Mkay, so I had this thing mostly typed, was feeling pretty good about it, then we had a gig at a new to us pub. Now, this is what we hope will become a regular occurrence, it is unique in a few ways to what the current pubs are doing. First, when I say this is a new pub, I mean it was COMPLETELY new to us, performing wise, and that my friends is a REALLY rare thing between the three of us. We’ve been performing in Phoenix for long enough that we’ve seen the rise and fall of several Irish pubs, and have played ALL of them. Except Irish Wolfhound up to recently.
Let me tell you, I always get a little case of the nerves before a performance. If I didn’t, I’d be having serious second thoughts about continuing musi. The reasoning? If I’m not nervous, I no longer care about the music and what it means to both the audience, and myself. This set of nerves though was SNEAKY. I thought I was FINE, just a little nervous, but as the day got closer, it started hitting harder. I was vibrating at a high pitch by the time we were setting up for the performance.
Thankfully it was AMAZING. Which is the rest of what I wanted to write about. Contrary to popular belief, most people can’t run on food and water alone for sustenance. Or at least I can’t. I need music. I need the give and take between a performer and their audience and dear Gods the crowd at the Wolfhound is unreal, in all the good ways. It has been a bloody long time since I’ve seen the crowd pound the tables and the bar, and the roar of the crowd after a particularly rowdy song tastes just as delicious as a fine cheesecake.
But what does the Wolfhound do differently, you ask? It was brought up at the beginning and everything. First is a technical thing: there isn’t a drop ceiling in the pub. The ceiling is bare/industrial/exposed…Whatever it’s called when the ceiling is effectively the underside of the roof. This changes the acoustics and allows for the sound to bounce and carry farther and better. Second is they purposefully remove several tables to make sure there’s room for dancing should someone fancy that. NONE of the current pubs do that. There is very very little room anywhere for dancers. Which is sad because in times past, step dancers were a regular thing on nights where there was live music (I know for certain on this, I was one of those dancers.) This gives us machinations of making sure ALL the Irish dance schools in the Valley know when we’re playing there next.
Thirdly is the bar staff there dancing and jamming along to the music. It has been SO freakin’ long since I saw anything like that and it was so much FUN seeing that. I can’t wait to go back and give them more good music to jam to while they work.
The last thing has very little to do with the music and a whole lot to do with the well documented fact that I have hobbit tendencies when it comes to food.
My friends, the food at this pub is glorious. Most people make a ‘blech’ face when I say Irish Fare, but those poor philistines don’t know what they’re doing. The menu at the Irish Wolfhound has some regular pub fare, burgers, pretzel, sliders…but they have traditional Irish food as well. There is a dish that I have had exactly twice now, and the first time was so good it became a core memory for me. This is Coddle. it’s boiled bacon and root vegetables in broth. Basically ‘pot roast’ made with bacon.
Now, y’all. This is not American bacon. American bacon is the sad, tail end leavings of real bacon, which when cooked for coddle isn’t cut into thin strips, it’s left whole, and cooked to the point that it is melt-in-your-mouth tender. The veg was perfectly done, the broth made my eyes roll back in my head. It was so good.
That dish of Coddle I had at the Wolfhound beat out the Coddle I had in the airport in Dublin. THAT is how good it was.
For me at least food is one of those things that yeah, it’s fuel. Rationally it is literally calories in, calories out. GOOD food is even better because it feeds something emotional in me, soothes something like a balm over a sunburn. More, it shows that the people MAKING the food care about what they’re making, and that is so very rare and impressive these days.
This all boils down to say that the second to last weekend in July was AMAZING and I seriously can’t wait to perform there again. And in the last of this, I want to pose a question: what is that balm to your soul?