Monday, December 19, 2016

Slow Session Cancelled for December 2016

Thank you, friends, for a wonderful year of music. I've so enjoyed sharing tunes and time with you all. I look forward to continuing to play tunes with you in 2017. I wish you the very best holidays and a very, very Happy New Year for 2017.



Saturday, December 3, 2016

Conradh na Gaeilge Launch Starts at 3 PM: Slow Session at Celtic Hall Saturday, Dec. 3 at 4 PM!

Hi, gang,

I'd like to invite my slow session friends to join in a celebration of Irish culture on Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 3:00 PM at the Celtic Hall (430 New Karner Rd, Albany, NY 12205) for the official launch of a new chapter of Conradh na Gaeilge. Refreshments will be served; pints available for a nominal fee.

There's a slow session and a regular speed session scheduled at today's festivities. The slow session starts at 4:00 PM, and will morph into a regular speed session at some point, depending on who shows up.

It's free, and it will be fun! Come on by!


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

November Slow Session Wednesday, Nov. 16

Let's Squirrel Away Some Tunes!

The leaves are down...time to make plans for winter!
It's time to start thinking about how we'll spend those long winter nights - what better way than to play tunes! Join me tomorrow for a review of the tunes for the 2016 Fall semester, and maybe a few out of our hats, if we feel so inclined!

So, slow session at Old Songs in Voorheesville, NY at 7 PM on Wednesday, November 16, 2016. $4 for heat/lights/copies. Join me for tunes!

Now, read on for other news...


Conradh na Gaeilge

I'd like to invite my slow session friends to join in a celebration of Irish culture on Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 3 PM at the Celtic Hall (430 New Karner Rd, Albany, NY 12205) for the official launch of a new chapter of Conradh na Gaeilge. I am hoping to organize a slow session at the event for that day - I'll keep you posted on developments!

This message from the membership of this new branch: 

"We Capital District students of Irish, who meet at Celtic Hall in Colonie, NY, are excited to announce the Official Launch of a new branch of Conradh na Gaeilge to promote Irish language learning in our region.  Our new branch, supported by Capital District Celtic Cultural Association, is called Cumar an Dá Uisce, which means "Meeting of the Two Waters," to honor our location where the Mohawk and Hudson rivers meet, but also to celebrate the confluence of Irish and American history and culture in our region.  

To celebrate the Official Launch, we will be honored with a visit by Cuan O’ Seireadáin, Conradh na Gaeilge representative from Ireland, to conduct a Community Engagement Workshop about growing Irish language culture.  The event will take place at Celtic Hall on Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 3pm.

The workshop is geared toward Irish cultural groups in the region with a focus on:
  • Publicity: how to use social media and local media to promote the Irish language
  • Education: how to arrange Irish classes, find teachers, and find teaching resources.
  • Funding: How to fund and form Irish centers and how to run Irish language events.
  • Social Events: How to organize Irish language activities/events, such as 1. Family Fun Days 2. Conversation circles 3. Keynote Speakers and Academic Conferences 4. Sports Clubs such as GAA, through Irish language 5. Irish Language Radio Programs 6. Irish Language Events in Ireland
  • Advocacy: How to run a campaign for Irish language rights 
  • Irish language scheme: How to ensure continuous growth and development for local Irish language users. 

Of course, our focus is on promotion of the language, but this workshop will be useful for other types of cultural organizations, and therefore we extend an invitation to regional members of AOH, CCE and other Irish cultural groups to attend the event.  If you would be interested in contributing to the event with a musical session or hospitality, we would be delighted to talk to you about how to involve your group in the event."

Feel free to contact John Conway directly or reach out to me and I will put you in touch with John.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fall Fiddlin' is Fun! Come play some Irish tunes with us...

October Slow Session Wed. Oct. 19!

The only thing better than a cat on the lap
is a fiddle in the hand!
Hey, gang! It's that time again...Pumpkins, Presidential Debates...Slow Session! Yay!

Come hang out at Old Songs on Wednesday evening, October 19 from 7:30-9:00 p.m. and play some tunes. If you click this link [Google Drive Folder of Tunes from All Seasonsand choose the Fall 2016 folder, you can get all the tunes for this semester. 

The gang gave me a new one from Comhaltas, The Deer's March, which I scanned and included in the folder. We'll be playing that this time.

Guitar/Bouzouki players: There are chords on most of the tunes for the Fall semester now, including this new one. 

