My New Stomping Ground
I don't get out much, and in the two times I've been out in the seven months since moving back home from abroad, it's been to McGraw's Irish Pub, within walking distance across the border in East Rochester, NY. I'm only an Irish quadroon, and not even really a huge aficionado of Irish music (despite what a two-decade-old photo of me three sheets to the wind with Tommy Makem at his bar in NYC might suggest), but as a fan of anything acoustic and authentic, this place is definitely the most happening place I've found that I can safely walk to and from.
The first time I went there was with the extended family on the eve of Christmas Eve. The fish 'n' chips took forever in coming, and in the meantime musicians kept pouring in until there were more than a dozen, of all ages, playing Irish folk tunes and Christmas carols. It seems Western New York, the Southern Tier, and the rest of Upstate New York is a hotbed for Irish music.
Last weekend, I returned with a childhood friend whom I had not seen since the Second Millennium. We strolled over there and again, the music was authentic and acoustic. A smaller band, again of all ages, alternated between covers of The Pogues' greatest hits and Irish Republican Army. During the break, we chatted up the fiddle player, whose gams and fiddling we had been admiring. ("Casado pero no castrado," as a Nuyorican friend used to say.) It turned out the fiddler was married, like us, and the old singer in the band was her father (with whom we later had a fine conversation) and there were a couple of uncles and cousins in the band, too. They were visiting from Downstate.
I asked the missus to accompany me there this Saturday on a date.