Aplscruf's Music, Art, and Literature Blog

Damian Brennan at Dubh Linn Gate, Whistler, BC July 25 – 28 2011



Every year, Whistler is a word that crops up in our conversations with friends sometime in late winter.  When do we go?  What will we do this coming summer? Bike? Hike? Paddle the river?  We have been taking an annual trip to Whistler with two other families over the last 12 years, with just a couple of missed summers.  Our friend’s brother owns a condo above Blackcomb and invites us to stay one week out of the year.  There’s room for at least 12 people, although that’s pushing it.  The kids are growing up, and we’re growing older, so we’re finding we need a little more space.

Five families attended throughout the week at various times.  We arrived on a Monday and stayed until Thursday, another family arrived Wednesday, and the rest arrived the week before.  One family stayed in a different condo and added a brother and some friends to their group.  The families keep growing, which only adds to the fun.  We always find something to do, although sometimes it takes us until noon to get out the door!

On previous years we took a Hum-V ride up the steep slopes, swam in Lost Lake, rode bikes on miles of dirt and paved trails, rode the gondola to the top of the mountain for a BBQ dinner at the lodge, swam in the indoor pool, to name just a few of the many summertime activities around Whistler.

Summer in Whistler/Blackcomb Village is quite a sight.  There are all kinds of kid-friendly activities in the village during the day, including putt-putt golf, bouncy toys, bungee rides, a trapeze, horseback rides, and a luge run.  There are also plenty of restaurants and shops around the two villages.

At night, the younger crowd comes out.  There are sometimes hundreds of people crowding the little cafes and bars all over Whistler Village.  This year, though, we just missed Crankworx, a huge downhill biking tournament that happened the weekend before we arrived.  Therefore, most of the young people left.  The village was pretty dead at night.  I don’t mind that too much, as it’s easier to get a table in a restaurant.  It is a little more difficult if you’re an entertainer in one of the clubs or bars.

Monday night, after a quick dinner, we were ready to go start our vacation. We walked the path down through the village to the Longhorn Saloon.  There were not too many people there, and we were able to play a bit of pool and catch up on our busy lives.  The saloon spokesman announced there would be a trivia contest, so we decided to play along.  Many of the questions on movies, music, and sports were from our generation (old!) so we ended up winning the contest!  Our prize was $50 in beverages and a giant plate of nachos that we could claim the next evening.

We then walked down to Dubh Linn Gate, located in the Pan Pacific Hotel, for some quality entertainment.

According to the pub’s website, Dubh Linn, or “black pool” is an Irish phrase “…given to the dark pool of water that still lies today beneath the proud heart of Dublin City. Located close to what is now the gate of the Guinness Brewery, the dark waters from this pool were the inspiration for Arthur Guinness’ ‘Perfect Pint’.  Guinness has been brewed in Dublin since 1759.”

The beautiful wooden bar and interior of the pub was crafted in Ireland, shipped over and re-assembled for an authentic Irish touch.  It’s easy to forget we’re in the middle of a Canadian ski resort when the leaded glass doors close and the sun sets.

Damian Brennan

For the third year in a row, we saw our favorite Irish troubadour, Damian Brennan.  He plays acoustic guitar at Dubh Linn Gate throughout the summer.   We befriended him after we bantered back and forth with him throughout his performances a couple of years ago.  There was such a big group of us; it was hard for him to ignore our raucous behavior! We sang along, pounded tables, and clapped to the beat of his guitar.  We attended his show night after night; and even on the quietest nights, he got a hearty laugh and a good-spirited heckle from us.

Crowd at Dubh Linn Gate

Brennan, originally from Belfast, Ireland, learned to sing and play music at an early age.  He became hooked on Van Morrison and The Beatles and knew that music would be a major part of his life.  Brennan moved to Canada in 1989 and has since performed as a solo artist, formed the band Murphys Lagh and Brennan and Sabir.  He studied traditional Irish music theory and currently teaches the Bodhran drum, tin whistle, guitar and voice on Skype and at music camps.

Bodhran Drum

There were seven of us Monday night, and we were ready to stir things up.  The rest of the gang saw him play the night before.  We walked in to a pretty quiet crowd.  He stopped and shouted, “Seattle’s here, everyone–Seattle!”  We responded with our usual, “Woooo!” and took a seat near the stage.

Brennan’s music is a variety of traditional Irish ballads, classic rock and pop, and our favorite selections of more bawdy Irish tunes, as well as a few jokes in between.  When we walked in, he was playing “Whiskey in a Jar,” followed by Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” then right into “Bad Moon Rising.”  We then requested “Alice (Alice?  Who the feck is Alice?),” which according to Damian, we can repeat, only if we use the word “feck,” which is the totally acceptable alternative to the other very offensive four-letter word.   He said his mum used to call him that all the time: “Get outta here, you little fecker, and go play in the road!”

We then ordered a round of Irish car bombs (take 1/2 glass Guinness, drop in a shot of 1/3 Jameson and 2/3 Bailey’s, drink it down in 1.5 seconds), including one for Damian to get things going.  He toasted the crowd, “Here’s to you, here’s to me/Friends forever we shall be/But if we should ever disagree/Feck you…here’s to me!

