This is definitely the place for ITM in Baltimore. Located just a stone’s throw from the historic Fort McHenry, J. Patricks has something going on every night of the week.
On Monday, there is a beginner/intermediate session. Some people use music, some people don’t. Some people have played their instruments for years, and others are just learning. There is no leader for this session, but if you are an out-of-towner, a few of the locals will naturally take some control.
The session on Tuesday is advanced, and is led by Jim Eagan (fiddle) and Laura Byrne (flute). I go to this session, but don’t usually expect to play many tunes because the tune selection is quite diverse. Regardless, the music is incredible, so if nothing else, just come to listen.
The session on Thursday is advanced as well, but I find it to be a bit more accessible. It is led by Peter Fitzgerald (banjo), and there tend to be more musicians and pub patrons than on Tuesdays. Therefore, to keep the musicians active, the tunes tend to be a bit more common, but still varied enough to satisfy me.
On Wednesdays, there are Irish dance lessons, and on Friday-Sunday, there are local ITM bands playing. Also, look for the monthly ceilis.
Sessions in Baltimore
I was gonna mention this in Emily’s discussion, but I figured it would get lost in the mix for anyone who was truly interested, so I’ll just mention it here. I graduate (from college— woo hoo!) tomorrow, which means I’ll be back in Baltimore as of this weekend. Indeed, J. Patrick’s is the main place for sessions right now, but there is a newer establishment where last I knew, there was a session being held Sunday afternoons. I’ll verify this and post it when I know for certain. There was also a session going last year on Sundays at a restaurant in Fells Point, but when football season started, that session died. Anywho, in case anyone was wondering, that’s the session status in Baltimore.
Re: Sessions in Baltimore
Is J.Patrick’s where Eliot Grasso and Billy McComiskey usually play out?
Re: Sessions in Baltimore
In response to Jack, I know Jeremy doesn’t like info about sessions being posted on the discussion board, but I didn’t perceive this post as being of that nature. Rather, in Emily’s thread about flutes and intonation, a few people commented about the sessions in Baltimore. Instead of responding there, where the comment would likely get lost as it did not pertain to Emily’s initial question, I figured I would just post my comment here.
In response to Zina, yes, J. Patrick’s is where those guys would play. Although, in the 3 years or so that I’ve been on the scene, it seems that you’ll be more apt to find Billy’s son Sean (also a box player) playing. For the most part, the younger contigency of musicians seem to come out the most often. Some of the veterans like Billy and Donna Long still make it out, but perhaps not with as great a frequency as I understand they used to a few years back. Anywho, I’ll refrain from anymore name dropping, and cross my fingers that this post doesn’t get the axe 🙂
Sessions - age
hey, just wondering - is there anywhere around that’ll let people under 21 in during sessions? I’m 18 and am having a *bit* of trouble in this arena, Thanks.
J. Patrick’s session is unfriendly
I’m a college student who has been playing guitar and mandolin in sessions and at ceillis pretty much all my life, and the J. Patrick’s Tuesday night sessions is hands-down the most unfriendly and unwelcoming session I’ve ever been to. I understand and follow all the tacit the rules of session etiquette — I was taught them quite explicity by people much older and wiser than I (most notably, Bruce Foley, formerly of the Irish Tradition)— and many of the players at J. Patrick’s really overdo it. It’s as if you aren’t welcome playing there if you haven’t been doing so your whole life, and I have been made to feel that way (unwelcome) just about every time I’ve sessioned there. I no longer go to the J. Patrick’s session, and I hope someone who does will read this and take note and mention it to somebody so that no one else gets driven away.
Hi Robbie, sorry to hear of your rotten experience. Just for a little background info, I joined thesession.org a little over 2 years ago, just when I started playing Irish flute, so I am very much a beginner, though very much a veteran on this website. Although Baltimore is my hometown & I currently live here, I was living in rural Arizona when I took up the music & relied heavily on this website for information about sessions & tunes, up until last May when I moved back to Baltimore. It should go without saying that what you write on here lives a long while, & unlike sites like Chiff & Fipple which you can edit, you obviously can’t on here. I so rarely log on here anymore, I wouldn’t even have found your comments, except someone from J. Patrick’s spotted it, & well, you can imagine.
