McGurk's used to be a great place to hear traditional Irish music. When
I frequented the place in the '80's through the mid '90's, it was
possible to get a seat in front of some of the very best players that
have ever played this music. Joe Burke was involved with bringing in
musicians to play and he seemed to always be able to get fine players.
The musicians would generally play 5 nights a week with the same players
usually doing about a month's worth of time.
Some of the players that I was able to see include Andy McGann, Micho
Russell, James Kelly, Paddy O'Brien, Joe Burke, Anne Conroy, Kevin
Burke, Jacky Daly, Gerry O'Connor, Martin Hayes, Tony Linane, etc. You
could go in there and see these folks play 3 or 4 sets of session tunes
and songs. The performers were accessible and usually very appreciative
if you asked for a tune. One night I asked James Kelly to play Richard
Brennan's jig. He was surprised that someone there actually knew some of
the music so after that tune he began asking our table for suggestions.
Sort of like having a live juke-box.
That last time I was in there, they had added a beer garden and the
place was so packed with young people and urban professionals that it
was difficult to get a seat near the music. The people sitting near the
musicians couldn't have cared less about the fact that these were all
fine players giving it their best. They seemed much more concerned with
things like where to go to get your SUV serviced or what is a good
They still have good players coming into McGurk's but since Joe Burke is
gone, they are usually younger and lesser known and the quality varies
quite a bit. I am reminded of a quote I heard attributed to Yogi Berra
(who is also from St. Louis), "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too
> Could you explain a little why McGurk's has "lost its luster"? I was
> only there once (I arrived in October) for a quick meal, and it
> looked like musicians were entering just as i was leaving. Other than
> that, i don't know much about the place.
> Cliff A