How it’s New York: Took place on Monday March 16th at The Scratcher on E. 5th Street
How it’s Irish: Featured Glen Hansard and a host of modern Irish musicians and the songs and band of the late Jason Molina
Sometimes you happen upon a once in a lifetime gig, and that was just what happened to me last night. Walking into see singer/songrwriter Mark Dignam on Sunday night at The Scratcher Sessions, I literally bumped into Glen Hansard who was there to cheer on his longtime musical co-hort.
During Mark’s set (see separate review blogpost to come), the buzz was all over the room that Glen, in town to make an appearance tonight on Late Night with David Letterman, was going to do a secret show on Monday night. This was confirmed to me by the man himself toward the end the night and I quickly made sure that my daughter would let her crazy Irish music fan mom out two nights in a row!
Walking into The Scratcher at close to 2 hours before showtime, the place was already quite packed and seating limited. The air was as thick with anticipation as the creamy head on the pints of porter sprinkled across the tables, and seating was already at a premium. Word has spread like wildfire and this was going to be a great night.
The evening started off with Glen singing the songs of the late Jason Molina (aka Songs:Ohia and of Magnolia Electric Company), one of which he is performing tonight on David Letterman, backed by Rob Bochnik (now a Frame) on lead guitar, and the other members of Songs:Ohia, Rob Sullivan on Bass, Dan Sullivan on Guitar, Jeff Panall on Drums and Jennie Benford on backing vocals. These songs all appear on the new EP released today It Was Triumph We Once Proposed … Songs of Jason Molina. available on Itunes and by mail order.
Glen and the Frames came to know Jason Molina’s music through a tape that someone gave them when they were touring the US. So taken were they with the songs that they learned some of them and even wrote to Jason, inviting him to come to Ireland, which he gladly took them up on. They had some inspirational gigs together, and now, following his sad passing in 2013, Glen decided to bring some of the songs back to his audience, and they are well worth it.
But Glen wasn’t done there! Being that it was the night before St. Patrick’s Day, there was a wealth of Irish musicians in town, and the FOG (Friends of Glen), showed up in force. After Glen’s set, Mark Dignam and Nathan Zoob took over and whipped the room into choral magnificence with his anthemic songs Damn You California and Tallahassee from his current CD Re-Build. Taking up the torch next was writer Dennis Driscoll, who has toured with The Frames in Ireland, reading from his Inwood Stories, of debauchery and the seamier side of Irish-American Life, to the delighted laughter of the room. Mundy blazed through Neil Young’s Ohio and then a few of his new songs from his upcoming record, followed by Anthony Mulcahy with a Mic Christopher song and a hilarious take on getting a mistress. The sublime Jenna Nicholls romped through a bluesy tune, before the whole shebang jumped in and brought the house down with The Auld Triangle.
The room was still hopping when I left at 2:00am, much to my chagrin, having to put a child on a schoolbus at 7, but with the vibe in the room and the camaraderie of a bunch of old friends singing in St. Patrick’s Day, it was well worth it. Here’s hoping that this can become an annual affair where the stereotypical celebrations give way to true joy, friendship and music!