What I think is truly bizarre is that you want to fit into the scene here, & then publicly slag the players who make up the scene. I was at the Tuesday night session last night with Conán (beloved box player from this website) & he thinks it one of the best sessions he’s ever been to, & I think he may post as much when he gets the chance. Last night’s usual suspects included Myron Bretholz, Pat Egan, Laura Byrne, Dan Isaacson, Jim Egan & Sean McComiskey, all of them stellar players & fantastic craic. A friendlier group I think you won’t find (except when the election is on in the background & the red states keep piling up, but that’s a whole different story). What IS true is that they are all very advanced players & have been playing together for a very long time. The Tuesday night sesh is technically open, but I would very much consider it a listening session — last night was the first time I’d even started a set much less brought my flute out, b/c I mostly go just to record the tunes. There are at least 2 other semi-closed sessions at different venues in Baltimore that are not posted here for that very reason. Monday nights is unbelievably friendly, a slow tune-learning session run by a box player named Bill, where I routinely find out how many tunes I DON’T know. Thursdays run by Peter Fitzgerald is a bit of a wild card, you never know who will show up, in both good & bad ways, but some incredible players have cut their teeth at this session over the years, including Eliot Grasso, Jesse Smith, Cleek Schrey & Kieran O’Hare. I’m not trying to name drop, I’m just letting you know I was very nervous coming back onto the scene here in Baltimore, & I have had nothing but warm support & encouragement. I bring friends to these sessions all the time, even some from this website, & have never had a bad experience. You, on the other hand, by posting your comments, have managed to alienate some of the coolest ppl on the planet, & I feel really sorry for you that you’ve started out on such a poor footing with some of the best musicians around. Good luck to you, hon! (I’m getting better at saying that these days, in Bawlmer, we call everyone ‘hon.’ Maybe you could start trying to fit in more by increasing your use of that simple phrase? Heck, it’s a start.)
J Patrick’s session is FRIENDLY!
Robbie, sorry but pretty much everything Emily says is true. I’ve been going to sessions nigh on 17 years and have been playing quite a few years more than that. J Patricks is without doubt one of the best sessions I’ve been to, in terms of music, craic and warmth of welcome. The musicians are second to none; technically I really should have sat out and listened and yet when I turned up with my instruments they welcomed me with such hospitality that I was overwhelmed. There was no schmaltz or pretence - these are just genuine, down-to-earth people who love a tune and are good enough to do it justice. I’ve never had session etiquette drummed into me - as I’ve said in a previous post it’s simply a question of being polite and being yourself. Sounds to me like there was a personality clash or misunderstanding in the first instance - these things happen.
I would advise anyone thinking of catching some music in the Baltimore area to make J Patricks your first port of call.
And if any of the patrons are reading this, thanks a million for making my stay in the ‘States such a great experience. See you all again soon!
Monday’s session start time?
Emily or Conan - I’m going to be in Baltimore on business (I work for SSA) December 13-15. I’d like to drop by for the Monday night session, but I don’t know the time or if the session will be going since it’s close to Christmas.
Monday’s session is open, right?
Just a bit of an update. The Monday session is officially listed as having a leader now, and while the idea of a "leader" may scare some people, it has tremendously improved the session. It is still a beginner/ intermediate session, but the "leader" has begun to successfully ween people off the written music, tape record, and learn tunes. The whole session definitely has a much more Irish feel to it than it ever has in the past. However, still open to people of all ability levels.
Just realized that I’ve previously neglected to post times for the sessions.
Monday: 8 PM-10PM (we occasionally stay a bit later, but odds are, if you show up much beyond 10, the place will be shut down)
Tues/Thurs.: 9 PM-12AM (Irish time of course)
Weekend stuff: not sure really… prolly anytime after 9 PM or so, but I could be wrong. May wanna call ahead of time if your schedule is that tight.
OK, that’s my update for now… until I get procrastinating again and decide to post something else.
I’ve only been playing Irish fiddle since January and my friends and I go down to JPatricks for the Tuesday sessions every so often and they’re really the friendliest sort I’ve ever met. Sure, it’s impressive and a little scary to hear all these old-timers scratch out tunes for hours, but there’s so much to learn from them, and they’re all so encouraging and kind. I’ve actually been seen (by my roommate) to have a fit on some of the days when I couldn’t get a ride to the session. Ooops. This is a great session, even if a bit intimidating for a beginner!!!!