Naughty Nellies, a.k.a. Irish Car Bombs

Our other favorite bawdy song was next: “Seven Drunken Nights,” a little ditty about a husband who kept finding the boots, horse, head, uh, carrot, etc.  of another man when he’d come home after drinking every night of the week, and exclaim, to her, “Hey Wife!”  It’s a great table-pounding song.

He slowed it down a bit and dedicated the next song, “When You Were Sweet 16” to an Irish couple on their honeymoon.  Other songs that evening included:

Brown Eyed Girl

Wild Rover

Space Cowboy

Let It All Hang Out

I’m In Love With a Jersey Girl

Free Fallin’

Run To You

Drunken Sailor

Brennan ended the show with Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” which got the audience singing along and pounding out, “bah, bah bah!”

We chatted with him briefly before grabbing a big slice of pizza down in the village and hailing a taxi home.

On Tuesday, after a day of play in the village and excellent home-made tacos back at the condo, we ventured out fairly late.  First, we went to the Longhorn Saloon to claim our prize from the previous night.  We thought we were full from our taco dinner, but managed to eat our way through the giant plate of nachos.  We ended up spending more than our $50 allowance, but we left happy and victorious.  Part of the party went home, as it was approaching 10:30 by the time we left the saloon.  I stayed with the guys.

Of course, we had to check in on Damian to see what he was playing Tuesday.  We walked in, and caught his eye.  Without missing a beat, he sternly said, “You’re late,” and continued right back into his song.  We laughed and took our seats on the side of the stage.  It was a quiet night all over the village, and Dubh Linn was no exception.  There was a small crowd, but another table of fairly young people on the opposite side of the stage, that eventually helped liven things up.

Empty Glasses

We bought another round of car bombs and one for Brennan, although he begged us not to.  Another toast, and into a nice acoustic version of Mumford and Sons “Little Lion Man.”

The Rattlin' Bog

The rowdy table on the opposite side of the stage requested a traditional Irish song, “The Rattlin’ Bog” but he said he didn’t know all of the words.  One girl confidently said she knew them, and came up on the stage to sing them.  He accompanied her while she brought the crowd to cheers with her version of the song, which was similar to “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” where each item in the verse is added to the next in the chorus.  It was great fun.

He also played “I Lost My Heart to a Galway Girl,” “500 Miles” (although this is a Scottish song!) and ended with “Gloria” followed by and encore of “Jude,” once again engaging the audience to sing along.

We walked home, late again.

We tried to sleep in, but with little kids impatiently waiting to come downstairs (we were snug in the hide-a-bed in the living room) it was impossible to do so.  We dragged around until almost noon before making a decision as to what to do on our last full day in Whistler.

2010 Olympics Ski Jump

Our little family decided to go to the 2010 Olympic Biathlon and Ski Jump Park that day.  It’s located a few miles outside of Whistler, down the hill about 5 miles.  There is an information building as well as tours of both  facilities.  The boys got a chance to shoot .22 rifles at the biathlon range.  Our son had a blast learning to shoot the very small targets.  We watched the Olympic biathlon on TV, and realized this was no easy task to cross-country ski, then drop down and shoot accurately.

Olympic Biathlon Range

Afterward we picked up some lunch at The Beetroot Cafe (very good selection of sandwiches, wraps and salads) and then I took the boy to see “Harry Potter VII, Part 2.”  I was drained after the emotional final chapter and we came home and collapsed.

One family had left that morning, and we invited another family, who was staying at a separate condo, over to dinner.  We barbecued hamburgers, chicken and hot dogs and feasted once again.  Our group was getting tired (they were on Night 7, while we were only on Night 3) and after a couple of rounds of “Apples to Apples,” they were in for the night.  I was getting antsy, though, knowing this was to be our last night before heading home early on Thursday.

I kept looking over at P across the table, when everyone else was ready to turn in.  He knew I needed to get out for a while.  I convinced him he needed to get out and get a good walk in tonight (he walks every day, but we drove everywhere today and needed to get a little exercise).  It was now about 9:30.  Finally, we got out the door and into the cool night air.

The weather, although we did have some clouds and rain earlier in the week, had cleared up this day.  It was a beautiful night for a walk.

We walked directly to Dubh Linn Gate and took our usual seat.  Brennan was on a break between sets.  Yes, we were late again, I exclaimed to him!  We’d had a busy day with lots of family stuff going on.  We were the only survivors to make it out the door that night.  We’d do our best to liven up the very quiet crowd.  We thought last night was pretty quiet, but tonight was tough.  It must be hard to try to crack jokes and play to an audience who isn’t paying any kind of attention or giving feedback except for a few claps once in a while.

He played some of the same songs, but added a nice ballad called “Four Green Fields,” which represented the four regions of Mother Ireland.  It was a beautiful rendition.  We helped rouse up the crowd when he played “Seven Drunken Nights” again, and yelled our loudest, “Hey, Wife!”  when required.

Although we found it more challenging to sing along with just the two of us, we managed to have a fun night and had a little chat with Damian after the show.

Thursday morning we dragged out of bed at 7:30 and headed home.  We were delayed almost two hours on the US border before finally pulling in to our driveway close to 3:00.

Late that evening, as we were drifting off to sleep, we received a text from one of our friends: “Hey, Wife!”

They’d gone back  to Dubh Linn without us.

August 2, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Damian Brennan, Music | , , , , | Leave a comment