Pittsburgh Happenings: Dance, Dance, Wherever You May Be

Pittsburgh Happenings:
Dance, Dance, Wherever You May Be

By Diane Byrnes

November ushers in a fantastic colorful foliage in lush shades of red, orange, yellow and orange.  This is a perfect time to enjoy the fall festivities that are planned! Although many folks are still impacted by Covid, as many are still leery to go out and play!

River City Brass Band
For those who do go out, a wide world of music opens up!  This month the River City Brass Band (RCB) celebrates their 40th anniversary.  RCB is the only full time Brass Band in America.  The twenty-eight piece ensemble tours extensively throughout America and performs more than thirty-five concerts in a season as part of their community concert series, along with many other concerts.

James Gourley is Artistic and General Conductor and has been the conductor for the past seven years.  Born in Scotland, he met with success on the Tuba early in life and today, along with all of his accomplishments, he is International Vice President of the International Tuba and Euphonium Association.  He is also an excellent entertainer!

They perform some unique themed concerts in several venues in the region.  This month the RCB kick off their season with a 40th Birthday Bash and music of the 1940s, with composers such as Glen Miller, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Benny Goodman.

In December the RCB perform their annual ‘Christmas Brasstacular’ concert, which is better than figgy pudding!  There are lots of favorite holiday hits and music from family movies.  An excellent program!

And in March it is the ‘Celtic Connections’ concert, with both Irish and Scottish music, Irish dancers, and pipers, with world champion piper Andrew Carlisle, originally from the North of Ireland and a teacher of the pipes at Carnegie Mellon University.  I will have more about this concert at a later date.

Throughout November, our Irish organizations are still working at planning and organizing their programs for the season. However, Covid has been playing havoc with them and some folks are still afraid to go out socially.

Pittsburgh Ceili Club
The Pittsburgh Ceili Club (PCC) will present their monthly Ceili at the American Legion Post 15 in Aspinwall on Saturday, November 6th.  The PCC is effective in insuring that folks can enjoy themselves with music, refreshments, and camaraderie.  They are quite experienced at this as they have been organizing and planning events and Ceili’s for at least thirty years and they do a good job.

Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh
The Gaelic Arts Society (GAS) of Pittsburgh also offers the community very interesting programs. On Sunday, November 21, the GAS will host Gerald F. O’Neil of Duquesne University.  He will present the Rooney Library and his book “Pittsburgh Irish – Erin on the Three Rivers”. Gerry O’Neil is a teacher, student, sound engineer, gardener, historian and author.

While the Pittsburgh area has a rich history that includes many groups of immigrants, this book concentrates on Irish immigrants and all they brought to this region.  Gerry has assembled interesting history on the early families in the Pittsburgh area.  These folks brought with them their hopes and dreams for a better life.  They brought their work ethic and their language, much of which has been absorbed into our Pittsburgh vocabulary.

This presentation promises to be a very intellectually stimulating afternoon.  All presentations will be at 2pm to 3pm at Carlow University, Palumbo Hall on the corner of Craft and Fifth Avenue.  There is free parking across the street andrefreshments will follow.

Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle
in The Strip area of Pittsburgh is one of two Irish Pubs and music venues.  They are opened Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00am.  Every Tuesday they offer a Ceili night, and many Wednesdays through Saturdays, ‘live’ music is performed. 

Some of the best performers and musicians have graced the stage with their talent.  Covid, periodically, has put a damper on the music as it is not always possible to project who will be performing.  Our local talent had done a spectacular job entertaining us both on the back deck and on the inside stage.

Riley’s Pour House
in Carnegie is the second Irish Pub and music venue.  Reilly’s is open seven days a week, offering an extensive menu, with breakfast on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00am.  They have been voted one of the best Irish Pubs in the area. This Pub is a hub for watching the Pittsburgh Steelers on TV; a variety of musical talent performs several nights throughout the week.

We are moving into the season of curling up on the sofa with a good book and not stopping until it is finished.  Over the past several months I had the opportunity to do such a thing, I read three exciting books, mostly non-fiction with a hint of truth, and all taking place a long time ago.

The first one was “Athenry” by Cahal Dunne.  This book is Cahal’s tribute to the strength and forbearance of the Irish as told through the lives of two families affected by the Penal Laws.  These laws were the motions that put into effect the Great Hunger.  “Athenry’ is a well written historical fiction that just might inspire you to learn more about The Great Hunger.  This book can be purchased in any good book store or go to Cahal’s website,

The second book is “Briarhill to Brooklyn” by Jack Bodkin.  This book is about an Irish family’s journey to freedom and opportunity. This story has Da and Mam and eight children, some of their spouses and an uncle who is a Catholic Bishop.  The family travels from County Galway to Brooklyn, New York.  The stories here encompass the period of the Great Hunger to the American Civil War.

There are some good life lessons in this book – love, honor, sharing, generosity and general caring for your fellow man / woman.  This book can also be purchased in any good book store or from Jack Bodkin’s URL at Briarhill to Brooklyn by Jack Bodkin | BRIARHILL TO BROOKLYN.

The Third book is “Rockaway Blue” by Larry Kirwan.  This is a book about the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2011.  A tearjerker for sure, but also a marvelous story that many of us could relate to. 

This book took Larry Kirwan almost twenty years to write.  We learn about a family whose son, a policeman, was killed in the tower and the circumstances of his death.  We laugh, we cry, and don’t we wonder why? 

This is another dynamic story by a very accomplished author & musician. Colum McCann, author, writes a compelling review, “it is Kirwan with Rockaway Blue.  He knows the moment when the thorn enters the skin.”

It was quite difficult to put any of these three books down until I finished reading; in all of them I laughed, cried, and felt so satisfied upon completion.  I encourage you to read them, go to your library or a good bookstore, or and order.

*Diane is the Producer & Host of Echoes of Erin on WEDO 810AM, Sundays 12:30pm; Online 1:30pm (then click on Listen Live). Email: [email protected]

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