Ceilis and such
Btw, ceilis are the second Sunday of every month. Officially go from 4:30-8:30 PM. There’s usually a caller. Mostly sets danced. Occasionally a Haymakers gets tossed in. Few waltzes as well. Can have upwards of about 4 sets going. Cost is $5 to get in. Even if you don’t dance, come to enjoy the music which is always solid. Odds are you’ll wanna dance anyways.
Ceili is then followed by Sunday Drivers which goes until midnight if people are still around. If people aren’t around, they’ll often stop, or at least that’s my understanding. I can’t speak for the Sundays when there aren’t ceilis.
As for the Friday and Saturday night music, usually starts around 9 and goes until close which I think is around 1. Could be wrong on this, but if nothing else, it at least goes until midnight. Some groups are more ballad-y, others are instrumental. Best bet is to call the pub if you really wanna know before heading down. Second and third weekends of the month typically have bands that are more than willing to play for dancers, so we’ll often get a set going.
Coming to Baltimore Sept. 21st 2006
If I brought my guitar (DADGAD, trained by Daithi Sproule, Randal Bays, Hans York), could I sit in just a wee bit at J. Patricks… ? that’s a Thursday night I host a session in the Seattle area.
Thanks! Martin Nyberg
Finally got around to asking a few more questions about the schedule, and here’s what I can say in regards to the weekend schedule. Friday and Saturday there is live music from 9 until 1 (closing). All of the bands are traditional. Some play more sets and therefore cater to dancers (we usually get a set going on the 2nd and 3rd Friday of each month). Other bands do more of the ballad thing and therefore would be more suitable to either listening or waltzing. Also there is indeed music every Sunday evening. It’s the Sunday Drivers which is Andy Thurston on guitar and whoever else he gets to play with him. Call in advance to make sure he is playing as there seem to be occasional weeks off.
I haven’t seen Sunday Drivers after the monthly ceilis on Sunday in a while so I kind of get the impression that there isn’t Sunday evening music anymore. If it’s something you’re looking for I would call in advance to get a definite answer.
I stand corrected
Regarding my above comment about Sunday Drivers, they still in fact play every Sunday night, except for after the 2nd Sunday ceilis since everyone tends to clear out after the dancing is done. So, if you’re in town and looking for live Irish music on Sunday nights, you can still find it at J. Pat’s.
New Wednesday Session
A new session has begun on Wednesdays from 9-11. It is for beginners and is is sheet music friendly. Songs and tunes are welcome. Led by Jennifer.
While the Wednesday session might return at some point, as of now, it is not happening.
My Annual Comment
Nothing groundbreaking to say. Just wanted to make my annual comment so anybody looking for sessions in Baltimore know that J. Patrick’s continues to be THE place for traditional Irish music in town. Still no TVs, jukeboxes or anything like that to distract you from tunes, conversation, and good times. All of the previously mentioned sessions (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday) are still alive and well, as is the live music and dancing on the weekends. Don’t be shy. We always welcome new people.
Really nice session
I took a trip up yesterday from DC to this session. Really had an enjoyable evening. Friendly people, great tunes, relaxed atmosphere. What more can you ask for? Many thanks for welcoming me!
Monday evenings still going?
Hi, I’ve been away from the music for some years, and I stumbled on this website just now while looking up a tune! Last time I was at JPs beginner sesh was still an idea or just getting started. Mondays beginner looks good to me… Have to remember how to get there from Westminster!
Someone please tell Myron, Jim Egan HI for me, and tell Jim my folks (Jack and Jane) say hi to him and his.
Hope to see ya soon!
Thanks for the warm welcome!
I recently attended the Thursday session while in town on business. I received a warm welcome and had a great time. The music was grand. I look forward to visiting again.
Beginning session at J. Patricks
I live in the Baltimore area, and am a fiddle player, although not much Irish trad stuff yet. I am fond of it though, and would like to get into playing it. What is the best way to approach learning the tunes one would likely hear at the Monday session, do they have sheet music, or a tune and song key list, or is it mostly learning by ear?
Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. Slainte.
Tuesday night was great!
Thanks for letting an occassional out-of-towner join in and feel welcome. I’ve visited the Tuesday session on two separate occasions in the last few months when I have been in town on business. I try to visit at least once whenever I am in town. I’ve also brought a few friends/associates down with me. It’s a great place with a friendly atmosphere and wonderful music.
