This is part of a series of reviews of bands who play weekly at local bars.
The show: Ronnie Winters at Rosie McCaffrey's.
The look: Standard Irish pub.
The smell: Residual from pub food consumed earlier in the evening.
The taste: Thick, dark, beer.
Three words/phrases to describe the night: Low key, sing along, loosened neck tie.
Who to bring with you: A close friend.
Drink of the night: Guiness.
Though much can be said about my experiences watching local bar bands over the past few months, one striking observation stands out. There are some instances when a band does a pretty good job, even if they're relegated to playing cover songs as background music to an otherwise talkative crowd. There are other instances when the band takes over the entire night, and really has no business doing so.
Both of these are a crying shame. Luckily, this night was much more the former than the latter.
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Rosie McCaffrey's is a typical Irish pub. The stage features a light up sign that continuously counts down the seconds to St. Patrick's Day. In addition to the ample crowd (particularly for a work night) the groups of mainly 30 and 40 something year old couples and collections of friends were jovial and loud, and surprisingly rarely bordered on obnoxious. (I say this not as a slight to the age demographic, but simply as a seasoned bar-goer who knows that loud plus friendly plus liquor usually equals annoying as shit.)
Though I've mentioned before my general disdain for cover bands, Ronnie Winters managed to do a decent job at making acoustic arrangements of songs that one might never consider performed in such a manner. He did it with Coldplay, Elton John, Violent Femmes, and most surprisingly, Alice in Chains.
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While Winters falls more into the category of interesting arrangements that wind up being background music, a few of his tunes did attract some attention and even the occasional group of a few friends dancing in the aisle. It also garnered the sing along every so often. The crowd was rather social and chit chatty, but when the right familiar tune came along, it turned into a pleasant distraction for patrons, and an even bigger distraction for people-watchers.
The reality is that these bar bands are most often a way to have something other than the mundane available to do on a weeknight. Given that this totally sucks for the musicians in question, it can provide us with a pleasant diversion from the depressing Phoenix summers. Consider Ronnie Winters such a diversion.