Commodore John Barry Arts And Cultural Center

6815 Emlen Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Fourteen comments

This is a neat little session - the Irish Club is a great place to hang out and have a few pints with some fun local characters. The sessions start about 9pm. It’s a slower-paced session great for beginner to intermediate players, but you also will find more advanced players hanging out and joining in as well. The Irish Club also holds monthy ceilis and lots of other seasonal events related to Irish music.

True Story

Okay, so now for the real reason I posted this session! My funny true story. It works better as a story that you would hear because of the aural play on words, but read it out loud to yourself and see if it doesn’t make you laugh.

Whenever I am in Philadelphia, I usually end up playing a gig or two at the Irish Center. I find sometimes that walking in there is like walking into “Cheers:” everyone knows each other, and everyone is always so friendly and welcoming.

Last St.Patrick’s Day, I was playing for several events at the Irish center, ranging from ceilis to workshops and even a few sets with guitarist John Brennan. At the end of the evening, I was sitting at the bar with John having a few pints, and John was intermittently talking with a man I had briefly met earlier as Mr.Sweeney, my friend’s roommate’s father. However, John
pulled me over and introduced him to me as “Mr.Fog.”

At that, both John and “Mr.Fog” were laughing so hard that they could barely speak. I was confused about the sudden name change and asked them about that as soon as they stopped laughing long enough to talk.

“Mr.Fog” told me the following story in his thick but easy-to-understand Donegal accent…

"One night I was driving home from Baltimore. I had only one or two pints, I was quite sober actually, and I just really wanted to get home to my own bed.

I was driving along, it was late and dark and sure I was going a little faster than I should have been. As I was coming around a curve, I saw these flasing lights in my rearview mirror and of course I pulled over.

The officer got out of his car and walked up to my window.

‘License and registration, please,’

‘Oh, jaysus officer, I’m so sorry, you know I wasn’t even paying attention,’ I said.

‘Sir,’ the officer said stoically as he peered at me from under the brim of his hat, ‘do you know how fast you were going?’

‘Sure sure officer, oh but you know how it is, it’s late and I only wanted to get home,’ I argued with him.

Then the officer said something that threw me off:
‘Sir, what if you had run into Mister Fog?’

Confused and completely serious, I slowly replied, ‘Well, I would have put Mister Foot on Mister Brake and stopped Mister Car!’

The officer looked at me with his expressionless face and didn’t speak for nearly a minute. Then he replied, ‘Sir, I meant MIST or FOG.’

I of course started to laugh, but the officer remained stoic and expressionless and simply told me to drive carefully and he drove away."

That story has gone down famously around the Philadelphia area and I’ve written the reel “Mr.Fog’s Trip to Baltimore” to preserve the story for prosperity!

LOL -- GOOD one, Cara…

Reminds me of some story someone told me the other day about some teenager getting stopped by a highway patrolman. “Son,” drawls the cop, “I’ve been waiting for you all day.”

“Sorry, sir,” chirps the kid, “I got here as fast as I could!”

And now I shall go looking for your tune in the archives. 🙂


Oh, I haven’t posted that tune. In fact, I haven’t posted any tunes because I stink at ABC notation. I have written quite a few tunes, all of which commemorate disasters, either mine or someone else’s!


Well, send somebody a sound file of it then (or give it to Brad if you bump into him at a session one of these days) and we’ll transcribe it. It’s too good a story not to be able to follow it up with the tune! 🙂


John Brennan

What’s he like? I’m going to his house tomorrow for a fiddle lesson.

Irish Club Session

If you can find the place (I needed a GPS monitor) the session at the Commodore Barry Club is friendly and fun. I came in as a total stranger and was welcomed by one and all. I’d recommmend the session to any visitor.
And it is still going on as of January 2005

Mike Keyes

No Longer Running

There is no longer any Friday night session at the Commodore Barry Irish Center. The regular Friday night session became a musical mess and was abandoned by the more skilled musicians some time ago. Without their participation, the session died. The monthly slow session which has been going for the past year may continue, but presently there is no longer any Friday night session.


Apparently, there is still some sort of session on the first Friday of each month, but I am not sure exactly what kind of a shape it is in currently.The 4th Friday ceili is still going.

Friday night slow session

The Commodore Barry Center does indeed have an active and self renewing slow session on the first Friday night of every month beginning at 8PM. There is a mix of talent and experience but the sessions are played with respect for newbies and generous tips and tune sharing by the more seasoned players.

Friday night slow session

Does anyone know if the slow session still going on? I’m looking for a place to learn/practice and would really appreciate any info or help.


First Friday Session is on at Commodore Barry!

I’ve been leading this monthly session, sponsored jointly by the Philadelphia Ceili Group and the Irish Center, for over a year now, and we’re going strong. Session starts at 8 PM, we keep the tempo moderate for the first hour at least, and support those who are finding their sea legs at traditional Irish music. We have a good mix of levels and instruments showing up. Please join us!

Re: Commodore Barry Irish Club Sessions

Yes, the “slow” session on the 1st Friday of the month at 8:00 pm is still going strong at the Commodore Barry Club. The group consists of a very friendly bunch of folks. All newcomers are welcome. Thanks to Hollis Payer’s guidance it is a very enjoyable event, and all players will be given an opportunity to contribute by starting off a tune regardless of skill level. The pace does pick up about half way through, but many of the tunes are well-known, so with a little concentration a slower player can learn to play up to speed with many of them. Thank you , Hollis , for keeping this session going, as most sessions in the area are for players who only play at lightning speed.