Reeling In the Years
Visit Fergie’s Pub on any Saturday afternoon, and the place will be rocking to traditional Irish music, performed by some of the city’s best players. Fiddlers, flutists, accordion players and more have called the pub home for a decade.
This Saturday (January 5), they’ll be positively blowing the doors off the joint as local musicians from all over the place descend upon the standout Sansom Street bar and restaurant to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Fergie’s traditional Irish music session.
Session anchor and guitarist Darin Kelly sees the big blowout as a way to thank owners Fergus Carey and Wajih Abed. Without them, he says, the Fergie’s session wouldn’t have lasted 10 weeks.
“I thought it would be a nice way to celebrate the support that Fergie and Wajih have given to traditional music for 10 years, which is like 80 years in human time,” says Kelly. “Sessions tend to live their functional lives in dog years, as trends come and go. But Fergie and the whole staff have been nothing but supportive and enthusiastic from the jump. I wanted to invite everyone who has been a part of the session since those first notes, and give Fergie our expression of thanks, in the best way we can.”
Gratitude perhaps goes both ways. When Fergie’s opened in 1994, Irish tenor banjo player Jack Crowley anchored the session. Then, for a while, there was a lull. Then, in January of 2003, Kelly—primarily known as a celebrated classical trumpeter—approached Fergie about re-starting the Saturday afternoon live music session. Fergie was enthusiastic from the start, he says. Soon, he and Brendan Callahan—a four-time all-Ireland medalist fiddler now living in Boston—were anchoring one of the jumpingest Irish sessions anywhere, let alone the city.
Like all traditional Irish music sessions, the Fergie’s Saturday afternoon get-together also serves a social purpose for the small core group of regulars who play there, off in a far corner of the room.
“People are there to enjoy each other’s company, swap stories, bust each others’ stones, and generally enjoy a good couple of hours of great music in a rare place without television,” says Kelly. “Fergie’s is pretty small, so naturally our group of players has remained fairly tight-knit. The regular players are people I’ve known and played with for years, and I’ve learned everything I know from these people. And we generally like each other—a rarity. Bottom line, there is better traditional Irish music on a consistent basis coming out of Fergie’s than any other session I know of around here.”
After 10 years, Kelly has piled up a guitar case full of fond memories. He recalls in particular the times when fiddler and dancer Dan Stacey would lace up his hard shoes and take to the floor. “The look on peoples’ faces when he would literally make the room shake was fantastic.”
Sometimes, the vibe was so irresistible, the session blew right through the scheduled 7 p.m. stop. “One night I remember playing pretty much non-stop until 9:45,” Kelly says. “The absolutely sublime moments of music I had with Brendan particularly are memories that I’ll have forever.”
You can find out why the Fergie’s session stirs such tender memories. The 10th anniversary blowout starts at 1 p.m., and lasts ‘til 7—at least, that’s the plan. Fergie’s is at 1214 Sansom Street. There’ll be food and drink specials as an extra incentive. Show up, eat, drink, play (or listen).