The Band

The Band – guy on far right,  the one to his immediate left, and guy in front of him….

Listened to live traditional Irish music tonight with Nellie, Julie and Caterina in a pub called The Stag’s Head in the Temple Bar area. A local group – 3 men – called The Blaggard’s – guitar, mandolin, tin whistle, bodhran (pronounced bow-rawn, a highly cool drum played with a single rounded end stick) and another kind of boxy drum the guy was sitting on. It was GREAT! Got home LATE via taxi after a stop for salt and vinegar Tayto’s – the official crisp brand of Ireland. Life is good.

The small, low-ceilinged basement room was mostly empty when we arrived around 10pm and by 11pm it was packed and moving. These guys are experts and regulars here according to the bartender who served me up my first and only Guinness here in Ireland…it was a beautiful…I may have cried a little as he served up the perfectly drawn and well-timed pint.

The guitar player’s name was Colin and he’s the dad of the young woman who cut my hair today in the Aveda salon I walked a few miles to find – how about that? When I asked her about the best place for live traditional Irish music, she said, “Well, let me tell you! It’s called The Stag’s Head and my Dad plays the guitar”. She had me at Stag’s Head! That’s the name of the pub in London that my BFF Sue Mahon and Danny O’Neill claimed as their local – the one with the world-renowned musicians, the one that they and their Camden market friends went to after things closed down every Sunday night, the one with the excellent Thai food, the one they considered home… the one I went to a few times the year I was there with Sue (1995) and even took some of my students there the year following…Good times I say!

I hope my friends loved it…I said hello and introduced myself to Colin – happiness all around…got a little choked up when they played Caledonia at my humble request in honor of Sue’s Mama. It is a beautiful song about Scotland but anyone can relate to the lyrics of love and leaving…check out this version by Dougie MacLean (he wrote it in his 20’s at a time he was particularly homesick…)

There was some also some Paul Simon, Johnny Cash..a round of Whiskey in the Jar and Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair plus loads of songs that most of the people there all knew the words to. Most of the night, they were dancing at time times with a pretty high Guinness-fueled level of frenzy and freedom….the real deal.

All in all a lovely evening – when we left long after midnight, things were still rocking…

Have a Nothing New Day! ~Kristin



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