I look forward to seeing everybody! Since many of you go to Colleen's session, we'll be happy to work on any of the tunes from that session that you have music for. Just bring it along and I'll make copies!

See you Wednesday! - Hilary

p.s. I'm not sure whether we'll be upstairs or down - George Wilson's fiddle classes will be meeting at the same time, so if you don't see me upstairs, try downstairs.

REMINDER: Tunes for Fall 2016 are:

  1. Special Tune: Kinnegad Slashers (jig)
  2. Reels: Imelda Roland's/Cregg's Pipes, Cooley's/Farewell to Connaught
  3. Jigs: Butcher's March/Moloney's Wife, Carraroe/Rambling Pitchfork
  4. Slow Tune: Lord Inchiquin
  5. Waltz: Maguire and Paterson's

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Slow Session on FOURTH Wednesday in September

Hi, Friends,

Our monthly slow session will be held on the fourth Wednesday of September due to conflicts in my schedule.

I'm particularly excited to share Roscommon flute player Mike McHale's versions of Imelda Roland's and Cregg's Pipes - while you can find those tunes in the Comhaltas 4 book, the versions are different. Kinnegad Slashers is a fun three part jig - you can find it on, but I have a version with chords that I'll be sending out this week. Maguire and Paterson's is a very simple, but beautiful, waltz that I first heard played by the late Kitty Hayes and the very much alive Eoin O'Neill (of Clare FM fame). Kitty was fine old style concertina player. I was lucky to have heard her in person before she passed away. She has a legacy of some great music and two fine albums. One was recorded by Eoin O'Neill and Quentin Cooper in her kitchen, I believe. The other features herself and the outstanding piper and photographer Peter Laban ("They'll be Good Yet").

As to the other tunes, Maloney's Wife is from players in Boston. Carraroe is a Tulla Ceili Band tune. The version of Butcher's March can be found in Comhaltas 1, but we have the ABC from fiddler Willie Kelly. The Rambling Pitchfork can also be found in Comhaltas 1, and definitely in the Mally's books, and on It is a great standard jig that you probably all already know. Lord Inchiquin is an O'Carolan, and we have a very straight version. I'll give you some additional ornamental notes as well.

So look here in a day or two for links to the music I keep promising. I'm really good at procrastinating because I have versions of tunes that require some transcribing...

Anyway, here's a straightforward view of the learning tune list for Fall 2016:

REMINDER: Tunes for Fall 2016 are:

  1. Special Tune: Kinnegad Slashers (jig)
  2. Reels: Imelda Roland's/Cregg's Pipes
  3. Jigs: Butcher's March/Moloney's Wife, Carraroe/Rambling Pitchfork
  4. Slow Tune: Lord Inchiquin
  5. Waltz: Maguire and Paterson's

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Slow Session Resumes in Fall

Dear Friends,

Pat, Perry and Eoghan enjoy some gelato in the early summer heat!
The highlight of my summer so far has been a trip to the southeastern U.S. that included lovely tunes and friends in the D.C. area, a great visit in the countryside around Chapel Hill, N.C. and to the mountains of western North Carolina where we met friends and made new ones from all over the south. The music was brilliant, and the craic was grand!

The Old Songs Festival was one of the best ever in my opinion. OK, maybe because I actually heard some music this time... I'm trying to remember to "stop and smell the roses" these days.

Anyway, now to the important news: Slow Session will resume in the Fall. I was hoping I'd be able to make time to get together with you all this summer, but honestly, I have some things in my schedule that are absolutely non-negotiable and they fall in the evenings.

So, as mentioned in an email (and corrected once I revisited the blog!), the Tunes for Summer Learning will be:
Reels: Imelda Roland's/Cregg's Pipes
Jigs: Butcher's March/Moloney's Wife, Carraroe/Rambling Pitchfork
special bonus jig: Kinnegad Slashers
Slow Tune: Lord Inchiquin
Waltz: Maguire and Patterson's

I'm working on that music as we speak. Feel free to find versions to get yourself started, and I'll get you my versions/ABCs/Sound Files asap.

Enjoy Your Summer,


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Summer Tune List Selected

There's lots to report after tonight's Slow Session.

As you know, I am not an accompanist, and I am generally reluctant to put  chords on the music. Also, I've been giving out spots and not ABC for the most part. We found out tonight that Nancy has been gathering chords for the music, not just for our session but for a wide range of genres that she plays. It turns out that Paul has been taking her information and creating ABC files and turning them into PDFs.

