Tadgh Dolan checks out Lisa Hannigan’s show at Slim’s, SF on Feb 18th:
Taking to the stage at Slim’s bar San Francisco, it’s clear to see why Lisa Hannigan is a star. Her presence on stage requires little accompaniment, as her melodic voice sweeps over the packed crowd. It’s a Saturday night. It’s busy. And Hannigan, despite a bout of laryngitis, is here to put on a show.
It’s been almost nine years since Hannigan’s debut album Sea Sew established her as one of the go to artists in Irish music. Her new foray is entitled At Swim and captures Hannigan at a fragile moment in time. Tracks like “We, The Drowned” and “Lo” give a new insight into the lows Hannigan experienced while living in London, a city she said she never felt at home in. The haunting ballads on the album seem to exercise the demons of self-doubt that plagued Hannigan during this time. What eventually emerges is a steadiness and control unlike anything we have seen from Hannigan before.
At Swim certainly isn’t a feel-good album. Tracks such as “Prayer for the Dying” and “Funeral Suit” show a softer more self-aware side to the singer. It seems that Hannigan is delving deeper into her own personal experiences, and wants to bring her fans on that journey with her.
Judging by the huge turnout at her San Francisco show, it’s a journey that many fans are willing to take. At Swim is a confessional, thoughtful and authentic piece of work and Hannigan keeps her place as one of Ireland’s top performers.
“A good séisiún can leave you walking on air, send you home happy and keep your mind filled with music for a whole week.” – Charlie Lennon
See calendar pages for details of several regular ongoing Irish music sessions in the Bay Area. For information about Sunday seisiuns around the Bay Area, see here
Plough & Stars, San Francisco • Tuesdays, Sundays
At the Plough & Stars Sunday séisiún – you never know who might show up. Pictured above: a recent mighty Plough session with special guests Mick Moloney and Athena Tergis (photo Eoin Hobden) See video of regular Sunday session below.
O’Flaherty’s, San Jose • Tuesdays
The South Bay’s longest running traditional Irish music session thanks to Ray and Marie O’Flaherty who have kept the tradition going at the pub. Hosted by Julie Horner, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and the music is lively with tunes and songs in the spirit of the tradition. 6:30 to 10:00 every Tuesday evening in downtown San Jose. See Tuesdays on calendar for details.
Meetup groups are also worth checking out for Irish music – and social opportunities. One member shares “…have been playing the whistle for a few years now, originally from India, and have been living in Upstate NY for the last couple years. Kerry music is my favorite!” Join a group or start your own…
In Memory – John Lavelle (1935 – 2016)
One of the San Jose area’s elder statesmen of Irish music, John Edward Lavelle, a regular at O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub sessions, died peacefully at his home October 21st after a long and courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Outside of his love for his wife, Kathleen and sons, daughters and grandchildren, John’s greatest love was playing traditional Irish tunes on the button accordion. He picked up the accordion at the age of five and never put it down. He brought the joy of Irish music to all those around him. He had the honor of playing for Pope John Paul II during his visit to San Francisco in the 1980’s. For years, John could be found performing in Irish music sessions across the Bay Area where he would regale the crowd with selections from the hundreds of traditional tunes in his repertoire. To purchase John’s CD and to find out more go to John Lavelle website.