There was a guy playing who’s there quite often and even though I’m not a huge fan of guys belting out Irish tunes while they whale away on a guitar, there is no questions he was very, very good at his job and the packed house loved him. He has a very good voice too, but beyond that and his command of that style of guitar playing I couldn’t help but admire his act.
For a performer just starting out and trying to break into the fairly lucrative world of doing a single in resort communities, or anywhere really, checking this guy out could be very educational indeed. He didn’t do just Irish tunes, although there were plenty of those (“Wild Rover” “Whiskey in the Jar” and of course “Danny Boy”) – he also did many of the tunes that, at least around here, have stood the test of time on the singles circuit, stuff like “Amie,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Sweet Caroline” (how could he NOT play that one in Red Sox Land??!) but also dug even deeper into John Denver songs and the like, tunes that I thought had faded away long ago. Apparently not.
And the crowd sung along with virtually every tune, with great gusto if not perfect pitch – ha! My wife commented afterwards that it wasn’t just we oldsters singing along. Even the 20-somethings sang the John Denver tunes. This was curious – we concluded that perhaps their parents (or grandparents!) played recordings of Denver for them?
Now here’s the take-away for anyone hoping to work into doing a single in bars, Irish or otherwise. This guy was an absolute bundle of energy and in his hour-plus sets there was absolutely NO down-time. The instant he stopped playing and even before the clapping stopped he was already enthusiastically and loudly talking to the audience and I doubt more than 30 seconds elapsed between tunes, all of which were up-tempo. His pacing was excellent, he showed tons of energy and clearly loved what he was doing. This was infectious and the audience was his from moment one.
The only downside has more to do with me than him. It was LOUD in there. I mean, scream into the ear of the person sitting next to you, loud. If it had not been that loud would he have had the reaction and attention of the audience? Unlikely at best. So I get it, I understand why it needs to be that way. God bless him and I’m sure he’ll continue to be popular and work as much as he wants to. That’s what being a work-a-day musician strives for. But oh man, I think my ears are still ringing. It will take me some time to build up the fortitude to return to that bar!
Could be worse, one of my friends said. At least people can’t smoke in bars anymore!
Peace & good (quieter?) music,