A good Irish session is like a sunny day in Vermont, it comes and goes. But one session in particular has weathered through and continues to attract some of the best Irish musicians this side of Lake Champlain. It’s a weekly Wednesday night session held at Radio Bean in Burlington. As far as I know, this is the longest running session in Burlington and has truly stood the test of time.
According to local singer and concertina player, Marty Morrissey, the session started out as a coffee house song-swap back in 1980 at the Fresh Ground Coffee House which is no longer in existence. Nobody played tunes at that time they just shared songs. In 1986 the song-swap morphed into more of a instrumental session as more and more talented instrumentalists would show up and share a tune instead of a song. For many years, fiddle players were a scarce crowd at this session unlike today where fiddle players sometimes dominate it.
Throughout the years the session moved from location to location, some of which are now defunct like Duggan’s Pub, P.E. Sullivan’s, the 7th Chord in Winooski and the Dockside Cafe on the Waterfront. More recently the session moved around to such places as Red Square on Church Street and now lives at Radio Bean located on South Winooski Avenue in Burlington.
The weekly session attracts, and continues to attract, local Irish musicians as well as traveling luminaries such as Scots piper, Hamish Moore and fiddler, Randal Bays, who have been known to stop by for a tune or two when in the area. The session has been known also to launch a few musical careers as well. According to fiddler and guitarist, Doug Riley, some of them include Woods Tea Company, Ellery Klein and The Highland Weavers.
So though the weather in Vermont is not so predicable, there is one thing you can count on, a Wednesday night session at Radio Bean. The tunes are played at a pretty good clip. The players are friendly, the atmosphere is cozy and the audience is appreciative. This session starts to get going around 9pm and doesn’t wrap up until about 11pm or later. Hope to see you there!