six years into the Fergie’s session and it’s still going strong as ever. The tunes are always top-drawer and the craic second to none. Locals and out-of-towners agree this session is right up there with the best in the U.S.
Beginning in November, a new era will begin at the Fergie’s session, following the bittersweet departure of The Big Man, Brendan Callahan, who will travel north to peddle his wares in the fine city of Boston. Fergie’s will continue on the same weekly schedule, but now will feature a rotating cast of some local favorites (Paddy O’Neill, Kevin McGillian, John McGillian, John Brennan, Brian Boyce, etc) as well as occasional out of town guests (Sean McComiskey, Tony DeMarco, Gráinne Murphy, etc). I’ll still be holding down the fort as the chief backer, and I’ll do my best to keep everybody up to date on our featured guests.
When you’re in Philly, be sure to stop by… Always good to see a fresh face.
I regret that I have to say that after my visit to Fergie’s last Sat., I probably would not go back again. The place is way too small, tight and dreary, and so was the atmosphere…Not really welcoming and warm, with the exception of a dear friend that happened to be there…And that was the first time I met most of those musicians! And before I even played! Too bad!
I’m sorry, c.smitty, that you seem to have had a negative experience at Fergie’s. Ironically, some of the very qualities that you disliked about the place itself (tight, dreary) are what many regulars and visitors like most about Fergie’s (although we tend to use words like "cozy", "intimate", and "non-commercial"). We have a great deal of visitors at the session, and almost all really enjoy the music and conversation. Unquestionably those that enjoy it the most are those who display simple etiquette: Introducing themselves, asking if they may join us, and showing patience until they hear a tune they know and join in. We almost always invite these musicians to start a set of tunes if they wish. This is certainly an advanced session, and admittedly our pace and formality in this way is not for everyone. I wish you all the best, and thank you for your comments.
Well, thank you for your response. Actually, I did introduce myself to the others there and had to ask them to introduce themselves. I was welcomed in by the friend I met there. I did join in tunes I knew and heard some nice new ones. It wasn’t a session that was over my head. I am used to playing in limited space, so that I am ducking fiddler’s elbows or bows. I suppose, from your comments above, that I did use proper session etiquette. Anyway, if ever someone I play with regularly is going, I would retract the statement that I would not go again, and until then, I hope you enjoy your Sat. afternoons at Fergie’s.
A few words of clarification from another one of those possibly responsible for the “not really welcoming, warm” atmosphere experienced by c.smitty. Fergie’s is probably the best session venue in Philadelphia, a city infested with many Micky O’Mouse Oirish drinking holes.The weekly session is hosted by the best musicians in the area and tends to attract the rest of the best, but by no means exclusively so. The more steely learning / improving / intermediate local players have also established themselves there. As with any long-running, high-standard session anywhere in the world, the regular musicians form a fairly tight-knit group having spent years playing tunes with and listening to each other. The pace of the session is usually fast and, occasionally, rather furious and the session leaders know hundreds of tunes. Yes, outright beginners and even good intermediate musicians may well find themselves out of their depth and listening a lot more than playing, but listening to good musicians is an essential part of learning this music – isn’t it? If you come expecting the dynamics of a session – any session anywhere – to change to suit you on your first visit, Fergie’s might well disappoint. If you are used to the round robin format, forget it! That’s unlikely to happen either – too many tunes, not enough time and it’s not what Fergie himself is paying for. But that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be asked to start a set. As regards “atmosphere”, on a good Saturday with the music in full swing (as was the case yesterday), there’s enough atmosphere generated in Fergie’s to make Mars inhabitable.
Fergie’s is a great session.
Re: Fergie’s Pub
Still going 4-7pm.