Dempsey’s Irish Music Session, NYC, A New Perspective

Billed as “New York’s longest running open session,” Dempsey’s session is a great one to catch if you’re in the city on a Tuesday night looking for tunes. Dempsey’s is at 61 Second Ave, very near 4th Street on Manhattan’s lower east side. I managed to get myself over there for the second time a couple weeks ago when I was in the city for work–I went last year about this time as well. It was a great time, and I doubt you could find a friendlier group of folks. John Nevin is the organizer (he’s playing banjo in the video). The format is still “Round Robin” twice through the group, after that it’s a free-for-all.

I wanted to mention Dempsey’s again because my perspective has changed alot as a musician over the last year–I’ve attended alot more sessions, I’ve learned a bunch about playing with others, and I feel my skill level has increased as a result. I know a good number more tunes now, too. Last year at Dempsey’s I felt like an outsider–this year I felt like one of the group.

It wasn’t all roses, however–early on I managed to pull out a few tunes that didn’t go over as well as I hoped–maybe my versions were different, maybe they couldn’t hear me–and at first I felt embarrassed. But I’ve heard better musician’s than myself mess up worse than that and keep on, so I stayed on until most people had left, and hung out late to talk to and play with the folks who seemed to be the core group. It felt alot more like being at home!

Here’s a video of the session at Christmastime last year (2013).

They’re on Facebook as well–check out the session’s page for updates and news.

Dempsey’s on


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