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March 7, 2014

songs of a coal miner’s son

With Gene Christy & Rod MacDow

episode twenty . . . 12511033-st-patrick-s-day-just-ahead-green-road-sign-with-dramatic-clouds-sun-rays-and-sky (1)
What a St Paddy’s season this year! Great craic! Just the way we like it this time of year!

Today, our band, The Dossers, had a great time in the television studio at Time-Warner Cable Local Access Channel 16, here in Pittsfield, county seat of the Berkshires, USA, taping an hour-long St Patrick’s show that lasted 57.38!—loaded with laughs and good tunes—and our Happy St Patrick’s 2014 show will be broadcast on Thursday, March 6, 7pm, as well the next day—4 times, at 9 am, 12.30, 4 pm, and 7.30—this is so that all the blood-thirsty shut-ins of Berkshire County can see us no matter what time they crawl out of bed!—and in addition, the following week, on Thursday the 13th, at 9 am and 2 pm. And throughout the rest of the month, for those of our friends out in Oregon and elsewhere, you can view the show online at

you may have to select “Show Search,” but then enter the following Program ID info–

20551 Poetry, Arts and Music with Jerry Title: Irish Music Session (View)

So, you see, the Dossers can be seen—everywhere!

And in person, too, as we are booked for the second year in a row to play the annual banquet of the Berkshire County Irish-American Club!


Right now we’d like to send a loud, mighty shout-out to Tara Mulroy herself, who has officially befriended us, and is hostess to both you and us, on the beachfront in South County, RI !!—which Ms Mulroy, who hails from County Tipp, has re-named Rhode Ireland! for St Patrick’s this year. Be sure and stop in when you’re cruising the beautiful waters of the southern New England coastline or some of our gorgeous roads (mind the potholes!)—you’ll be glad you did! You can follow all the doings at Tara’s Tipperary Tavern at

And let’s not forget our good friend and host, at this time of year, up in ski country, Murray McGrath, of McGrath’s Irish Pub at the Inn at the Long Trail in Killington! Visit Murray at

This very weekend, Murray will be presenting our friends, the Rakish Paddy band, with Perry Daniels and Eileen Markland, on Fri Mar 7th and Sat Mar 8th!

Last week Perry and Eileen were our featured artists on our blog here at


And we have a brilliant schedule of the Berkshires’ finest live music acts coming up soon on this website, including the likes of the Malibu Bros, the Jeff King Blues Band, (not to be missed!) and singer-songwriter Robin O’Herin—the “Bonnie Raitt” of the Berkshires!

But first, it’s St Paddy’s, and so we must turn our attention to this week’s


Therefore, we are pleased and proud to present our good friend on fiddle, guitar, vocals, mandolin, dobro and who knows what else, the eclectic, multi-instrumentalist

Paul Riceb PAUL RICE

Paul is one of the very first members of the musician’s colony that I met when I first came out here, ten years ago, from the Boston area, and I’m happy to say we’ve been friends ever since—but he’s a hard guy to catch up to! Paul has no less than three principal bands he gigs with on a steady, long-time, revolving basis, and to show his versatility, they cover quite a range—

The Housatonic Philharmonic traditional Irish jigs, reels, hornpipes and vocals with Tim Gray and Andy Gordon

Dublin Porter the same, only different! With Rick Leab and Paul Boudreau

and a “Western Swing” band, called


with whom Paul sings and plays fiddle and electric guitar!

I know few people with the range of musical knowledge and veteran savvy, or the mastery of such diverse musical skills, as my friend Paul Rice—and we fondly hope to feature more of his music as the year goes on and time and energy permit—but for this week, we were forced to narrow things down to a selection—and so we’ll choose to begin with


And hope to give the other two bands their own featured artist slots at other times later in the year—otherwise, it’s not possible to do justice to all the fine musicians involved.

The Housatonic River, of course, is our Mississippi, as it wanders and winds its meandering way all through Berkshire County and down through Connecticut. In fact, it goes directly past my house, on the so-called “West Branch” run, down from Lake Pontoosuc, right across the road from my all-weather wrap-around deck, such that I see the river every day as I perform blog duties and record and edit music in my house—I love it! I’m in the city—but right on the urban edge–not more than 1 mile away from open country!

Let’s give you just a taste now, a sample, of

Paul Rice fiddle, mandolin, banjo
Tim Gray hammered dulcimer, piano, pennywhistle, melodica
and Andy Gordon banjo, spoons

They call their group Housatonic Philharmonic, and let’s listen, on their cd album of the same name:

to the well-known Irish ballad, “Star of the County Down.”

As you can readily tell, this band is not your garage-grunge hoot-n-holler wild-bunch Irish pub-crawler group! In other words, ¬not the Dossers! My band is a good-time-music sing-along outfit. Housatonic Philharmonic invites you to an evening in the 18th century, in the drawing room of an aristocratic home on an estate in the Irish countryside—Turlough O’Carolan wanders in with his harp to entertain the young ladies and their beaus, while their parents keep a watchful, but kindly-disposed, eye on the proceedings—and the entire room is wafted away on strings from heavenly choirs!

Who was this man? Obviously he has profoundly influenced Housatonic Philharmonic—as he has every generation of the folks who treasure Irish music since the days when he walked the earth himself.

turlough o'carolan_2

Turlough O’Carolan, was a blind Irish harper, composer and singer whose great fame is due to his gift for melodic composition. He is considered by many to be Ireland’s national composer.


O’Carolan was born in 1670. He lived at a time when the Irish language (aka Gaelic) was still spoken as the everyday communication-coin of the country. Although he died in 1738, his music will live forever.

I myself years ago taught myself to play his composition called Carolan’s Concerto on my old 1956 Excelsior squeezebox—as I remember, I got it from the radio, or a record, and learned it by ear, without sheet music.

Often I used to sit by myself and play this just for the enjoyment of the sheer, exquisite beauty of the song—as well as the pleasure of tripping your fingers over the keyboard on the rather complicated sequence of notes. I would play it twice or thrice testing myself to see if I could get through it without mistakes, while yet giving it the lilt and feeling of this emotional piece—the rise and fall of it.

I did not know at the time that it was originally a harp piece, for strings. Or that someday I would meet Paul Rice.

Paul Rice remains today the only person I’ve ever met who knew that tune by heart and could sit with me and play it on the fiddle, note for note, while I played all the same notes on my box.

A moment to live for.

I never made a recording of that. Wish I had.

But we do have something even better. Paul Rice and Housatonic Philharmonic performing

Carolan’s Concerto . . .

What, or who, could follow that?

How about another O’Carolan piece–by Housatonic Philharmonic!–one of the old harp-player’s most universally beloved favorites, down through the generations, the heartfelt

Si Bheag Si Mhor (Sheebeg Sheemore)

And what would St Patrick’s be without a jig or two?

Smash the Windows

BTW– both of Paul Rice’s Irish bands are booked for St Patrick’s weekend this year, at The Olde Forge in Lanesboro. On Saturday night, the 15th of March, you can hear Dublin Porter from 7 – 10pm, and on St Patrick’s Day itself, Monday, the 17th, Housatonic Philharmonic will be playing, both afternoon and evening.

Here’s the schedule for the lads the rest of the year – – so far!

March 17, St Paddys at the Old Forge, Afternoon and evening
April 26, Fri., Private Fundraiser with Square One, Greenwich, Ct.
June 30, Sun., Hilltown Dance, Private Afternoon
Lions Den, Red Lion Inn Stockbridge, Ma. 8-11
July 3rd, private party in Richmond
July 9, Tues., Springside Park Concert, Pittsfield, Free 7 – 8:15PM
July 21, Private dance with Square One, Camp Watitah, Becket
July 31, Wed., Lilac Park Concert, Lenox 7 – 8:15
August 18, Sun., Lions Den , Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge,Ma.
Sept. 7, Williamstown Rural Land Council, Annual Square Dance with Square One
Sept. 20 or 27, Founders’ Day, Lee , Ma. 6-8

Check back with us here at


During the course of the rest of the year, we shall be featuring Dublin Porter, Spurs USA, the Jeff King Blues Band, the Malibu Bros, Robin O’Herin, Patrick Gray and many more!

My band, the Dossers, with myself, Gene Christy, Bill Morrison and Rick Marquis, will be playing in Pittsfield on

Saturday Mar 15th for the Irish-American Club Annual Dinner at the Elks on Union Street in Pittsfield. Doors open at 5.30 pm Hors d’ouerves at 6 – dinner, music and The Dossers to follow till 10 pm___for your Irish musical listening and dancing pleasure . . .

The Dossers are, L to R, Rick Marquis on vocals, banjo, and mandolin, Gene Christy on vocals and Roland all-digital accordion, and Bill Morrison, on vocals and rhythm guitar

The Dossers are, L to R, Rick Marquis on vocals, banjo, and mandolin, Gene Christy on vocals and Roland all-digital accordion, and Bill Morrison, on vocals and rhythm guitar


And on Monday the 17th, St Paddy’s Day, we’ll be at PORTSMITT’S LAKEWAY RESTAURANT, corner of Peck’s Road and Valentine Road, in Pittsfield, from 4 – 7p and beyond, as long as they can stand up!

Join Us On St. Patrick’s Day
…Monday March 17th
enough cheek (2) Corned Beef And Cabbage
~ Special St. Patty Drinks ~
THE DOSSERS! – Irish Music, 4PM-7PM

Myself, well, you can catch me doing my solo act at The Marketplace Café, North Street in Pittsfield, Fri Mar 14th, and Fri Mar 21st, from 6.30 to 8.30 pm—

As well as in Great Barrington, on Wednesday, Mar 12th, 11a – 1p, for the Italian Club’s luncheon—and we promise to do some Irish there as well!

As they say in Italy – – Ciao! And in Ireland – – Slan!

Catch us next week, same time, same station, here at


when our Featured Artist of the Week group will be —

none other than THE DOSSERS !!!

Meanwhile, visit our friends:


Bobby Sweet at
Rakish Paddy at

Eddie Dillon at

And Jessica Roemischer at

Fair thee well, Titanic!

A Pint of Slainte

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