I recommend putting on ‘There Will Be Better Days’ by Midnight Trio while you read this.
I’ll give you a moment.
You’re in the smoking area again. You don’t want this cigarette. You’re only out here because it’s so sweaty inside. What’s in there? Techno. Or maybe it’s EDM or Drum and Bass. It doesn’t matter, your ears are ringing now anyway. It was fun, being in there, until your card started getting declined. Now you’re sober, burning your lungs, drenched in sweat, and worse still: standing. All the seats were taken so you’re standing in the smoking area. It’s a shame, you had set aside these clothes to look nice tonight. They only lasted about two hours and thirty-five minutes. They’ll need a wash now. You can put on a wash at home. You’ll have to because you’ve no clean clothes left.
So you walk home. Broke and stinky.
Then as you stroll through the Liberties, and then Smithfield, (I have decided you live in Stoneybatter, you’re welcome). You hear taps and chimes of percussion leak through doors mid-swing as other pub-goers make the same decision as you. To go home. You hear the odd horn, an infrequent tinkling of piano keys, and maybe some bass if you’re lucky. On your way, you think about how your night could have gone if you had gone to a jazz club instead.
First, I’d like to disclaim any inferred defamation of DJsor any form of electronic music DJs are essential for sustaining the Dublin music scene. However, the nature of electronic music requires enthusiasm and this enthusiasm, for many, needs fuel. This fuel comes in many forms: alcohol, self-esteem, etc. (I’m sure nothing illegal). Not everyone has the budget or the capacity to take part.
“Jazz is chill. It is not overbearingly loud and therefore encourages conversation. Jazz creates a relaxed social environment that can be appreciated alone or with company. “
There is a presumption when it comes to music that to enjoy it you must be either ready to party or know the artist in advance. This is not true when it comes to jazz. I’m sure you’ve heard the regular pompous remarks from self-proclaimed jazz aficionados, studying hard from their parents’ mansion in D4, that Jazz is “music in its purest form” and is “made to be appreciated, not just listened to”. I disagree. Jazz is chill. It is not overbearingly loud and therefore encourages conversation. Jazz creates a relaxed social environment that can be appreciated alone or with company.
If you want to relax, not break the bank, and have a fun night with friends or solo, I highly recommend exploring Dublin’s sparkling Jazz scene.
(8:00-11:00pm, Wednesday) – Luckys, 78 Meath Street, The Liberties
Get here before 7 pm and enjoy a pizza and pint (or glass of wine) for €13. While you rub your belly and finish your slices, their Jazz trio serenades your post-scran slumber. You can expect a sound similar to Keith Jarret or Charlie Parker. If you like, you can enjoy this evening performance without spending a cent, as entry is free. 24-hour bus lines run nearby, so you need not stress about your route home. 90s bar ‘Jackie’s’ and LGBT pub ‘All My Friends’ are just around the corner, so you’ll have no shortage of lovely spots to escape to if it ends up not being your thing.
(7:00-11:30, Thursday) – Dashi, 47 King Street N, Smithfield
If you would rather spend money on margaritas that come in a glass, look no further than Dashi’s Jazz Thursdays. The low ceilings of the basement will keep you cosy and the sound compact. Feel free to grab a chessboard off the wall and, while the music plays, challenge a friend to a match (or a stranger if you don’t have any of those). The cocktails are tasty and the venue is sandwiched between the red and green LUAS lines, so your walk home will be manageable even if you try the whole menu. This event is also free-in so you will also have extra to spend.
The Riche Buckley Quartet
(8:30p-11:30pm, Thursday) – Frank Ryans, 5 Queen Street, Smithfield
If you’ve had enough of trios, or Dashi wasn’t to your liking, just stroll south to Frank Ryans. Entry is free here too, so you might as well pop your head in. Inside you’ll find Riche Buckley himself on sax, along with his guitarist, bassist, and drummer. Buckley has worked alongside Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, and Elvis Costello and it doesn’t come as a surprise once you hear him. Frank Ryans is laid out like a traditional Irish pub and is exactly as cosy as you’d expect.
The Dirty Jazz Club
(8:30-11:30 pm, Saturday) – Arthur’s Blues & Jazz Club, 28 Thomas Street, The Liberties
This location marks the only paid entry on the list. A ticket will set you back €15, or maybe a little less at the door if you ask really nicely. Arthur’s is an exclusive Jazz and Blues bar, so you could come here any night to hang out and listen to some top-class jazz. Still, I would recommend taking time to come along on a Saturday and appreciate these guys. The Dirty Jazz Club has been prevalent in the Dublin music scene for the past 15 years, so if you enjoyed any other jazz night in Dublin you owe a portion of that to this band. Needless to say, you can’t get too upset about having to pay in because in minutes you’ll realise the benefit of paying your artists.
Recorded & Live Jazz
(5:00-6:00-8:30 pm, Sunday) – The Big Romance, 98 Parnell Street, Rotunda
Don’t worry, this one is free. From 5 pm, The Big Romance staff will start playing from their extensive record collection. Feel free to bring your own and listen to your vinyl through their amazing sound set-up. Once the clock strikes 6 pm, the music shifts to a live performance from their extremely talented Organ Freeman (Possibly one of the best performer names I’ve ever seen). Anyone who has ever been to The Big Romance has probably told you about it, and rightly so: it rocks. Its speakeasy style of decor results in a comfortable 1920s-feel venue. This event also ends early so a 9 am start on Monday is no excuse to miss it.
“Cost of living is horrendous in Dublin, but its [jazz] music scene makes things a lot more bearable if you engage with it.”
Many venues such as The Sugar Club, Whelans, The International Bar, and Bar Eile host a variety of Jazz acts throughout the week. I’d recommend keeping your eyes open for them. Usually, these are paid in and I would urge the reader to pay to listen to music if they have the means of doing so. Cost of living is horrendous in Dublin, but its music scene makes things a lot more bearable if you engage with it. Your applause and Instagram stories don’t feed the acts, so… pay up. However, not all of us can afford to and to those I recommend you enjoy the free jazz, it’ll take your mind off things for a while.