Aplscruf's Music 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

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