This is great news for those who don't learn by reading music or who want to work on accompaniment but aren't sure what the chords are. A huge thanks goes to Nancy and Paul for gathering the materials. Also to Gary, Nancy and Paul for seemingly always having sheet music to everything.

Here's what we worked on: Miller of Droghan, Joe Bane's Schottische (or Barndance as we have it), Anne Walshe's Reel, our Jig set (Hole in the Hedge/Seamus Cooley's/Kerfunten), Gentle Maiden waltz, the polkas from last year (Egan's-Kerry Polka/Maids of Ardagh/Knocknaboul #2 - 3 part), and a new/old set of reels (Silver Spear/Merry Blacksmith/Sally Garden).

There was a lot of discussion tonight, which is always enjoyable. Folks talking about chords, approaches to accompaniment, discussion different tunes, etc. After we played our sets, we discussed the tunes that we are going to learn/work on for this summer. We also discussed meeting at John's house during the summer. The schedule has to be finalized, so we will release dates and information shortly.

We also got feedback that a second monthly slow session at John's would be welcome. John is checking to see if the scheduling works. Perhaps it will be on a different day of the week? That will be determined and the second monthly session date will begin in the fall.

OK, now for the fun part...TUNES! Here's what we've picked for our summer learning list:

Jigs: Carraroe (also called The Portrowe by Martin Mulvihill) followed by Rambling Pitchfork
also Butcher's March and Moloney's Wife
Reels: Imelda Roland's/Gregg's Pipes
Slow Tune: Lord Inchiquin

Tune sheets, ABCs and sound files to go up soon.

By the way, if folks are interested in gathering somewhere for a slow session down in East Durham, the Wednesday would be a great day to do it - Pauline Conneely is holding a CD launch party down there somewhere on the Wednesday evening, and I'm hoping to get to it. Perhaps Colleen O'Sullivan would be interested in co-hosting a slow session that evening at The Rose Motel and we could do a potluck or something and all go the concert together.

Thanks very much for a lovely evening, everybody! I'm looking forward to next month already.



Tuesday, June 14, 2016

NOTE: June Slow Session in East Greenbush

Pat O'Connor and Eoghan O'Sullivan live in Amherst, MA
I just got back from being out on the road with my friends and musical spirit guides Pat and Eoghan.The lads played all up and down the east coast, and were blown away by the talent they met and the beautiful music they heard in sessions. They were especially impressed with how nice a session there was after their concert at John and Michelle's house.

I hope you can join our Slow Session at John Conway's house tomorrow night, Wed., June 15 from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. to dive deep into our great learning tunes together. FREE. 5 Honey B Lane, East Greenbush,NY. (Using a mapping or navigation app on your phone? Make sure you type in "Honey B" and not Honey "Bee".) Questions? 518-424-8701.

We will take July and August off, just like Comhaltas. Speaking of the Albany CCE, on Sunday, June 19 a traditional Irish music session will be held at the Capital District Irish American Association, 375 Ontario St., Albany, NY 12208 (near corner of Ontario and Mercer Streets, parking lot entrance is on Mercer) -- Learning session at 2:30 pm followed by regular session at 3:30 pm.  Sessions occur every 3rd Sunday of the month except in July & August. Admission is Free.

All the Best,


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hope You'll Join Me...

Feel like having some tunes?

Good. Me too! See you Wednesday evening, May 17, 2016 from 7:30-9 PM. We'll work on the Spring learning tunes, and our new tunes, The Miller of Drohan and Anne Walshe's Reel, plus Gentle Maiden.

I'm having so much fun with you guys - anyone interested in diving deep into Irish trad tunes and playing slowly is more than welcome to join us!

See you then,


p.s. NEW SESSION STARTING UP: Albany CCE Sean O'Riada Chapter is starting a new Fourth Sunday session at O'Slattery's Pub & Restaurant in Main Square on Delaware Avenue in Delmar, NY. Stay tuned to their website ( for details in the future.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hard to Believe Summer is Nearly Here!

Tunes at the End of the Rainbow...

Looking for the Pot of Gold in Voorheesville!

Last night, Eric and I were headed over to Old Songs for a concert, and on our way, we were stalked by a happy rainbow...

We knew that we'd find gold in Voorheesville at the end of the rainbow - John Roberts and performing partner singer Debra Cowan were taking the stage after John's year long convalescence. The gold was truly there - John is BACK! It was a great show and we're so happy he's healthy and doing well again.

