Guinan's Irish music fest continues
Barbara Livingston Nackman
17 May 2008
The Journal News (White Plains, NY)
(c) Copyright 2008, The Journal News. All Rights Reserved.
The Irish music tradition Rising of the Moon will be on Wednesdays at the Cold Spring Depot Restaurant in Cold Spring and on Thursdays at P.J. Kelly's in Peekskill every month after a full moon. The days of the week were reversed in an article Saturday.
COLD SPRING - Guinan's in Garrison officially closed its doors in January, but its monthly ritual of Irish music after a full moon still rings out along the bank of the Hudson River.
The Rising of the Moon observance has been resurrected in not one, but two local sites.
Spirited singers and musicians are giving new life to the lilting Gaelic tunes that elicited a smile from Jim Guinan and his friendly guests for nearly five decades in Garrison.
"It's just good to keep the tradition going," said Candace Coates, a professional harp player from Fishkill, who was the first to arrive at The Cold Spring Depot Restaurant late last month for a new Irish night.
"We all just have a love of the music, and the sound is better than ever," she said of the new setting, where performers sit around a large table in a well-lit room with features Guinan's never had - air conditioning, plenty of comfy chairs, and a full menu of food and beverages.
Two host restaurant-pubs have stepped up to give venues to the Irish music every four weeks.
On Thursdays it will be at The Cold Spring Depot, less than five miles north from Garrison but still along the Metro-North Railroad tracks.
"Most of us are used to pausing when the train comes by and are glad that hasn't changed," said Ann Dillon of Cold Spring, who organizes the musicians with John McAuliffe of Carmel. They also get help from Cold Spring music producer and promoter Joe Johnson, who has plans for a variety of music events at the popular train-side restaurant.
On Wednesdays, the event heads to P.J. Kelly's in Peekskill, which is tucked near that community's train station.
"It will still be right on the banks of the Hudson River," said the pub's owner, Matt Kelly, who is putting his version of the event together with Jack Murphy, chairman of the Peekskill St. Patrick's Committee.
Both men know Jim Guinan and the Guinan family, which decided to shut down the beloved Garrison institution after 50 years of operation. Guinan's served as a pub by night and a train-station deli by day.
Family patriarch Jim Guinan, 81, now free of his store, has since visited Ireland and settled near Tampa, Fla.
Guinan said he wishes the new and old minstrels well, but urged them to be true to the old tunes.
"It's all about the music, love," he said from his new Florida digs, admitting that he misses New York just a bit, even though the golf is nice. "The old tunes remind us of old times. It is good, yes, to keep going, but as long as it continues in the right way."
To Guinan, that means no microphones or amplifiers. There is some indication new technology might bend the tradition, because at The Depot, a small camera is positioned on the musicians, and their image is broadcast onto a big-screen television in the bar area. A soccer game from Spain and sounds of Jackson Browne's rock classic "Running on Empty" were turned off last month for the Irish tunes.
Ray Bermingham of Cortlandt sang some ballads. He came prepared with sheet music and warmed up with a tune about how beautiful the world seemed when a young woman named Nora espoused her true love.
"It's all about the tradition," Bermingham said as his wife, Bridget, hummed along and sipped wine, something she could not do at the beer-only Guinan's pub.
Jack Pendergast of Pearl River pulled out a box accordion his father brought with him from County Clare, Ireland.
"It is really the same. We are a bunch of people interested in Irish music," he said of the new setting. "There is no formality, just plain fun. You can be good, bad or indifferent, just join in with your heart."
Mary Lou Tully of Garrison loves the music and came just to listen.
"I love Irish music. I used to go to Guinan's," she said before calling it a night at 10 p.m. "It is good here, this can hold more people."
Sean O'Malley, a New York City firefighter who lives in Cold Spring, stood and listened for a while with friends.
"Guinan's was such a terrific place. It is good to keep this event close," he said.
The only thing missing, though, was hearing Guinan in person sing "Oh, Danny Boy," one of his favorites, which he sang to an appreciative audience on his last Rising of the Moon fest in January.
But, Guinan said he is planning to visit later this month, and who knows, he might just stop by and sing from memory.
Reach Barbara Livingston Nackman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-228-2272.
Rising of the Moon music nights
- Cold Spring Depot, 1 Depot Square, 8 p.m. May 21, June 18
- P.J. Kelly's, Railroad Avenue at the Peekskill train station, 8 p.m. May 22, June 19