Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Peggy Seeger in Clare

I am ambivalent generally about one man (or woman)  performances of any description but we had an inkling that we would hear something extraordinary when legendary folk singer Peggy Seeger was a guest of Sixmilebridge Folk Club County Clare. The intimate Courthouse venue was crammed  with circa 120 or so  which for  a midweek evening, even with a star of Seeger's renown is a feat of good marketing and PR work by the astute Brendan Walsh and the hard working committee members.  We arrived too late to hear Tommy Sands but in time for a cup of tea before Seeger took to the small stage. She was introduced by Cork based promoter John Nyhan who referred to encountering the Seeger siblings legendary recordings in trips to Crowleys Music Shop in Cork. Even for the uninitiated the Seeger name has a resonance following decades of collecting, recording and composing. 

 Wearing no make up and and with cropped grey hair, Seeger is a striking and commanding presence and looked elegant  in a simple black and white ensemble.  This is after all, the face which inspired  one of the great love songs of the 20th century.  With a matronly concern she advised her capacity audience to stretch their legs and get some fresh air before launching her set in the packed  intimate Courthouse venue.
Peggy's Box
Over the course of an hour or so she performed on a diverse collection of folk instruments and also accompanying herself very adroitly at the piano.  The songs range from simple unaccompanied ballads,  to witty comic turns and hard hitting protest songs.  Her consort of instruments included an Applachian Dulcimer rarely seen on this side of the Atlantic, the familiar concertina, banjo, guitar and autoharp. I particularly liked the soft gut string munitions box lute. At interludes she read some humourous quotations from a folder of clippings.

She spoke warmly about her upbringing in an musically  accomplished  household.  I was reminded of Andy Irvine both in the references to the parental musical influence in other genres,  the enduring  enthusiasm for the road despite maturity,  and intellectual rigour underpinning the performance .  Her song Bringing it Home  towards the end of the evening was for me the highlight of a wonderful  entertaining evening. 

Munitions Box Lute

Packed Courthouse
My only quibble is that the flourescent lighting was too bright  and militated aginst a soiree ambience. Following the performance Peggy Seeger retired to the back room to meet and greet and to attend  to the post concert commercial * end of the evening 
What wonderful energy, emotion and wit she brought to her performance at this intimate venue. Bravo Peggy!  A memorable and delightful musical evening!

*( Although an important part of the procedings, I do feel the promoter or host might make someone available to help with the business end  leaving the star performer free to sign and chat without the mundane task of finding 'change of a twenty')


  1. Hello Cathy
    You and the good folks who support the folk club will be delighted to know that we plan to have a new stage and lighting set-up in the Courthouse in time for January!

    Keep up the good work!


  2. That is good news . I look forward to the Winter Music Weekend . The Courthouse remains one of my favourite venues for live music and I am always impressed by the organisation.

  3. hi there, i am looking for the tune of grey october, written and music by peggy seeger, how can i source it. thanks

    1. Hi Nikki, Not sure where you might find that. You could contact Peggy through her website.