Msgr. Charlie Coen, Noel Higgins, Dave Smith and Amy Schoch all came out from the Irish community to support John. It was wonderful to see our friends there as well.

I hope you'll come back to Voorheesville (Slow Session Details) this Wednesday, May 18, 2016 to have a few slow tunes and bask in the gold that is Old Songs! What a great resource for folk and traditional music right here in our area.

Remember, the Old Songs Festival (June 24-26) features folk music from all over the world, and this year, we have some stellar Irish musicians as well. Check out the lineup at Also, in case you didn't know, the instructors list is up for Catskills Irish Arts Week (July 11-14). Finally, for those who are interested in a slightly different lineup and are willing to travel a bit further afield, Baltimore's MAD Week (July 17-22) might be just the ticket! One of our sessioneers is planning to go and is willing to carpool. Let me know if you'd like to be connected up!

Sign up for our newsletter in the sidebar, and come this Wednesday, May 18 to the session and get ready for summer!



Thursday, April 21, 2016

Megaband Starting Up on May 1!

Below is a message that Nancy forwarded to me about Megaband that a friend of hers in the Contra Tunes old songs group sent her.  It gives the rehearsal schedule, fee, etc. Past members have said the music instruction and experience they get is very good. It is basically contra tunes music, out of the Portland I and II books, Fiddlers Fakebook, etc.  Some are Irish, some are old-time, etc.  


Welcome to the Megaband!
We had a great info and jam session on April 2 and we’re raring to go.
Future rehearsals are scheduled at the Old Songs building in Voorheesville as follows:
Sunday May 13-6 pm
Monday May 237-9 pm
Sunday June 53-6 pm
Sunday July 33-6 pm
Sunday July 173-6 pm
Sunday July 313-6 pm
Sunday August 73-6 pm
Sunday August 213-6 pm
Other rehearsals may be scheduled. Try to attend as many as you can.
George Wilson and David Kaynor will be leading rehearsals. 
The May 1 rehearsal is open to all, without commitment, so if you are undecided about joining Megaband, feel free to attend and try it out. Bring friends!
Dues for the band are $40, which should be paid before or at the May 23 rehearsal. Checks payable to Dance Flurry Organization. This money will go towards payment for the rehearsal space and stipends for the leaders (George and David). The Dance Flurry Organization will make up any shortfall.
Our first gig is September 11 at the Buhrmaster Barn dance in Colonie. Dance starts at 6, and there is a potluck preceding.
We are hoping to have other gigs in the 2016-2017 season. Maybe even at the Flurry!
A preliminary list of Megaband tunes will be sent out shortly.

Free Reading/Screening of hit Irish film BROOKLYN 4/29

Mark Koplik of UAlbany Writers Institute, on behalf of William Kennedy, would like to invite you and all members of the Capital Region’s Irish American community to their TWO free events with Colm Toibin,  author of Brooklyn, the basis of the hit film.

Colm ToibinColm Tóibín, Irish fiction and nonfiction writer and journalist
April 29 (Friday) Reading — 4:15 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center,  UAlbany Uptown Campus, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany

April 29 (Friday) Film screening followed by Author Q&A — 7 p.m., Page Hall, UAlbany Downtown Campus, 135 Western Ave.

Colm Tóibín is one of Ireland’s foremost living novelists and journalists. His novels include The Master (2004), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and The Blackwater Lightship (1999) and The Testament of Mary (2012), both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His newest novel is Nora Webster (2014), which Darin Strauss in the Los Angeles Times said “may actually be a perfect work of fiction...There is no pyrotechny in the writing – just compassion and shrewd insight…which is where Tóibín’s brilliance lies.”

BrooklynFilm screening of BROOKLYN with commentary by Colm Tóibín — Directed by John Crowley (Ireland/UK, 2015, 111 minutes, color) Starring Saoirse Ronan, 
Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson

BROOKLYN, a hit independent film based on Colm Tóibín’s 2009 same-titled novel, tells the tale of a young Irish woman who emigrates to Brooklyn, where she must choose between two countries and her life in each. The Hollywood Reporter said, “Tóibín’s superior novel...has  been turned into a beautiful and moving film.” The film stars Saoirse Ronan, whose performance in BROOKLYN earned her a 2016 Screen Actors Guild nomination for best female actor in a leading role.

