A year ago this week, Sean and I were looking forward to our very first St. Patrick’s Day as our brand new Irish duo, Barry’s Crossing. We were very excited to have actually booked three shows for that weekend, including two at our home pub, Barry’s Old School Irish. These held special significance for us; it was like we were giving something back to the pub which helped us get our start only two months before.
We knew full well that playing three shows in two days was going to be fun, but exhausting. As it was, we had to write set lists on the fly as we sped from venue to venue, and do some speedy set-ups. But it was definitely fun, and most certainly exhausting. (Check out the photo from last year of Sean collapsed on the bench at Barry’s after our show.)
We had no idea that our schedule that weekend was a cakewalk compared to what was in store for us this year.
If you count the St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Southeast YMCA two weeks ago, and last Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Dinner at Holy Name of Jesus Church, Sean and I will be playing seven shows this holiday season, including four on the High Holy Weekend itself. They include:
Wednesday March 13: Sticky Lips BBQ, 830 Jefferson Avenue, Henrietta, 8-10 pm
Friday March 15: Barry’s Old School Irish, 2 West Main Street, Webster, 7-11 pm
Saturday March 16: Lovin’ Cup, 300 Park Point Drive, Rochester, 6-8 pm
Sunday March 17: St. Patrick’s Day Party at the Diplomat Party House, 11am – noon
AND the Last Man Standing Show, Barry’s Old School Irish, 10 pm – 2 am
I see more set lists on the fly and speedy set-ups again this year.
But no way are we going to complain. On the contrary, we feel blessed to still be going strong one year later. We’ve added more than a dozen new songs to our repertoire, and a half dozen new instruments to Sean’s menagerie. We’ve performed now at 14 different venues all over the state, and that number is quickly growing. And that’s all thanks to the awesome support we’ve received from our loyal and growing fan base.
So thank you! We hope to see all of you out at one of our shows this weekend. Goodness knows, you’ve got plenty to choose from. (And stay tuned! We may very well be adding another one to the schedule before the end of the week!)
Is everybody ready for the St. Patrick's Day season? If you're like us, March is akin to Christmas. It's a wonderful, but busy and hectic time of year. Within the past few days I have been busy getting our March gigs in order. Some have yet to be finalized, but one thing is for sure- it's gonna be a wild ride! There is a strong chance of us playing 5 shows on St. Patrick's Day weekend alone, with three on Sunday the 17th!!
This past weekend we had a wonderful time at our first appearance at the Shannon Pub in Buffalo.
We were greeted by a great atmosphere, good food and drinks, and some truly magnificent people. The weather kept the faint of heart away, but we were very excited with the people who stayed 'til the bitter end. The picture above shows how excited we were with their enthusiasm at the end of the night. ("One more SET!" Really, folks?) We also know that we have a spoons player for all of our fiddle tunes the next time we're in Buffalo! Thank you so much to our Rochester friends who made the trip! You can check out the video footage HERE. If you were at the show, you may see yourself in it! And you can view some of the pics HERE.
Many thanks to our friend Ben who ran sound for us that evening. There may or may not be some recordings of the show that night... We'll see if any are fit to release at some point in the future.
We are also working on some new t-shirt designs! Wait until you see what's brewing. (That phrase makes me thirsty for some reason.) The hardest part will be picking a design, then waiting for the order to come in! We hope to have them in time for St. Patrick's Day.
Thank you to all the newbies who have liked our FB page. We like you, too! We hope to see many of you in the next few weeks.
-Sarah and Sean
One year ago on January 4th, Sean and I made a very difficult decision. We decided to break away from the Celtic punk rock band we were playing with and go rogue. It was a very difficult decision to make. There were just so many unknowns. What tunes would we play? Would we be able to have a full sound with just two people? Would Sean be able to learn to play fiddle AND sing at the same time? (I could already play piano and sing, no problem.) Would people want to listen to an acoustic Irish duo? Most importantly, what the heck would we call ourselves? (If you've never had to come up with a band name, you have no idea how difficult a task this is.)
