The walls of John D. McGurk's front room are covered with framed photos of musicians who have played on its stage -- men and women armed with guitars, fiddles, bodhran drums and Uilleann pipes, musicians who have kept Irish folk music alive and well in St. Louis. Kevin Buckley is playing his fiddle on this narrow stage directly below a framed photo of himself in slightly younger days; the same benevolent intensity is evident in his eyes both in photograph and in person.
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The Irish Brigade, the Minnesota-based duo of Mike Wallace and Joe Smith that performs a few month-long stints at the Soulard pub each year, is holding court on this uncrowded Wednesday night. Buckley sits in with them regularly, and tonight the trio works through "Down by the Salley Gardens" before launching into a full-throated take on the Beatles' "The Long and Winding Road" (McCartney is an Irish surname, after all).
Buckley says little and sings less; he's an apt sideman in this modest setting, and when the band moves away from sing-alongs and Pogues covers to instrumental jigs and reels, Buckley shines. His skills on the fiddle have given him prominence in the Irish folk world, and alongside fellow St. Louisan Ian Walsh, Buckley plays traditional folk tunes at McGurk's every Monday night. More »