Irish music is still live at Cape Cod’s O’Shea’s, it’s streaming


Either way, the music never stops at O’Shea’s Olde Inne.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the popular Irish pub for its live music has adapted and changed more than once to adhere to state guidelines – all without losing a beat. It will continue this St. Patrick’s Day with a full day of music performed in a way that has never happened during the holidays at O’Shea’s.

“Before COVID hit, we had spent about 13 years listening to music every night of the year, bar none,” says Mark Sullivan, bartender at O’Shea’s. “There were no missed nights.”

Since January 12, this nocturnal music has been virtual. Sullivan broadcast live broadcasts from local bands every night. It uses a projector on a 100 inch screen, which makes the bands look “realistic”. The audio goes through the house system.

“It’s honestly something that you almost have to go through and experience,” he says. “It’s not that I’m saying it’s mind blowing, but if you didn’t know there was a screen out there, quite frankly between the pub chatter and the music, you’d think someone was physically in the building playing. More than enough people said it was as close to normal as last year. “

This streaming music was also the plan for St. Patrick’s Day on CapeWeek’s press deadline. While Governor Charlie Baker began allowing musicians to play in restaurants again from March 1, this does not include singers, wind instruments or brass. Sullivan says that at some point there is a “slight chance” that an Irish instrumental session will be added for “a few evenings a week during dinner time.”

O’Shea’s is now approaching a year since Baker demanded its closure on St. Patrick’s Day 2020 due to the pandemic. Since then, the quaint and warm Main Street establishment in West Dennis has found its place. But it was not easy.

After being closed for almost seven months, O’Shea’s reopened on October 7 for catering and music, but under new rules: no wind or brass instruments were allowed to play in the building, so only means music using guitars, drums and pianos. and other instruments which cannot project germs into the air have been authorized.

O'Shea's Olde Inne used a giant screen for live entertainment, mostly Irish, to maintain its tradition of live music.

Sullivan says they got to do an “Irish session” and one night a week a jazz trio was performing.

“It was good because we’re a known music establishment and it was something instead of just playing music over the radio system,” Sullivan said.

This live music didn’t last long, however. State rules changed and the music stopped on December 12.

“To be completely honest, what I found out in the weeks that followed was that our Friday or Saturday night income dropped dramatically because the music was gone,” Sullivan said, noting that business was already slow to start due to COVID-19 issues. . “And because of that, that’s when I started to think maybe we could try the live streaming. It actually started largely because musicians were already doing it. “

There are two musicians in particular to whom Sullivan gives credit for “keeping the music (continuing) on ​​Cape Cod” during the pandemic, and which he regularly features at O’Shea’s: Sean and Caroline Brennan.

The Brennans are the creators and organizers of Solidarity Sessions, a unique Facebook page for watching Cape Town musicians perform virtually from their own homes. The Brennans perform on the account and play Irish music. They are also “good friends” with O’Shea’s, says Sullivan, having performed there regularly live before the pandemic.

Artists associated with the solidarity sessions which are broadcast live at O’Shea’s include Dave Hickey, Kathleen Healy, Michael DeAngelis and Sean’s band The Skiffs.

Sullivan will also broadcast artists who are not associated with the solidarity sessions.

“We try to keep it local and with the people who have performed at Inne or in the surrounding places as well,” he says. “I’m going to put it this way, if somebody’s broadcasting live, then we’re playing them.”

Solidarity Sessions shows aren’t exclusive to O’Shea’s – anyone can watch them from the band’s Facebook account – but Sullivan has set up a tip pot for these musicians and any other act he presents, all of them. the profits being donated to the artist.

If there is a night where no live music is playing, Sullivan will revert to the online videos archived on the artist accounts and play them instead. “In theory, we play music seven nights a week and five of those seven have generally been broadcast live,” he says.

O’Shea’s penchant for keeping the music up, no matter what, is in part a tribute to the late establishment owner, Joseph Shea, who loved live music and made it the center of his business.

“He never really wanted to call it an Irish pub or an Irish bar. For him, it was more of a community restaurant, a gathering place, ”says Sullivan, who has worked at O’Shea’s for about five years. “But the music was the central point. That was the driving force behind O’Shea’s, and part of what we’re trying to do with the live broadcasts is to continue as best we can with what’s going on.

Sullivan and O’Shea’s plan to make up for their “loss” on St. Patrick’s Day last year with delicious Irish food and festive music to accompany it this year. Instead of opening at 4:00 p.m., O’Shea’s will welcome guests at 11:00 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, just in time for the Solidarity Sessions Irish Music Festival.

From 11 a.m. until 11 p.m., Solidarity Sessions will host a streaming marathon of local artists playing holiday-worthy music, featuring Joe Macdonald, Nikki Engstrom and more.

“It will be a little different (at O’Shea) this year because we have limited capabilities and the whole social distancing aspect, but we anticipate it will be a fun day,” Sullivan said.

Contact Jason Savio at Follow on Twitter: @JasonRSavio.

If you are going to

What: Music at O’Shea’s Olde Inne

When: Most evenings at 4:00 p.m. for a previously taped performance and at 7:00 p.m. for a new live broadcast when available or a second taped performance. The St. Patrick’s Day Marathon kicks off at 11 a.m. and ends at 11 p.m. with all-new live music streaming. A live Irish instrumental session may be added in the future.

Or: 348 Main Street, West Dennis

Information:, 508-398-8887


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