, Salem, MA

March 14, 2013

Musician ready for St. Patrick's Day

By Will Broaddus
Staff writer

---- — You don’t have to tell John Corcoran to enjoy himself on St. Patrick’s Day.

Corcoran, whose annual performance of Irish music is one of several entertainment options on the North Shore this weekend, was nearly taken off life support two years ago.

After going into a coma following cancer surgery, it wasn’t at all certain that he would walk or talk again, much less sing “Off to Dublin.” But two days later, Corcoran, 65, returned to consciousness with his tenor voice intact, and a new outlook on life.

“It changed my attitude on a lot of things,” he said. “I’m much more easygoing. Before, I was high-strung, but I don’t feel the pressure anymore.”

Corcoran’s new, laid-back performance should please his old fans at Prince Restaurant in Saugus, where he has played every St. Patrick’s Day for more than 25 years and where he will appear again on Saturday night from 7 to 11. His new fans at Rockafellas in Salem, where he played last year for the first time, will also be happy to know that he’s performing there on Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m.

“My father’s like an Irish jukebox,” said his son Sean, 39, who will perform with his father this weekend, along with bassist John Ledger. “People shout out a song, and we just do it.”

John Corcoran, a Peabody resident, taught himself to play banjo and guitar from an instructional record by Pete Seeger and “fell in love with the 12-string guitar,” which he still plays today.

He performed and recorded with Tommy Makem, a legend in the world of Irish music, and met Bob Dylan in the West Village in the 1960s.

He also played on the North Shore with his brother, Brian, as the Corcoran Brothers throughout the 1970s, when they were regulars at the Harp & Bard in Danvers.

One of 15 children, he learned Irish music from his grandfather, “especially the rebel songs.” As his own children started to perform with him, at ages 3 or 4, Corcoran’s St. Patrick’s Day performance became a family affair.

“I get a lot of people with children,” he said. “I’m getting another generation for it.”


Rockafellas, 231 Essex St., Salem, Sunday, March 17: Beer Festival with New England craft beers, corned beef, fried pickles and DJ Scottie Mac, in upstairs hall, 3 to 7 p.m. Tickets $25 at, 978-745-2411. Downstairs, no cover, 1 to 7 p.m., corned beef and cabbage dinner, with Irish music by John Corcoran. Cover band, The Pop Disaster, 7 p.m. to midnight.

Finz, 76 Wharf St., Salem. Sunday, March 17: Conor Shanahan performs acoustic Celtic music from 7 to 11 p.m., 978-744-8485.

O’Neill’s, 120 Washington St., Salem. Saturday, March 16, live Irish music, 6 to 9 p.m., and Sunday, March 17, live Irish music, 4 to 7 p.m. 978-740-8811.

Kitty O’Sheas, 298 Cabot St., Beverly: Jim Moriarty performs, noon to 4 p.m. Corned beef and cabbage served all day, along with shepherd’s pie and beef stew. 978-927-0300.

Paddy Kelly’s, 154 Washington St., Peabody. Kegs and eggs breakfast with green bagels and green beer, starting at 9 a.m., followed by corned beef and cabbage dinner. Traditional Celtic music by band Creagan More, bagpipes by Todd Crumb, sets throughout the day, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 978- 532-2370.

Ancient Order of Hibernians, 58 Lowell St., Peabody. Saturday, March 16, St. Patrick’s Day Dinner, charity raffle (tickets available at bar); Sunday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day luncheon with comedy by Steve Sweeney and Irish Step Dancers, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., $20 per person, charity raffle (tickets available at bar). Open house all weekend, nonmembers welcome. 978-531-7680.

Ancient Order of Hibernians, 104 Boston St., Salem, Sunday, March 17. Corned beef sandwiches, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Irish step dancing, 3 to 4 p.m., with girls from the Bremmer School of Irish Dance; traditional Irish dinner, 4 to 6 p.m., free for members, $5 nonmembers; Vocal Strings, trio singing Irish songs and leading singalongs, 5 to 6 p.m.; Drop Zone, 7 p.m. to midnight. Open house, nonmembers welcome. 978-744-9817.