Erins guild

Music that’s Irish, live and free

Music Notes / By Colleen Taylor

The Screaming Orphans

Interested in free Irish music? If so, you’re in luck this autumn. Throughout September and October, Smithwick’s Ale sponsors a number of free Irish music performances throughout North America featuring some of Ireland and Irish-America’s best acts. New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia will be lively with the sounds of fiddles and guitars these next weeks—an authentic taste of Ireland at home in America.

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I took part in the Smithwick Sessions Pub Rock Tour last week at Boston’s The Green Briar, where I caught a show by Erin’s Guild, an Irish-American band out of New England. Founding members Sean Fell and Geoff Roman bring something interesting to their interpretation of Irish music: a background in classical music training. Tralee man Fell received a bachelor’s degree in classical voice, which he displayed during his Frank Petterson-like rendition of “The Fields of Athenry.” Roman’s training in classical violin was not as easy to detect amidst his rapid fiddling, but he maintains it has been an influence for his playing and tune composition for Erin’s Guild. To give a unique spin on their interpretation of traditional Irish hits, Erin’s Guild works to blend their distinct backgrounds, all the while focusing on harmonies and the stories behind the ballads’ lyrics.

Erin's Guild

The band are true to their American roots as well—something not only relevant in their geographical makeup with American members Roman and bodhrán player Susan Young, but in their set lists as well. Erin’s Guild melds their traditional Irish tracks with American classics like those of Johnny Cash. Their influences are various, as well as original: Sean and Geoff write their own songs and tunes for the band, like their ballad “Broken Man,” featured on their website This trio is still establishing their beginnings, but they have a strong notion of their roots: as an Irish-American New England band, they make the Irish tradition visible and lively throughout the Northeast.

Other acts involved in the Smithwick Sessions include big names like Mundy, The Mahones, Screaming Orphans, Black 47, along with a number of local bands. Screaming Orphans, the excellent Celtic Pop group from Donegal, will take the stage at Boston’s famous Irish pub the Burren on Oct. 2, and Black 47 will close off the Smithick’s Run with a show at Tommy Fox’s in New Jersey on Oct. 30. It’s an exciting and nostalgic year for Black 37, as they perform and promote the release of their latest—and last—album, “Rise Up,” which is available on their website In total, this two-month pub tour involves over 60 shows across the continent, and the best part is they’re all free of charge. Now there’s no excuse to catch the best of live Irish music.

Find out more about the Smithwick Sessions happening near you on their calendar of events at: