It’s hard to address the chicago session scene without mentioning the Abbey. In days gone by, the Abbey used to be the hot spot where the likes of Liz Caroll, Martin Hayes, Larry Nugent, Jimmy Keane and other irish music rock stars used to converge for some mighty sessions. Nowadays, The Abbey session is far less star struck, although bigs do show up from time to time. It is a solid session, in any case, run by a fine fiddler by the name of John Daly. Starts at 9:00 pm and goes till midnight.
I attended this session on a recent visit to Chicago. It was great. John Daly also played the box, and quite well. Based on that one session, I’d say the level of the musicans is very high - way too high for me to participate. It was a nice small group (started around 5 or 6 and grew to a max of 9) and they went rather fast, although not at an unseemly pace. This is one that I plan on attending often, but more to listen and learn than to play (for about, oh say, 5 or 10 more years).
I had the absolute pleasure of attending this session last night—as a listener only! Just as the chicago fiddler said, the level of musicianship is very high. John Daly is as good as Martin Hayes in my opinion (we had just come from the MH/DC concert).
And brothers Sean (on tin whistle) and bodhran, and Kieran on flute, fiddle, and pipes said they have been playing for 20 years—they must have started very young—and they sound like they’ve been playing for 20 years, too. Phenomenal.
That would have been Kieran and Sean O’Hare, and yes they did start young.
Chicago’s longest running session hosted by Laurence Nugent
Usually starts at 6pm. (call ahead)
This is a Chicago treasure. Fantastic tunes and great craic at The Abbey session. It is run by Laurence Nugent, a stupendous musician and welcoming host.
Re: The Abbey Pub
The Abby session no longer exists. The Abby is closed due to a fire. There is no information regarding any future plans for the Abby.