Sponsored in association with Albany Pro Musica’s City of Immigrants Concert, a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of the Capital Region. See for additional information.

More about Colm Toibin:

For more information contact the Writers Institute at 518 442 5620 or visit us online at

Digging in with the Gang

Once again, you remain anonymous...

gravatar image We were having so much fun working on our tunes that I forgot to take a photo of you! Thank you so much for coming out to work on the tunes. Welcome to our new friend Charlotte and her mom Jeanmarie! We enjoyed having you there - hope to see you in May!

As to last night's fun? We played Gentle Maiden. I guess I ought to put a sound clip of that up, eh? Then we went over Joe Bane's Barndance. I think we need to pick that one apart a bit. We'll plan on that for next month. Then we went over our set of jigs and our reels (thank you Paul for demonstration the difference between hornpipes and reels!). Patrick sent these YouTube links for the set of jigs: this by Martin Hayes:; and this link I sent you before by the Tulla Ceili Band:

Don't you  think it really  helped to dig deep into Joe Bane's Reel last night? It's such a fun tune, but it doesn't sound anything like it looks on the page, does it?

Even though Gentle Maiden isn't really a new tune to the session repertoire, it's new to almost all of us at the session these days. I'm glad we went over it - if you're curious, you can find the sheet music in the dropbox/google drive folders. We didn't get to our new tunes, so we'll be working on those for next month: the Miller of Dronagh and Anne Walshe's Reel. I'll be posting the sheet music and sound clips later today. 
Speaking of the mysterious Anne Walshe, I did a little more poking around, and I found this about herself: Apparently the tune was recorded on a 1960 Leitrim Ceili Band album that includes Joe Burke on accordion and the amazing Paddy Carty on flute (I'll try to find a clip of Paddy - his playing is just lovely). ( Of course, no one has posted the tune yet - I will be doing that over the weekend in the hopes that someone will be able to shed some light on its origins.

Some of you have expressed interest in scheduling an additional monthly session to get together to play tunes and keep the momentum going. I'll be sending out a survey shortly to gather information - join the Email List if you are interested in being a part of the extra session group. And always remember that the Comhaltas Slow Session on the third Sunday is a great option for getting new tunes, having fun playing together and meeting great people. ( for info.)

Keep on playing the tunes! Enjoy the sunshine! See you soon,


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Who is Anne Walshe?

I'm pretty sure she's not St. Anne...
The Red Fox and the Grey Goose All Across His Back...
(from The Bestiary of Anne Walshe (Copenhagen, Kongelige
Bibliotek Gl. kgl. Saml. 1633 4˚) circle 1400-25)
And she probably isn't the Anne Walshe of the medieval "Bestiary of Anne Walshe", but maybe...? I looked high and low for information on where the tune came from, but can't find anything. Do you know? Let me know in the comments below,

or come tonight and tell us in person!

That's right - it's Slow Session time again at Old Songs. Wednesday evening, April 20th, from 7:30-9:00 p.m., Old Songs will be transformed into a little Irish community hall. We'll be sharing tunes and chat.  I look forward to hearing about what you've been up to since last month, and to playing our  Spring tunes we've been working on.

If we have new visitors tonight, we'll pick tunes off of the CCE lists (see the tunes pages for info) to start the evening, and then (or if you'd rather), we'll get right into working on our learning tunes for Spring 2016.

See you tonight!


Friday, March 18, 2016

Interesting Article

Hadn't thought about the origins of the Irish in a while...

This is an interesting article from the Daily Gazette. I haven't really had time to digest it yet, but I thought you might like to read it for yourself. Thank you Nancy for sharing!



Thank You!

Thank you to those who came out to the Curragh gig yesterday!

Curragh & Friends at The Hangar in Troy, NY
Thanks so much to all our friends who came to see the band play at The Hangar. It was our first outing on St. Patrick's Day in years as Curragh. Our good friend Ray Wall from Broken String Band came up at the end to help us out with our closing set. 

Kind of cool because Broken String Band will be performing a set at Caffe Lena's folkathon on April 29, followed by the Saratoga Pan-Celtic Players leading a trad session! Hope you can make it to that.

And by the way, I'm hoping all our other musician friends had good gigs...

Maybe we'll see some of you tonight at Lawson & Doyle's participation in the Performance School of the Arts open house tonight at 1505 Route 9, Clifton Park, NY 12065 from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. (Free. Open to the public).


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day - Tunes for April, Upcoming CCE Session and more!

