The tour meets in Temple Bar and visits a rotating lineup of pubs in and around Temple Bar. It is led by another rotating lineup of local trad musicians, with special emphasis on audience education and participation.
Irish traditional (trad) music is the romantic music the world associates so strongly with Ireland. We imagine dimly-lit pubs with wooden tables, tweed-capped men dancing with green-clad ladies with long red hair, and a small group of musicians playing tin whistles, banjos, and bodhran, a traditional Irish hand drum.
Sadly, that Ireland doesn't exist in Dublin, or if it does, they've hidden it very well and don't want long-term tourists like us to find it. That isn't to say that trad music can't be found in Dublin, far from it, in fact. Many Temple Bar and surrounding City Centre pubs have trad music all day and all night, just replace the tweed-caps and green dresses with English stag and hen parties, Brazilian backpackers, European weekenders, and Americans with huge green shamrock hats. Pubs offering trad music advertise it with gaudy signs and outdoor speakers pumping out a live broadcast of the music inside. Standing in Temple Bar, one can sometimes hear three or more different versions of The Rocky Road to Dublin pumping from pubs competing for business. As far as I know (and please correct me if I'm wrong!) most of the trad music scene exists exclusively for the tourists. Irish people do still maintain a connection to the music of their heritage, but we haven't yet found the nightly sessions.
...But that isn't really all bad. Visitors to Dublin can get exactly the experience they imagined when they arrive. The shows are carefully engineered for English-speaking visitors, and the pubs and players know how to work a foreign crowd. I saw a poster outside of City Centre looking for a trad musician for a group.
"...Must be able to play all the standards, at least two trad instruments, and know how to engage a crowd of drunk Americans."The trad music scene in much of Dublin City Centre is a very well done fairytale, just like a trip to Disney World. Nothing is real, but it sure is a good time.
How was that Musical Pub Crawl? It was, as advertised, a fun night out for tourists. We were still relatively fresh to Dublin, so our tourist card hadn't quite expired. The musicians described each of the instruments and song forms they played. They told stories about the songs and musical traditions of pub music, and performed a song in the Irish language. We've seen other (free) Temple Bar trad shows, and they gear more to playing the same small lineup of internationally known songs like the aforementioned Road to Dublin and Whiskey in the Jar with increasing crowd work with exaggerated rural Irish accents as the night goes on...
"So 'den, where ye from d'ere? Jairmany? Well, we all know de Jairmans don't know nuttin' about drinkin', don' dwe?"Bottom line on the Musical Pub Crawl, check it out if you can spare the money and the time. The cost of the booking only covers the show, not the drinks at each pub you visit. Check out their website for booking details and schedule.
|Free Music and Irish Breakfast? Must be Temple Bar!|