The first Irish seisiun arrived in Olympia shortly after the opening of the Evergreen State College. Several “greeners” hosted seisiuns on Mud Bay Road in the 70’s. In the 80’s it moved to a pub on Columbia Street, but winnowed to only skilled players. When they left town, as “greeners” do, the seisiun shrank to two players, Kevin Gow and Burt Meyer. They decided to “open” it to all musicians and provided tune lists and music to help those new to Irish music. It quickly grew, and thrived for nearly 20 years, spawning a variety of seisius to take it’s place. There are now several regular seisiuns in Olympia where the traditional music of Ireland thrives.
A seisiun may be “closed” where only certain musicians may play, or “open”, where anyone with enough ability to add to (or not detract from) the music is welcome. Half a dozen “regulars” lay down a strong foundation on fiddle, concertina, guitar, banjo, flute, mandolin, and penny whistle. The sound swells as the “occasionals” add instruments, such as bodhran (Irish frame drum), button accordian, harmonica, bass, cittern, bones, and several sorts of bagpipes. After 3 or 4 tunes the musicians give their fingers a rest as an unaccompanied voice leads a song with a chorus for all, patrons included, to sing along.
Though the Columbia Street Seisiun no longer exists as a regular seisiun, many of it’s members hold an annual reunion on New Years Eve afternoon at Tugboat Annie’s where they play tunes, sing songs, dance, and raise a glass at 4 pm (midnight Dublin time) to themselves and to their family and friends in Ireland. Slainte!
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1630 Madrona Bch Rd NW
Olympia, WA 98502
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