Always fun when the gang shows up...

There's something really ideal about a small group of musicians poring over some tunes, thinking about tunes for next time, chatting about vacations and travel and musical pursuits. It's really fun! Join us in April for more of the same - a nice gathering of good people playing tunes and enjoying one another's company. If you are new to your instrument, or new to Irish music, this is a friendly place to start building your repertoire, to learn some new techniques, a friendly forum for the music. Everyone is welcome!

This month, we went over all of our Spring 2016 Tunes, plus we played some tunes off of the current CCE slow session list. Paul and Gary gave us two new tunes, Hilary gave us two new tunes, and Nancy told us the tunes that her group added to their set list for their performance at the Soul Cafe at Albany's Westminster Presbyterian Church on March 28, 2016. 

Next Old Songs Irish Slow Session is Wed., April 20th, 2016

At the next session, we'll be reviewing our Spring 2016 Tunes:
The Hole in the Hedge/Seamus Cooley's/Kerfunten Jig
 Joe Bane's Barndance in G
Drunken Landlady/Joe Bane's Reel

And we'll be working on some tunes from the CCE session list:

Swallowtail Jig
Father O'Flynn's (Top of Cork Road)
Kesh Jig
Sean Bui Jig
The Lilting Fisherman Jig
Anne Walsh's Reel

Sound files and sheet music for these new tunes will be added to the folder - but not tonight! It's 12:02 am and I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow. After all, it's Saint Patrick's Day!

There's a binder now! 

Hey, gang - remember a couple of posts ago when I said I would create a binder of tunes? Well, I've grabbed sheet music for most of the tunes on the new CCE list, and gradually those tunes will be added to the dropbox folder for your perusal. Also I'll be recording and adding sound files. The binder will travel with me to the slow session, so if we need to look at the spots for tunes, we've got 'em.  Many thanks to Gary and Paul for hanging on to all the sheet music from both sessions over the years.

Next Comhaltas Session is this Sunday, March 20th, 2016 at 2:30 p.m.!

At the Capital District Irish American Association (formerly known as the Albany Hibernian Hall)  - 375 Ontario Street, Albany, NY  12208

It's right on the heels of the Old Songs Slow Session! Is that a mistake?

Nope! Not at all! Here's the cool thing about the way our sessions are scheduled: Because ours is a mere five days before the Comhaltas session, you can come to our session and break down the tunes, play them slowly, get comfortable with them, really dig in and work on them. And then you can go the Comhaltas Session and play the tunes - At the CCE Session, everyone starts a tune or a set of tunes. Our session is your chance to get comfy playing some tunes - we're sharing the list, so you can ask us to work on something you want to play at that session...

You will be most welcome in April! Plan to come and join us - we have such a great time!

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! No matter what, make sure you take a minute to appreciate what you're doing, who you're with, and where you're headed. Make it great!

See you tomorrow at The Hangar at the Ale House in Troy? 4-7 p.m.! Or if you're in Albany, go and see Toss the Feathers at The Olde English from 4-7 p.m.. Or in Saratoga? See the Whiskey Peddlers at Powers Inn & Pub from 6-9 p.m.!

Don't believe what they say on the radio - there's PLENTY OF GREAT IRISH  MUSIC going on in the Capital Region on St. Patrick's Day! All you have to do is look around!

See you on the other side of the rainbow,


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

You've been asking for sound files...

Sound Files...Sheet Music...Woo-Hoo!

Here they are! Use these for Wed., March 16

Ok, gang - I just recorded sound files for the Spring 2016 tunes and the Fall 2015 tunes:

Also, get the CCE Tune List: - Let's use this list to choose from in Round Robin! 

I really am excited to see everyone tomorrow!


Saturday, March 12, 2016

St. Patrick's Day is do you get ready?

At the Parade with Family - Perfect!
(This is my awesome step-son with one of his
16-week old twins and another one of his
kids hiding behind him - you can see her green
garb! They always dress just right!)

There was a parade. Did you go?

I've never been one for parades. I can remember going down to the Port of Albany with my neighbors to see the circus train arrive. That was cool and weird and definitely not a fancy-pants parade. But a regular ole' stand-around-in-the-rain-getting-cold-and-watching-guys-in-skirts-walk-by type of parade? Nah. No thanks... I also can't stand costumed characters or theme parks... oops, that's for another blog, I think.

Anyway, our kids and their kids always go to the St. Patrick's Day parade, and they love it! For me, this day is the start of the season, and I'm really excited about sharing the music with the rest of the world and not just us geeky, traddie secret club members...

Did you go see Altan at the Troy Music Hall a couple of weeks ago? Did you watch the documentary Nancy told us about on Thursday? Did you go to the sold out Goitse concert at Old Songs on Friday? How are you getting primed for St. Patrick's Day?

There's an Old Songs Irish Slow Session this week - Will you come?

I thought I'd remind you quickly that there is our regular slow session on Wednesday, March 16 from 7:30-9:00 p.m.. And I thought you might like the tunes again. I've discovered that using the Google Drive is a huge pain in the butt. It keeps closing on you after you get each file. How annoying is that? So, here's a link to my dropbox folder specially for the 2016 tunes. I'll add more stuff shortly, but that'll get you the tunes we're going to play this time. 

Also, I've got an invitation for you! Join us for a musical open house in Clifton Park!

On Friday evening, March 18 at 7:30 pm, Lawson & Doyle will be performing at the Performance School of the Arts in Clifton Park. It's an open house evening where we do a little concert and then split up and everyone can try our different instruments, and we end the evening with a bit of a session. We'll be playing these tunes, plus a few from last year and maybe we can do a bit of round robin if it looks promising. I'd love for you all to join us to participate in the evening and take part in the session! Plus feel free to bring your kids, grandkids, friends, etc. Everyone is welcome and it's a wonderful family friendly place with some great people. Hope to see you there!

And a little announcement about our live music...

Curragh & Friends will be playing at The Hangar at The Ale House in Troy

photo of Curragh, a traditional Irish music band from the Capital Region of NYS

( on St. Patrick's Day, Thursday, March 17, 2016 from 4-7 pm. Not sure yet if there's a cover charge, but the foods great, the drinks are great and the staff is super friendly. The Hangar is a beautiful space and we're looking forward to being there playing tunes and singing songs with the gang plus our great friend George Ward!

OK, that's it for now! Have a great weekend, and don't forget to turn your clocks forward on Sunday, March 13! Bye for now...


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Irish cultural documentary on WMHT March 10

Hi, friends! I want to thank Nancy for letting us all know about an upcoming event of interest for those of us in the Irish music world. Here's what she says,

An Irish music friend told me about the below show about the Irish area in the Catskills.   Note that this documentary movie is playing on WMHT.  The web page says something about Feb 22, but its going to be [aired] on Thursday, March 10 at 7:30 pm.  I assume they will talk about the Catskills Irish Arts Week also.

I do indeed believe they interviewed folks at and about the Irish Catsklls and Irish Arts Week!

Read the article published in the Boston Irish Reporter

Thanks again, Nancy! If anybody else has info about upcoming events, concerts, or gigs, let me know at, and I'll share!



Monday, February 22, 2016

Links to Video

Where's the video?

Well, it turns out I never put the video links here on the blog. So... here they are:
  1. Special Tune: Joe Bane's Barndance (in A on the sheet music, and then we'll try learning it by ear in G). Here's three versions of the tune in G - Here's a whistle tutorial of it in G in a slightly different setting from the sheet music. And here it is again in G by the Charm City Junction! (They'll be at the Old Songs Festival this year!). And finally by Jack Talty and Cormac Begley.
  1. Jigs: The Hole in the Hedge/Seamus Cooley's/The Kerfunten (Jigs from the playing of the Tulla Ceili Band, Co. Clare)
Unfortunately, at the moment, I don't have a sound file or video file for the set of Drunken Landlady/Joe Bane's Reel. That will be posted tomorrow.

Have a great day!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Yep. I arrived five minutes late. As usual. But this time...

I saw only one car in the lot! Where were you, lads?!

I pulled into the lot, and there was one lone car. And one lone guy sitting in the car. So...

Tunes for Two...and Two for Tunes!
John and I went inside. But first I got coffee across the street. It's nice when the "whole group" can just walk across to Stewart's and grab a cuppa.

Anyway, I figured if anyone else came late, we'd be there, so we just started looking at the new lists of tunes I put up, and poking around on my tablet at the new Mailchimp reminder I sent out yesterday. Sign up for our Newsletter Did you all see it? I pestered the crap out of everybody this month, so there's no excuse for you not to have seen the email. And by the way, I can NOT believe that none of you even clicked on a single video link. 

What do you think those things are there for, anyway?

