For close to a dozen years, the Barley House has been giving its customers more than just food on Tuesday nights. Each week, the pub showcases an Irish jam session with talented local artists who perform original and traditional songs.
The Barley House is known for its tasty burgers, but on jam night, the music takes center stage, with patrons discussing the music through mouthfuls of food.
"This is a lot of fun," said Raymond MacWhinnie of Concord. "I have been coming here six years for the music. I like the Irish music because it is more like a jam session where you never know what they are going to play. It's very pleasant and casual. I love it, there is always something about the Irish type of music that gets to me."
Sometimes as many as a dozen traditional Irish musicians gather in the dining room, where they all sit down around a table and jam. The musicians are armed with violins, fiddles, flutes and guitars. Neil Kenney and Claudia Altemus have been playing at the Barley House for over a decade. (Kenney is the only person in the group actually born and raised in Ireland.)
Kenney didn't grow up a musician but instead learned how to play later in life, just so he could get involved with the music that he grew up with back in Ireland.
Along with Kenney, Altemus is there performing nearly every week.
"Sometimes we have eight people performing, sometimes six, but sometimes we can have much more than that," Altemus explained. Anyone who knows how to play the music is welcome to join in.
"The music is all about melody, everybody knows different melodies, and we know hundreds and some people know thousands. A person starts one and then we join in if we know it, and all the music is meant to be danced to so rhythm is very important," Altemus said.
"When we first opened up within a week we had someone approach us about playing Irish music, and we have pretty been doing it ever since," Barley House owner Brian Shea said.
"We really don't have to do much, they don't interfere with the customers in that you can still hear what other people around you are saying. And, they don't take requests, so it is really like a jam session, but it's background music that people really enjoy every Tuesday," Shea said.
"It's been a tradition ever since we've been here, going on 12 years. From the Barley House standpoint, they do all the heavy lifting. It brings great atmosphere. It brings a sense of community to the bar like the bars in Ireland have," he continued.
Along with traditional Irish Music Night every Tuesday, the Barley House has also begun a local weekly music series, which features local musicians playing mostly original songs.
"I used to come here when they did the open mic night, and I really miss that, but I came in a few weeks ago and found out about the music series and have been hooked ever since. We specifically came for the music," said Sarah Columbo of Concord.
"It's a nice way to relax,"agreed Wendy Pouliot of Concord.
Andrew Merzi is a solo artist from Portsmouth who recently performed at the Barley House. Merzi called the experience "awesome," saying, "It's pretty much my favorite thing to do."
"For the most part I play my own music. Occasionally I will play a cover I love to play but that is it," Merzi said."It's cool that the Barley House does this."
New Hampshire-based musician Brad Myrick put together the series with the blessing of Shea. Myrick, a music producer who has played around the world, said, "About two months ago, I looked around and realized there was a dearth of live music in Concord. So, I talked to the Barley House about it, and they told me to run with it. It has been a good response so far." (next page »)