Here is a sampling of the tunes that often get played during Monday’s session (Thanks to Jim for compiling the lists):
1. Boys of Bluehill, Harvest Home
2. The Mountain Road, Humours of Tulla
3. Ballydesmond Polka, Britches Full of Stitches
4. Silver Spear, Red Haired Lass reels
5. Lilting Banshee, My Darling Asleep, the Connaught Man’s Rambles
6. Lark in the Morning, The Battering Ram
7. Rolling in the Ryegrass, The Wise Maid, Cooley’s
8. Egan’s Polka, Pat Enrights’s Polka,
9. Maid Behind the Bar, The Musical Priest, The Glass of Beer
10. Dailey‘s, Bill Sullivan’s Polka
11. The Butterfly,Barney Brallighans slip jig
12. The Gentle Maiden
13. O’Rourke’s Reel, The Wild Irishman
14. Harvest Home, Off to California hornpipe
15. Road to Lisdoonvarna
16. The Skylark, Roaring Mary
17. The Man of the House, Woman of the House
18. Loftus Jones by O’Carolan
19. Wind That Shakes the Barley, The Congress, The Foxhunter
20. Lilting Banshee, Connaught Man’s Rambles, Kesh Jig
21. Rolling on the Rye Grass, Sally Gardens
22. Harvest Home, Murphy’s Hornpipe
23. Banish Misfortune, Gillan’s Apples
24. Otter’s Holt, Silver Spear, Another Setting for Silver Spear
25. Lark in the Morning, Battering Ram, Jimmy Ward’s
26. Rights of Man, Boys of Bluehill
27. Flax in Bloom, Red Haired Lass
28. Pat Enrights Polka, Polka in C, Ballydesmond Polka #1, Ballydesmond Polka #2
29. Copperplates #1, Copperplate #2
30. Gravel Walk
31. Brenda Stubbard, The High Reel
32. Devanny’s Goat, Pigeon on the Gate, Banshee
33. Maid on the Green, Geese in the Bog, My Darling Asleep
This list obviously doesn’t cover everything we’ll play on a given week as that is constantly evolving, but it should give a good sense of things to anybody interested in attending the Monday session.
Fred, I’ll send you a PM, but for anybody interested in venturing out on a Monday, we used to use sheet music, but have gotten away from it in recent years. While it’s still considered a beginner/intermediate session, the general approach is to learn by ear (bring a tape recorder). However, that being said we certainly don’t turn away anybody who shows up with sheet music.
(Unfortunately, for anybody looking for a tune list for the Tuesday or Thursday sessions, I really can’t provide that as the tune selection is generally much more varied.)
I visited this session before and I was hands down off form on teh fiddle.
Nobody at the session said anything about my playing, nobody brought it up when I re-encountered the players at other sessions in southern Maryland and northern Virginia.
I must admit (not an attempt to make excuses for myself) that I did find the emptyness of the venue and the half circle approaching the "leader" format highly sterile, I really don’t mean to bash anyone and I’ve seen comments above stating how it helped the sessions immensely so do what works for sure but it just wasn’t for me, I lead a session in Dublin and although my preference would be to sit facing outwards, I do so when that seat is available and that is purely so that I can project my voice across the bar better, I would never tell anyone where to sit at that session and never exercise favoritism in telling somebody where to sit based on how well I know them and their playing. If it works for ye at J Patrick’s, well and good, but traditional Irish music is not a matter of life and death, it’s supposed to be fun and enjoyable playing at sessions no matter what your level of ability is. There’s my 2 cents on it.
Thanks for the session that I did play at and thanks for not drawing attention to my poor playing on that evening but no-thanks on returning.
Paudy, your comments are fair enough. I’m not sure which night you came down, but just to clarify, on some nights the session can reach to upwards of 20 musicians, all of varying ability. Logistically on these nights it’s easier to have the stronger musicians closer to the geographic core of everything just for the sake of maintaining the cohesiveness of the tunes. There are also some musicians who prefer to sit further away because they prefer to play quietly while trying to learn tunes. Without this structure, things can easily fall apart, which is a bit of a craic-killer. Apologies if this rubbed you the wrong way. Best of luck with your musical endeavors wherever they take you.
