Aplscruf's Music, Art, and Literature Blog

The Dubh Linn Gate, Whistler, B.C.

July 23-25, 2010

Damian Brennan of Murphy’s Lagh

The Dubh Linn Gate

Damian Brennan of Murphy's Lagh

Damian Brennan performed two sets a night over the long weekend, and we were present for most of them.  We saw him for the first time last year at The Dubh Linn Gate.  He is an Irish troubadour, now stationed in Vancouver, and part of a four-piece band called Murphy’s Lagh.  When he came to Whistler last year, he brought along his lovely fiddle player, Shamma Sabir.  She was not along this time, apparently attending Fiddle Camp on Saltspring Island.  We didn’t expect him to be there at all, since he was not listed on the Dubh Linn Gate’s website when we checked the week before we left.

We have been coming up to Whistler for over a decade, with a few breaks here and there.  Every year there is a new source of entertainment.  Some years it was in the form of new babies, new spouses, new friends.  Lately, it’s been new music and outdoor activities.   We are part of a group of three families that head up annually for a week of relaxation.  Our family usually stays about 4 or 5 days over a weekend due to our work schedules, but we usually pack in an 18  hour day every day.  Unfortunately, we’ve missed a couple of incredible nights of fun when we left early.  Some old college friends also joined us this year.  They are new empty-nesters and were ready for some time to themselves and time to catch up with all of us. 

Day one, Friday

We made plans to go to the Dubh Linn Gate first thing, as soon as the kids were comfortable with their sitter.  We walked from the condo straight to the Dubh Linn to find our favorite Irishman entertaining a small crowd on the patio.  It was a warm, clear evening, so we were happy to sit outside for a while.

We sat pretty far away from Mr. Brennan at first.  I didn’t have my glasses, so it was hard to tell it was even him.  We first had to “initiate” our old college friends into our crazy Whistler world and ordered a round of  Naughty Nellies for all eight of us.  A Naughty Nellie (there is another politically incorrect Northern Irish name for them that will not be posted here) is made up of 1/3 pint of Guinness, a shot glass of 2/3 Baileys and 1/3 Jameson dropped into the Guinness and quickly (or slowly) gulped down.  I believe my husband can finish one in about 1.5 seconds.  Our old buddies were in awe, and ready to hang with us after that! 

And then things proceeded to get rowdy.  Damian remembered, somehow, that we were here last year and from Seattle.  He started making a game of it, and every time he yelled out, “Seattle!” we whooped in return.  We overruled the quiet and polite audience.  The hotel patrons who were there to eat and enjoy a quiet acoustical performance were sadly mistaken.

At 10:00 we had to move the party inside (live music noise rule), so we had a few minutes to get settled in our seats at the bar right across from the musician’s area and small dance floor.  We had such a great time heckling Damian and requesting ridiculous songs that he refused to play such as Like a Virgin or YMCA, or ones we wanted to hear over and over again.  He yelled at us, “You should have been here earlier, I already played that one!”  I yelled back, “But the traffic was terrible!”  He agreed, as he also drove in from Vancouver. 

He played many Beatles covers over the three nights we saw him including Blackbird, Norwegian Wood, Jude, Let It Be, Don’t Let Me Down, and more.  He also played lots of Van Morrison: Brown Eyed Girl, Gloria, to name a couple.  Neil Diamond was also on the list, and he got the audience singing along with Sweet Caroline…Bah, Bah, Bah!   A good table-pounding song.   The traditional Irish songs were lovely, but the ones that stirred up the crowd were the dirty and more lively ones, such as Alice (Alice? Who the F@#* is Alice?!), Irish Rover, Black Velvet Band, and Seven Drunken Nights (Hey, Wife!).  We stole the show more than once with our table-pounding, whooping and heckling.

At one time, he mentioned he enjoyed Seattle and played at Kells before.  We all yelled back, “No you haven’t!  You said you couldn’t get in there!”  He laughed and said, “Oh, that must have been Portland!”  I guess Kells in Seattle won’t call him or reply to his emails.  We’ll have to work on that.  [Update: Mr. Brennan wrote to his Seattle fans in late July and said Kells would, in fact, host him in November.  I verified with Kells, and they also will schedule him to play every 6 weeks in 2011]  He did say later that he played at the Owl ‘N’ Thistle in Greenwood.

We were also entertained by the audience members who would go up to the dance floor and try to dance.  This time, there was a very polished older couple who could really dance.  They did some Irish step dancing, ballroom and swing.   It was fun watching them swirl and step gracefully across the floor.

Damian and Tyler SpoonMan

Also, Damian called up Tyler, a very youthful bar tender.  He played spoons as an accompaniment to a couple of songs.  He was amazing!  He must be a drummer; he was able to keep up perfect time with tempo changes, etc.  We requested Tyler the next two nights and would chant his name until Damian called for him over the microphone.

Although Friday was supposed to be the “Ease into Whistler” night, we ended up closing down the bar!  We were one of the few groups left who stayed till the very end.  Damian actually asked us to come back, saying he needed us there! ha  I guess he enjoyed the banter.  I was hoping they didn’t blacklist us from the bar.  They enjoy our money, though.

