Galway Arms

2442 N. Clark St., Chicago, Illinois, USA

Twelve comments

New Lincoln Park session

I believe that the session starts at 7 PM. I have not been yet, but I have heard good things about it and that it is a friendly atmosphere for all levels of play.

A Gan Bua evening

Happened to be lincoln park last night so i stopped in to check out this session. Was chaired principally by Chris Bain on fiddle and Sheila Doorley on box, both of whom are members of the irish trad band, Gan Bua ( However, the entire band ended up coming in—Tim Flemming hanging out backing on guitar and Jackie Moran i think was there too (but not playing). In fact, if you left the immediate area of the session, a gan bua CD was playing on the speakers. Strange.

In any case, chris and sheila were doing some really spicy and sculped sets which i imagine they play together in Gan Bua. Sounded great. They’re both great players. But. I didn’t know many of their tunes, or if i did, they played them in an alternative key. So i didn’t play much. In fact, the session flirted significantly with being a closed performance. This certainly wasn’t malicious nor even intentional. just by default.

Now, if you want want to hear some great tunes and some mighty arrangements, i’d say check this session out. But keep yerself at the bar. However, if you are really looking for the craic that comes with musically in addition to socially interacting with others at a session, then you would advised to check out one of the many other sessions that take place in chicago on sunday. there are a lot to choose from.

I am willing to admit that this may have been the dynamics of just one evening. This session is still new and may mature.

i should add that this is a nice pub. the food in particulary was outstanding. eating and listening would certainly be a brilliant combination…

Yer spot on about Sheila being a great player. She ought to consider doing some solo work with a good accompanist, she’s got a very good way with a tune, very sweet yet rhythmic and danceable.

Galway Arms Session

There is no such session.

Well, there was at one time, did you call or stop in?

I didn’t make it to this session, but I did talk to the guy who runs it, a fiddler named Sean who also runs the Grafton Sunday (earlier) session. He says it happens on Sundays, starting at 9pm.

Variety Show for tourists

See subject.

If you like screechy tenors, prima donna fiddlers, socially maladjusted, unemployable, twentysomething "virtuosi," and bloviated parasites hanging around them, this is your place.

Otherwise, move along…

Great session

I think this is a great session, every Sunday from 8:00 p.m. until about 10:30 p.m. I can’t imagine anyone who was unwelcome or jaded enough to write otherwise. It does run a bit fairly high level, but anyone is always welcome to join in. I think that it has a great atmosphere and there’s never an off night.

It is in a small nook in a very welcoming venue, so yes there is a contingent of regulars who show up every week for years to listen. Some of them drive an hour or more to do so. There is a tenor, yes, but he’s not screechy. Irish Music magazine said about this singer, “Nobody sings like this, and nobody sounds like this. The voice never, ever grates. The range is stunning. The interpretation is perfect. This is the whole complete deal wrapped up in one voice, one talent.”

I think that rather than being a tourist trap, this session has a great environment to play and listen. Beyond being welcoming, the music is top notch. It is pretty common to have a few regular joe musicians and then a lineup of professional, world famous musicians having a blast. This is the kind of session that locals frequent and that professionals come in on their night off to relax.

But then again, my opinion may be suspect, as I am definitely one of those unemployable twenty-something "virtuosi." Emphasis on the air quotes, 😉.

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Re: Galway Arms

I just had the chance this past Tuesday (2/20/2018) to check out the Tuesday night session at the Galway Arms. It started around 8:00, I believe. There was a fiddler, a tin whistle player, two flautists, someone shredding the uilleann pipes, a mandolin player, a guitar player, and a banjo. And of course, multiple people had more than one instrument - there was a four-string banjo (I think the main one was five-string). The players seemed to know each other, and passed their instruments around to each other. I was told some of the musicians had been in (are in?) Gaelic Storm, the group that played the tunes in the movie The Titanic. I’m not super-familiar with that movie, but I recall a fun dance scene early in the music with traditional music.

There were some songs - no mics, which I hadn’t experienced before (I’m new to sessions), and which was very nice to hear. They broke up around 11:00 or so, with a couple players lingering and showing each other tunes and/or playing quietly with each other. I spoke to the fiddle player, and she said the sessions are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, with Sunday being a more formal session. She was very friendly (even gave me a CD of her solo work), as were the other musicians I talked to. I got the feeling that you’d want to be pretty solid on your tunes to play in this session, but they did encourage me to come play with them, despite my being up-front about my skill level. Unfortunately, I had no instrument and flew back home the next day, so I couldn’t oblige.

There seemed to be a couple people younger than 30 (including the violinist with whom I spoke), but they were all friendly. The guy I was sitting next to was friendly and we talked about the session a bit, but he didn’t bloviate or attach himself to my neck and drink my blood or attempt any other parasitical type of activity.

It was very nice to be able to hang out and listen to tunes (and note the variations, in the few I know, between how they play them at my local vs. how they play it there) after a week spent in the musical desert that is my home town.

Re: Galway Arms

I’m happy to say that this session is still going strong since I first posted about it 15 years ago (eesh, does time fly!)