Maybe it was the luck of the Irish. As a wave of concert, school, and event closing swept the state late last week, The Blaney Brothers managed to survive the onslaught.
On Thursday, March 12, the duo performed just in time for St. Patrick’s Day in front of a modest crowd during the library’s Irish Coffee House program, held on Thursday, March 12. Though recent public health concerns did keep some attendees away from the performance, library director Deborah Prozzo said that about 65 people decided to attend.
Scott Stanton, assistant library director, said that the coffee house program has been running at the library since 2014, and started even earlier than that at the F.N. Manross Memorial Library in Forestville. Throughout each calendar year, the Bristol Public Library holds at least twelve coffee houses, with the Irish Coffee House and the Holiday Coffee House being held most consistently.
Performing at this year’s Irish Coffee House were the brothers Rob and Jeff Blaney, known collectively as The Blaney Brothers. Their album and title track, “Irish in New England,” was part of why the library staff selected them as this year’s performers.
“They’ve hosted a number of Irish festivals both in the States and in Ireland,” said Stanton. “They are pretty well known around the Celtic music circuit, so, we were very happy to be able to get them here today.”
Long before they were playing Irish music, the Blaney Brothers were making music together. Though the song “Irish in New England,” makes mention of their grandfather, he was not the source of Irish music in their lives, nor did they grow up listening to that genre.
“We had just started playing, and because our last name is Blaney and I have the red hair, people requested it and expected it,” said Jeff Blaney. “We kind of picked up a song here and there and before you knew it we had, well, now we have somewhere between four and five hours worth of Irish music now.”
During the performance the brothers showcased their musical talent, switching back and forth between popular Celtic songs and originals, and between four instruments—an acoustic guitar, an eight string mandolin, a tenor banjo, and a five string banjo. They were even joined by their friend, Dave Connelly, a member of the local band The Bog Trotters, who brought the sounds of the flute to their rendition of “The Rising of the Moon,” by The Dubliners.
The Blaney Brothers, who were invited to play during the New Haven and Mystic St. Patrick’s Day parades before they were cancelled, performed last weekend at The Little Red Barn Brewery in Winsted, performed on Tuesday, March 17, at the Hidden Still in Ellington.
This weekend, they were scheduled to play at Donovan’s Irish Pub in Springfield, Mass., and can frequently be found playing at the Irish Cultural Center of Western New England in West Springfield, Mass. To keep up with the Blaney Brothers locally, you can find their album, “Irish in New England,” across their social media channels by searching for The Blaney Brothers, or searching “Irish in New England.”
“If you think about it, you can go to anywhere in the world—you can go to Singapore and there’s going to be an Irish pub, you know what I mean? I don’t know what it is but people just love it, and it really has permeated into American music,” said Jeff Blaney. “I run into people who have never heard it before—or they say that they don’t like it—but then when we start playing. It’s party music you know? It’s just fun, so it’s hard to not like it I think.”
The Bristol Public Library announced that the next two coffee house programs would be held on Friday, April 17, and Friday, May 15, but those programs are subject to change due to recent public health concerns.
The Observer will continue to monitor and update which events have been postponed or cancelled. For those interested in learning more about the coffee hour program, or to see the tentative schedule, please contact the library, (860) 584-7787.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at Entertainment@BristolObserver.com.