Phase two of the tour saw us down in Greenwich Village, New York City, and what a beautiful part of the city that is! For those of you unfamiliar with ‘the Village’ it’s where a young Bob Dylan checked out The Clancy Brothers in his early days and where artists such as Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor & Jackson Browne could be found playing in their early days too, so it was a big thrill to be playing here as part of our 1st US tour. We played in a place called The Red Lion, which is one of the premier music venues in the Village right now. Again, we had a strong Irish contingent in the crowd and again I caught up with some people I hadn’t seen in years. Our gig was followed by a Doors tribute band called The Soft Parade and those guys took themselves seriously (they certainly looked the part)!
On Friday we headed upstate New York to East Durham (the Catskills area), which had a very strong Irish population for years and still does. We were playing at the Blackthorn Resort for two days at a big biker’s rally. Now to tell you the truth I was slightly apprehensive as to how two guys with only two acoustic guitars were going to keep a bunch of biker’s happy but as it turned out I needn’t have worried.
The biggest problem was trying to get us a suitable time slot to play. There were two young guys doing all sorts of mad jumps, etc. on two ‘dirt bikes’ but they could only do it when the weather conditions were right (not too much wind, etc.) and then just beside where they were doing their thing (which was close to the stage area) was a guy called Rhett Rotten who was doing his Wall of Death thing every hour. Anyway, we got an opening and started belting out our bluesier and rockier numbers, we kept the chat to a minimum and served up quite a powerful set (considering it was only two acoustics). I think what stood to us is the fact that I play very much on the one beat (probably comes from listening to Irish music all my life) and as Danny loves Rory and a lot of British blues he’s quite on the beat too, so there was nothing laid back about our set (unlike some of the other bands who were playing because American drummers play very behind the beat to my ears), so we got’ em where we wanted them fairly fast. Sometimes it was a little difficult to hear ourselves- or know if they could hear us properly – as we had to contend with guys revving their Harleys all the time but it seems we certainly did get our music across to them because as we walked around the grounds later I don’t recall ever having so many people come up to me after a show telling me how much they enjoyed the set and would definitely be checking us out again the following day.
Later that evening we went to the bar area of the resort to check out two bands who were playing – one was a country-rock type band (sorry, can’t remember their name right now) and the other band was a rockabilly band called The Razorbacks Both bands were perfect for the occasion and had the crowd rockin’ and having a good time all evening.
To be honest, the second day was very much a copy of the first day – bikes and bikers everywhere, Rhett doing his thing, the young guys doing their thing and a guy called Mikey MC’ing a variety of biker activities. We did our thing as well and then headed off to eat one of the best Shepherd’s Pie’s I’ve ever eaten. Someone sure knew how to make that old Irish recipe. In fact, the food was excellent for the complete weekend – and plenty of it.
We stayed in the resort for the duration and the whole place kept reminding me of the film set for “Dirty Dancing”. It looked very like the setting for the film and then just today I read in an obituary to Patrick Swayze that that film was indeed filmed in the Catskills area. I never knew that.
After that we had to head over to Boston to play a gig in a place called Bull McCabe’s. What a beautiful drive that was, across upstate New York and on into the state of Massachusetts, with the trees just starting to turn golden and a kaleidoscope of many other colours. Absolutely beautiful.
It was an intimate affair at Bull McCabe’s as it’s a nice little Irish Bar located in Sommerville, a suburb of Boston. Again, the Irish living over there did their bit to support the cause and it was a slightly surreal situation to find myself in a major US city talking about the All-Ireland football final (which had taken place earlier that day) but then again I suppose it shouldn’t have been as Boston has been home to a host of Irish people over the centuries.
That’s it for part two of my report of our US tour and I hope to finish if off in the next section.