One year later, I think I can safely say that we've made a decent go at it. We have gone from knowing only 5 tunes to about 45. We were able to save up enough money to purchase some sweet sound gear, including in-ear monitors. Sean has added even MORE instruments to his stash. (Shocking, I know.) We now have t-shirts and stickers available for purchase. We have a group of people who actually WANT to hear us play and even follow us around to different venues. (That means more to us than you'll ever know!) And we've played in several diverse venues in Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse.
We are so incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported us for this past year. Thank you to the venue owners who support indie musicians. Thank you to the people who are on our e-mail list and who respond with such kind words. Thank you to the friends and family who help lug our gear all over the place. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your support.
We can't wait to see what the new year brings!
Here are a few random odds and ends I have been meaning to write about but just haven't had the chance to lately. Until now...
Recently we had the opportunity to hear one of the best fiddlers I have ever encountered- Eileen Ivers. I'm trying to come up with the words to describe her virtuosic playing, but I lack the poetic vocabulary as well as the technical vocabulary. (Personally,I think Sean should write a blog about the concert.) All I can truly say is that when the concert was over, I was probably as exhausted as the band. Eileen has the ability to bring you to the highest high of excitement with her music, but also hold you breathless as she plays a beautiful melody line.
If you read one of my recent blogs, you know that the one year anniversary of Barry's Old School Irish (our favorite pub) was a great success. It was a wonderful party with our favorite people all crammed under one roof. Here's a video of the song that Missy Rosenberry (Sean's mom) wrote in honor of the occasion. Click HERE. We all made Danny and Jess cry. It was great!
I came home to a very interesting sight today. As I approached the house, I saw someone on the roof and thought, "Oh, the landlord must be here to fix something." That very quickly changed to, "Holy crap! That's Sean on the roof!" Apparently playing his mandolin inside just wasn't enough anymore. He decided to take his practice session outside... onto the roof.
We have been looking in all directions for inspiration lately. We are taking a stab at songwriting. My own attempts at songwriting have always been feeble at best, but we're trying a team approach this time. So far I discovered that I'm terrible at writing lyrics, but can come up with some snazzy melodies, and Sean can come up with some groovy chord progressions and rhythms. Hopefully we will be able to merge the two into something palatable.
We are gearing up for the holiday season with Christmas songs, New Year's songs, and the ever-popular Wren Day songs! (Well, maybe "song" is more appropriate. I don't know if there is more than one Wren Day song.) Don't forget to check our calendar HERE for upcoming shows.
Hope to see you soon!
-Sarah and Sean
Wow. I am embarrassed to realize that it has been nearly two months since I wrote a blog entry. Way to drive internet traffic to your website, Sarah! A lot has been happening during that time and not all of it has been related to Barry's Crossing. The school year started and that's always a busy time of year for everyone. Sean started a new job that came with some increased responsibility (I know, how DOES he do it?). And the lease on my apartment ended. So I took the opportunity to move to a sweet little rental house right in the village of Webster. I cannot describe to you just how convenient it is to be within walking distance (read: stumbling distance) of your favorite pub, some great independently owned shops, and Rubino's! Life in the village is great. Except for the fact that I still haven't been able to get my gas dryer hooked up. I'm waiting to hear back from someone about that right now. If anyone else has any tips for me on how to hook the dang thing up without blowing the house up, I'd be very grateful!
We've been playing a lot of local shows this fall. There are so many great venues in the Rochester area that support indie musicians and for them we are grateful. Last night Sean and I sat down and were hashing through some new tunes. We're hoping to slide those into the set list in the near future.
Probably the most exciting thing on the horizon is the one year anniversary of Barry's Old School Irish. That's the pub that gave us our start in this business. When we needed a place to play and try out new tunes, they always opened their doors to us. The friends we have made there in the past year have become like family. I can't imagine this town without Barry's.