Regarding the emptiness of the venue, J. Pat’s is feeling the effects of the economy like everywhere else on the world. To anyone reading this, please come out to the sessions (bring some friends) and support this wonderful little place that has been a musical haven for so many of us ITMers in Baltimore. Thanks!
A friend mentioned J Patirck’s to me when I told her I was planning on learning the violin. I checked out the website and was happy to see there are sessions on Monday nights for beginner/intermediate players. I’m a beginner, but an absolute beginner with no prior experience on the violin. I did however play the flute for 5 years and have sung my whole life so I do have musical ability, which is something at least. Would someone like me still be encouraged to attend these sessions? I’m a quick learner and have a good ear so I anticipate picking it up without too much of a struggle, I hope. Thanks in advance for any information!
Jason G, I appreciate you taking the time to reply and for not taking my comments the wrong way, the only thing I wanted to clarify on the session aspect is that with the exception of the session the pub was pretty empty feeling, numbers always help yes, but the pub itself could probably do with a facelift - yep not gona happen with the economy etc.
It was a monster session that night, well 20 probably total, and I thought that had all the musicians been sitting around a table or something more civilised, it may have looked more natural than this forced follow the leader format, realistically any session leader will direct traffic regardless of whether he sits facing everyone sitting in a semicircle around him or sits at a table with the other musicians. It’s sometimes nice to have a place to put your instrument down, a place to rest your drink, lean your arms on if you’re sitting out that tune.
I’m not trying to tell folks what to do, just sharing my impressions of that session online in a (hopefully) constructive manner.
Paudy, I appreciate the civility of your comments (such is not always the case online as I’m sure everyone’s aware). I agree that it is tough with the arrangement of the session to have a place to rest your instrument or drink if you’re not around the central table. Sometimes people pull stools up, but yeah, it’s tough.
Wvualum08, to answer your question, we encourage anyone to attend the Monday night session who wants to learn the tunes as long as you’re aware of just a few basic etiquette rules. If you’re still learning to play an instrument, it’s obviously going to be tough to play along since pretty much everyone that attends the session has a decent familiarity with their chosen instrument, but if nothing else, bring a recording device so you can practice at home. If you want to try and pick up the tunes at the session as well, noodling that is too audible can often be a distraction to others, but with Monday nights being a less popular nights for patrons in the pub, you can probably find a table to sit at and noodle quietly without distracting the session. I know this isn’t the best option for socializing which is half the fun, but it’s an option nonetheless. Anywho, hope this advice helped.
My annual update
I’ve been to a bunch of session pages on here that are never updated which then leads you to question whether or not the music is still going. Just doing my part to leave no doubts about J. Patrick’s, so here goes:
Sadly, the owner passed away a few months ago. Was a great loss to the neighborhood as well as the Baltimore Irish music community. At this point though despite some uncertainty about the future all of the aforementioned sessions/ceilis/weekend band gigs are continuing as they have for the past 25 years. All guests from any walk of life continued to be welcome. Only minor thing worth noting though regarding sessions is that sometimes the Tuesday session (and I think the Thursday as well) end at 11:00 if there are no patrons in the bar and the size of the session is on the smaller side. Is really up to whoever’s bartending on that particular night, so if you’re somebody who is always fashionably late, I would suggest arriving a bit earlier to get your tune/convo fill for the night.
Well, what many of us feared would happen has in fact happened. I won’t go into specific details, but just know that the Monday and Thursday sessions have ended. I know the Monday regulars are looking around for a new place to play and are planning some house sessions in the meantime. I’m not sure what the logistics are at this point, so if you’re coming into town, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll fill you in as much as possible. I’m not sure what the Thursday crowd is planning. I think somebody mentioned that musicians are still welcome to show up and play informally, but don’t hold me to that. Again, feel free to drop me a line if you’re coming into town and I’ll do my best to track down more specifics. Tuesday session is still going at this point as are the other weekend gigs. Will certainly update this page with any future changes.
I stand corrected
Just found out last night that apparently the Tuesday session has suffered the same fate as the Thursday session. My understanding is that officially it’s cancelled, but musicians are welcome to show up and play so long as it doesn’t get in the way of other events that may be occurring. Will be interesting to see how this all plays out, so stay tuned for more updates.