Day Two, Saturday

Everyone was in for Round 2 at the Dubh Linn Gate.  We promised ourselves we’d take it a bit easy tonight.  Part of our group got there right on time, but P and I stayed back with one of the dads while he tried to get his daughter to bed.  We gave up waiting for him and walked down by ourselves.  We walked in and the rest of the party had already ordered drinks and a round of Naughty Nellies for us and were sitting closer to the front on the patio.  Our college friends showed up, followed shortly by our friend who finally managed to sneak away after his daughter fell asleep.  

We were greeted by Damian, “Seattle!  (Woo!) Seattle’s here, everyone.  They keep ordering drinks, but never seem to get drunk!”  And we replied as a chorus: “Woo!”  Every time things got quiet, he would yell, “Seattle!” Woo!

As the evening wore on, a bachelorette party came in and took up two tables near the front.  I immediately felt old as the attention turned to the young, beautiful 20-somethings.  They were all dressed up and ready to flirt and party.  I couldn’t help but smile.  They were so full of life and love.  They happened to be from the Issaquah area, and another table next to us was also from the Seattle area, so we were the official Seattle cheering section.  We entertained those around us by slamming the Nellies down.  Soon the girls joined in, and things got loud. 

Again, we had to move inside at 10:00.  We were getting tired after our long night last night.  We soaked up with some great soda bread and anther pitcher of water.  The bachelorette party moved on to another bar during the intermission.  We got to talk to Damian briefly and requested a few songs again.  He said it was different playing a solo show, but that was ok, he said…”I get drunker!”

Inside The Dubh Linn Gate


A dude in a utili-kilt, long, curly black hair and a nose ring did a little jig outside and joined us inside.  He danced with his buddy, danced with a couple other girls, then turned the hell out of his knee and down he went!  “Piper Down!” we yelled.  But it wasn’t so funny.  He stayed down for quite some time, and winced in pain.  Later, he got up with an “I’m ok!”  I hope he didn’t suffer any permanent damage, poor guy.

We had a phone call from our son.  One of the little ones woke up not too happy, so it was time to go.  We left early, but hoped to get a little more sleep that night.

Day 3, Sunday…Detox Day (?)

Summit of Whistler

We had a refreshing and relaxing day and afternoon.  Had a wonderful salmon dinner at the top of the mountain.  It was so beautiful and just the perfect temperature up there.  We rode the gondola back down and saw 6 black bears grazing through a sloping green pasture.

We had to walk through the village again on our way back home…right by the Dubh Linn.  Damian spotted us immediately when we stopped next to the low patio wall.  “Oh, look!  Seattle’s back…Seattle!”  “Woo!” we said in return.  He asked why we were so late, then realized we had the kids with us.   My teenage son smiled at me as he told me he thought we were all effing crazy.

We weren’t planning on going to go to the Dubh Linn that night (this was Detox Day), but after a 5 second discussion, we sent the sitter home with the kids less one, and through the patio gate we went!  We had one group sit in the family section with the little one, and four of us sat in the bar section, close to our friends.  We were in the back again, but the banter continued.  It was a Sunday night, and the place was packed, this time with an older crowd.  Damian introduced the Sunday crowd to his Seattle friends and told them again how we drink and don’t get drunk.  We ordered him a Nellie…again. 

There were a lot of children around, so he had to watch his tongue during the more colorful songs.  He would beg the parents to please cover their ears!  Two adorable little girls were standing on the patio wall and he would talk to them in between songs.  The parents would tell them what to say back to him.  He pretended they were his children at one point in order to get more tip money to pay for their dinner tonight, new shoes, etc.

At 10:00, we decided we’d better leave.  We lost half our group by that point.  We gave him one last tip, took a pic and said we hoped to see him in Seattle sometime, otherwise, we’d be here same time next year!  I shouted one more feeble “Seattle!” as we passed through the door and headed home.

[Update: Damian Brennan is to play in Seattle sometime in November at Kells and The Owl ‘N’ Thistle, as well as every 6 weeks at Kells in 2011]

July 28, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Damian Brennan, Murphy's Lagh, Music, Shamma Sabir | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Murphy’s Lagh Whistler, B.C. July 2009


We went to Whistler at the end of July for our annual parents and kids crazy trip. This time, we had a little more “adult” time, as the kids are getting older and respond well to babysitters.   

We went to the Irish pub, The Dubh Linn Gate two nights in a row and listened to Murphy’s Lagh, made up of Damian Brennan and Shamma Sabir. So amazing. Old Irish tunes and lots of Beatles, U-2 and Van Morrison covers. We had fun pounding on the table for one of the Irish numbers. I suggested they play Norwegian Wood, so they obliged. Shamma was an amazing fiddler. I don’t think she ever missed a note. She’s ranked with the top 10 fiddlers of Canada. Damian, with pleasant Irish brogue and tenor vocals, played acoustic guitar. They play regularly in Vancouver and Whistler, but haven’t made it to Seattle yet. Bummer!  








February 6, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2009, Damian Brennan, Murphy's Lagh, Music, Shamma Sabir | , , | Leave a comment