It's so interesting to look back at everything that has happened in a year. Last year towards the end of October was a trying time for me. The school I work at had lost a student to a long battle with cancer. It hit us all very hard. On October 28th, 2011 we were having "hat day" at school. The faculty decided that we would all wear fedoras in honor of our student. Simon always loved fedoras and looked SO slick in them. It was a fun way to remember such a great kid. After wearing mine all day, I kept it on (any woman out there would know why!) and I decided to head down to Barry's for the first time. It was their grand opening and I was very curious to find out what the place was like.
I was greeted by Danny as I sat down at the bar and ordered a Guinness. I am always wary when ordering Guinness at a new place. Will they know how to pour it correctly? I have to say that I had never seen anyone take their time or have as much pride in pouring a Guinness than Danny Barry. I was impressed.
I still remember exactly where I sat that evening. I had a nice, cozy corner to watch all the goings-on. There was a comfortable, easy busy-ness to the pub. The only thing I can compare it to is Thanksgiving at my grandparents' house. My dad's side of the family is rather large so the house was always full, but it never felt crowded. The same could be said for Barry's.
That evening I left with a really good feeling about that place. Later at home I had slipped into some sweats and was chilling in front of the computer when I received a text from Sean. He had just arrived at Barry's and wanted some company. He wanted me to bring my bodhran and come jam with him. (Sidenote- We had only known each other for a few weeks and had not formed Barry's Crossing yet. We were part of another band so we didn't really have any tunes that we played as a duo.) Sean enjoys reminding me what my response was to the text that he sent. "You mean I have to put pants on?" Maybe it's only funny to him, but at the time I was trying to convey to him that I was "in" for the night. He put his persuasive powers to work, and in the end I did change out of my sweats and went back to join him at the new pub.
Once there, I found him sitting in a corner fiddling away...on his fiddle. ::rimshot:: I sat next to him and did my darndest to beat out a respectable beat on the bodhran. As soon as Danny heard there was live music in the house, he came over and convinced us to move to a more prominent location. At first Sean and I resisted. We didn't really know what we were playing. We were just messing around. But Danny wouldn't hear of it. So we moved to a spot right in front of the main door.
The reception people gave us when they heard us was fantastic! (They couldn't really hear us from the corner we started from.) I vividly remember someone bringing over a plastic cup, setting it on the table next to me, then cramming some dollar bills into it. At the end of the evening, Sean and I had made $12! We were STOKED!! Ha. It's actually pretty funny remembering how excited we were.
Fast forward back to present day. Sean and I have formed a band that we named after this little pub. We have played in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and a few small towns in between. We have gone from knowing about 3 tunes to over 40. And we have a fantastic fan base that is the source of our encouragement and inspiration. I am so thankful for everything that has happened in the past year. And I blame most of it on Danny and Jessica Barry and for them opening Barry's Old School Irish in the village of Webster. If you've never been, come on down this coming Saturday as we celebrate the one year anniversary of the best pub in the whole wide world!
I am currently camping out in my room. The window is open and my feet are propped up on the ledge. My laptop is starting to heat up my thighs so this will likely be a quick blog post. I only have about 15 more minutes to go anyway. I'm trying to stay out of the living room because Sean is teaching a new violin student. This is a classically trained teenager who is looking to learn some of the techniques used in fiddle playing.
It's a fascinating lesson to eavesdrop on. There are so many aspects to fiddle playing that I take for granted. Sean makes them look so effortless! But as I'm listening in to a violin player who has never before played by ear attempt a reel without sheet music, I have a whole new appreciation for what fiddle players are able to do. A huge difference is the music you were brought up with, also. Sean grew up listening to some of the best Irish musicians- The Dady Brothers, The Clancy Brothers, and the High Kings. So when he went to try to play Irish music, it was almost like an extension of what was already in his head. (I would imagine. Feel free to comment on this posting, Sean.) But for a student who was brought up on classical music, it's like learning an entirely new language.