Because no one else came, John got a 90 minute $4 private lesson. You guys gave him this awesome gift. You're so nice...

Yep. You sure did! 90 minutes of relaxed one-on-one tune time. It was great! But we did miss you. We really did. Even though you weren't there, we went over Joe Bane's reel. Then we worked on Drunken Landlady. [Get the M4A here] Then we reviewed Joe Bane's barndance, which we've been working on together for the past few weeks. (By the way, it's Joe BANN, not Joe Bain. Thanks!) Good stuff. I've uploaded the mp4s for all three tunes. Tomorrow I should have the sound files for the jig set. Oh, yeah, Caroline - I found the music again for Gentle Maiden!

I found the music for Gentle Maiden because I went through ALL my music to find the old tune lists from Slow Sessions past...

Gary M. has long been my hero because of his extensive binder of sheet music from our sessions. Patricia Kernan had boxes of binders with sheet music for her jam session at the State Museum. It was great for folks who just happened to show up but didn't know the tunes. Soon, the Slow Session will have reference binders. Yes. You heard me. Do not make me say it again.

But anyway, because while I'd love to move completely away from sheet music, it seems to be the fastest way to get people up to speed because folks come and go. There's just never the same batch of people with the same interests in tunes, so sheet music is the short hand. 

Speaking of short hand - did you notice I included ABCs this time in the tune selection? While they are formatted for a translator, I figured people who don't read sheet music can still use them. I'll be including them from now on for new tunes. It remains to be seen whether I'll get to all the old tunes or not. Still, I think that will be a handy way for people who don't read spots to get the gist of the tunes.

I do expect that this spring will see the creation of an Old Songs Slow Session tunebook - the best of the best, so to speak. Stay tuned for that. That's going to be my Slow Session anniversary present to myself. And you. Of course, it's always about you, my lovely tune-friends!

What tunes will we do next time? The Spring Tunes. The Fall Tunes. Even tunes with spots...

Ahem. Yes, I'm weird. OK, listen, on Wednesday I dug up some old tune lists from past sessions, I mean like TEN YEARS WORTH of tunes! Do you realize the Old Songs Slow Session has been around for TEN YEARS? We should have a class reunion or something. Should we? Anyone want to have a party?

Those tune lists are now up on the Session Tune List 2005-2013 page. While I haven't quite decided what to do with them, I'm going to be doing some formatting on them so they'll be searchable on your desktop (PC users click ctrl+f and then type a tune name in the search box and it'll show you all the instances of the tune name through the years. Mac users. Eh. You're on your own.). Let me know in the comments below what you'd like to see in terms of formatting and useability of those tune lists. I could really use some ideas!

Those tunes, Hilary?

Oh yeah, right! Sorry...sidetracked. Yeah. In March, we'll play some of the tunes from last spring, and all the tunes from last fall, plus work on the new tunes for this year. I'll have those lists on the 2015-2016 Repertoire Page in the next day or so. For the "Round Robin" session portion of the slow session in March, you can now reference and print out Comhaltas Learning Session tune lists - one from 2008, and one from 2016. Also, I've uploaded a pretty comprehensive downloadable Old Songs Slow Session Tune List from 2008, and our 75 Common Session Tunes list for the Capital Region of New York. (That one probably needs to be updated.)

OK, see you next month - Slow Session is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. And keep an eye out for the Slow Sesh March Newsletter at the beginning of the month.

Happy Playing!


Monday, February 15, 2016

New Year, New Challenges! Slow Session at Old Songs Wed., Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m.!

Irish Slow Session Gang, Bhailiu, at the Old Songs Sampler, Jan. 2016!

Howdy, lads!

We had a successful Fall - learned some great tunes and rocked the house. We don't have plans to do that this Spring, although anyone who wants to might join us to play at either Old Songs Open Mic or put in for a slot in the Old Songs Festival Open Mic... But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I just wanted to say that we'll be meeting this Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 7:30 PM at Old Songs for a slow session. We will be going over some new tunes, the old tunes from Fall, and even some round robin session-style playing off of the CCE learning session list that Colleen O'Sullivan sent us.

For the moment, here's the spring 2016 tunes, plus the tune list from Colleen: Chords will come shortly, but not tonight. Too damn cold.

So! See you Wednesday evening!



p.s. Starting this month, I'll be using MailChimp to communicate with folks! Sign up today if you're not already on our mailing list: Sign up for our Newsletter