THE WENDY WANDERER: The Burren

By CELINA REYNES ’16, Contributing Writer

A few blocks from the Davis Square T stop, and only two doors down from the popular Diesel Café, a black and gold sign marks “The Burren”: a narrow, dim-lit Irish pub, lurking shyly behind its comparatively broad outdoor patio. In spite of its understated exterior, the inside of The Burren boasts one of the most vibrant, colorful and homey ambiances in the Boston area.

Tuesday nights, starting at 8:30, are open-mic nights, and they’re exceptional. What else can you expect from a venue with a stage, professional sound-system and friendly bartender (who, in my experience, is completely willing to give nervous, underage performers a soda on the house)?

Whether you’re sitting in a corner booth or one of the more exposed picnic tables in the center, it’s impossible, once the music starts, not to get swept up in the emotion and lyrical honesty that some of these local musicians bring to the stage.

Singer-songwriters from all walks of life participate. Some play covers of Irish folk songs; others join their friends in what look to be improvised performances. Still others come by themselves, and bring with them all of the calm intimacy that you would expect from a private performance. They step up to the microphone and share unbelievable stories, which one senses wouldn’t be shared—or couldn’t be shared—in any other environment.

“The next song,” announces a folksy, bearded performer (a Burren regular, according to the sound mixer), “is an original. I wrote it for a friend who died in Vietnam.”

What do you make of a place like this? The walls are covered with photographs. Some of the staff have Irish accents. The hallway separating the main seating area from the stage is narrow and high; one imagines oneself entering a giant cave. Coursing beneath all of this is the inexplicable feeling that everything you see is the real deal.

Couple this with the fact that it’s all-ages until 10 p.m., and you’ll see why The Burren is an ideal hangout for creative college students on Tuesday nights (or any other night of the week). All you have to do is take Peter to Kendall. From there, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to this fashionable, old-fashioned gem of a venue.

The Wendy Wanderer is a weekly column that reviews creative spaces in the greater Boston area.

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