All of that being said, there's a joke that I think it appropriate for this occasion. "How do you get two fiddle players to play in tune? You shoot one." I can't wait until Sean has his own studio space for his students! Just a few more weeks...
July has been a spectacular month for Sean and me. While we weren’t on very many stages, we took the time to take a look at ourselves as a band and learn from other top-notch musicians.
Early in the month we played at Temple Bar on East Ave. That’s always a great time and a fun way to end the weekend! (They have Irish music every Sunday.) Dave North showed up the evening we played and we invited him up to sing a few tunes.
Sean playing with Dave North
We also had the pleasure of opening for one of my favorite bands- Enter the Haggis. It was a really fun evening at the Lovin’ Cup Bistro in Rochester.
Playing on the outside stage at Lovin' Cup
Probably the highlight of the month was the weekend spent at the Great American Irish Festival. In the past when I have attended I usually hang out around the contemporary stage. I’m a rocker chick at heart, what can I say? But Sean introduced me to the traditional stage where I saw an entirely different kind of energy. Before, I used to view acoustic instruments and singers as highly skilled musicians, but... well… a bit boring. What I saw this time was an energy not produced by electric guitars and drums, but an energy produced by driving vocals and the songs themselves.
We sat right up front while one of Sean’s favorite bands, The High Kings, performed. I was blown away by their passion and their talent. They were able to bring the crowd to its feet using acoustic instruments, the most amazing harmonies I’ve ever heard, and there wasn't a drum set in sight! It was a moving experience. (Well, it was moving once I was able to get blood flow back in my feet. Did I mention that we were sitting on the concrete ground for the entire show?)
It was very affirming for me to see a crowd get so excited by a band where the focus is the quality, not the decibel level. Sean insert- "See? Traditional music IS better!" Back to Sarah's post- Now, don’t get me wrong. I will ALWAYS love the contemporary tent and all the rock bands. But it was a different type of energy that the bands in the traditional tent put off, and the crowd gave it right back!
We had a great time at the fiddling workshop this past Saturday at Barry's Old School Irish in the village of Webster! We had a good turnout and those who came learned the St. Anne's Reel. Teaching the tune by ear, Sean made sure everyone sounded great before presenting the tune to the spectators who turned up to hear some great music.
We are hoping to make these fiddling workshops a regular occurance at the pub. Make sure you sign up for our e-mail list at the bottom of this page and "like" us on FaceBook so you don't miss the next one. It was a great experience for everyone who attended!
Later that night, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and set up on the patio. We then learned that the pub has one of the best vantage points in Webster for viewing fireworks! (I didn't grab a picture of them. I was too busy enjoying them!)
On a much more somber note- the YMCA where Sean works had a devastating fire on Sunday that destroyed the rock climbing wall. With our love for the Y and our love for rock climbing, this news has really hit us hard, especially with the knowledge that it was likely arson that caused the fire. Insurance will not cover the cost to completely rebuild the wall so the YMCA is looking for donations. Click here for more details and a link you can click on to donate. There has already been talks of fundraisers that Barry's Crossing is hoping to be involved in. Stay tuned for more details!
Until next time!
-Sarah and Sean
Do you know a violinist who would like to explore the rogue side of the violin? Or perhaps a fiddle player looking to learn a new tune? This Saturday Barry’s Crossing is trying something new. This Saturday, June 23rd is the first ever Barry's Crossing fiddle workshop! At 3 o'clock at our favorite pub, Barry's Old School Irish in Webster, Sean will be teaching a fiddle tune while Sarah sits and eats scones. (Sean swears that he’s going to be able to teach Sarah how to play the tune, but that remains to be seen!) So come on down and participate, or just sit and listen. Any and all traditional instruments are welcome, so bring your mandolins, concertinas, guitars and penny whistles too!
After the workshop, Sarah and Sean will play a short set of tunes and later that night they'll be back to pick it up a little bit with a full night of music and fun! So be sure to stop by! You can see all the details under our "shows" tab.
On an utterly unrelated note, check out the new official hobby of Barry's Crossing!