The Dublin Blues survival Guide

You’re there, and I’m here, and you want to know where to go when you get here. The guide book you have is out of date, even if the date on the cover is 2007/2008, and besides, the folks who write them aren’t wild and crazy like us anyway. So now you’re in a pickle, because when you’re here you’ll wander aimlessly, hearing all about that great gig the night before! No it’s not a conspiracy it’s the tourist blues. But wait! Hark I hear help upon this line.

Come gather round ye souls of soul
and clammer ‘board my train
follow me to the promised land of prophecy and pain
heed not the clarion of calm and wiser things
to flop and mop on the streets of green
in search of flightless wings
but cast your eyes on treasures gold
in the words that do ensue
and find your guide to all that is
and ever can be called the blues

Every night in Dublin is a music night and every time you turn a corner in Temple Bar, Dublin’s SoHo, you’ll hear music, mostly Trad (Traditional Irish Music) especially for the tourist trade. The Blues however is a movable feast, it’s everywhere. For sure-fire success in finding a blues gig, check out the Dublin Event Guide, published bi-weekly it lists music, art, drama etc., etc. one could never hope to see everything, but you’ll have fun trying and for a sure bet, plan to stay in Dublin over a weekend to hear the most Blues on offer. If you’re Hotel / B&B doesn’t have a copy most pubs do, ask. On-line the best Entertainment Guide is

The first stop is JJ Symths on Aungier Street, it’s the centre for Friday and Saturday gigs. Assortments of blues musicians crackle on Friday & Saturdays check out the Dublin Event guide to see who is taking to the stage. O.K. it’s raining and its Sunday afternoon, Irish sunshine to us and maybe to you if you drop by Bruxelles (pronounced Brusscells, or you’ll never find it) on Harry Street. Home of the Blues when that hangover cure just ain’t workin’ and you need a bit of the hair of the dog. Here on This pub is open to 1:30am seven days a week so if you bolt yourself to a seat it is conceivable you could spend your whole holiday there listening to all kinds of music. Of course the bands will be live and the management cannot guarantee you will be when they put you on the plane. Also a good bet for Sunday afternoons is The Merchantile on Dame Street a jazz gig, definitely not to be missed.

The Cobblestones in Smithfield is now fast becoming a Mecca for music fans. Starting from Thursdays running through to Saturday, this venue rocks, stomps and leaves music fans agog with the incredible live shows put on by extraordinary musicians.

And if you’re still alive or here, not necessary both, on Tuesday stop into J.J. Smyth’s, the pub where the ‘Blues Club’ rotate their member bands on a weekly basis. Rockin’, stompin’, cryin’ sighin’ blues bands plus members, mostly musicians, gather for a few pints and, cause we just can’t get enough of it, to mix and mingle and if you’re lucky guest up for a tune or two. J.J’s also hosts: the best jazz gig in the city Richie Buckley and assorted friends calling themselves Isotope on Thursday nights, Parchman Farm on Friday’s and the Leftovers on Saturday. They’re called the Leftovers because their leftover from other bands here and gone. But don’t be fooled their brass section is the main course.

Our pub licensing laws have been relaxed quite a bit, so there is a lot going on after the gigs…..mainly MORE gigs….and now the list:

Eamon Dorans – Bands varied mostly for a younger crowd.

The Gaiety Theatre – Early evening see a theatrical production, but late night (doors open at 12pm) wander through four separate venues jazz, blues, disco or that night’s contemporary band until the early hours (4am).

The IFC (better known as the Irish Film Centre) – Ask again, bands are varied but if you’ve picked the right weekend Kristin Kapelli will raise all the hair off the back of your neck singing the guttiest blues this side of Janis Joplin.

The Olympia Theatre is another theatrical establishment that hosts bigger and often international entertainment late night. Weekends only, the patrons divide themselves into two groups, them that’s there for the music and them that’s there to drink in one of the three bars at the back of the rows of seats. It works for us because they offer plastic pint containers for them that’s listening.

Renard’s – This late night ‘IN’ venue doesn’t have any bands on the weekends, they use to, we live in hope they (and Robbie this means you) will again. Soon!

The Sugar Club – You’ll find the club in Leeson Street. OK we know everyone will say aghhhh “70’s disco wine club hell”, of which, of course we would know nothing. This, however, is a club to beat all clubs, stylish, fun and real people (mostly!). Bands are of the more popular breed but then all dogs can’t be BLUEbloods.

The Temple Bar Music Centre – Ask, could be anything, but if you’re lucky maybe one of the lads is playing.

That’s what’s on offer for now. This list will be updated and added to as the publicans (bar owners) in town get sense and hire the worthy instead of playing an ol’ record or two for the hot and sweaty. Just an aside, the population growth in Ireland is dropping and here is the answer to why: The blues doesn’t get you hot and sweaty it just puts you in the mood to get hot and sweaty later (if you catch my drift).

Still here? Still looking for an even later place to go? Want to go where the musicians go? Shhh…

AliBaBa’s – Restaurant cum late, late night mecca serving food, drink and one lone musician, who frequently turns over his gig to whoever is hanging around ……. and no you can’t mention our names.

P.S. This is a public service announcement “to be fore armed is to be a happy camper”

See you here, Caroline Farrar & Caroline Brady