As a music enthusiast and blogger, I live for the moments when I go into an unfamiliar venue to see a vaguely familiar band and end up being wowed by a great show. This past Saturday night (3/12/11) at the Garryowen Irish Pub with locals Lawnchair, Booker Lee and the County Fair, and The Independent Democratic Republic was that type of experience. How do I define a quality show? Factor #1, the fun factor which includes crowd enthusiasm and atmosphere. Factor #2, talent of the musicians and sound quality. So, here’s why I was “wowed” by Saturdays show.
First off, if you have never been to the Garryowen Irish Pub, note that it is located in Gettysburg, PA. Gettysburg is new territory for me, but I like what I see so far and at a mere 40 minutes out of Frederick, it doesn’t make it a bad alternative option if you need a change of pace from our downtown. The atmosphere at Garryowen’s was warm and friendly and the mostly wooden and Irish décor was quite charming. The stage area isn’t much, but there’s good lighting and a decent sound system with an appropriate amount of volume. The place was packed but I managed to find a spot front and center and later a perch on the stairwell adjacent to the stage. You could also catch glimpses of the band from the backside of the bar through an open areaway. Also, besides a good cheap beer selection, there are dining areas and food at the Pub and its pretty tasty fair often with an Irish twist. Driving and parking was a breeze. There’s no formal parking lot, but plenty street side and it’s a nice area so if you have to walk a little you won’t mind.
So, the atmosphere was obviously great. How about the music? Killer, like Charles Manson , a musical mind cult. I mean this in a very endearing way, as everyone who stepped on stage that night was a talented and seasoned musician who cared deeply about his or her individual craft. First up was Baltimore alt country rockers Lawnchair , who were the reason I was there in the first place. Seriously, I think anyone of the bands that night could have opened, close, or played in between, but I’m glad Lawnchair opened that night. There’s nothing better than starting a show out on the right foot. Lawnchair’s brand of alt country is very near to my heart, not too twangy, not too old feeling, and plenty of intricate instrument solos and riffs. They have a variety of tunes between their current album “Hard to Swallow” and the soon to be released (tentatively titled Dirt and Sky) album. Some are slow, some fast (or “foot stomping”), some happy, some more melancholic, all make you want to wiggle your bits and sing along at least a little. The next show will be at Hempen Hill BBQ (Hagerstown, MD) Annual Wake & Bake w/ Hello Strangers and Booker Lee and the County Fair on 4/22/11 and also, later that night at the Waterfront Hotel (Fells Point, Baltimore) 10pm on 4/22/11. Check out Lawnchair’s Facebook page for information on upcoming show and how you can pick up a fine example of Baltimore alt country on disc.
Next up was the larger ensemble of Booker Lee and The County Fair , which included keys. Gettysburg natives put on a solid, but overall more mellow americana rock show than the Lawnchair boys. Booker Lee and The County Fair write the kind of songs that hit you in your soul and help you travel down the road of life. The band creates very melodic grooving tunes and definitely are a cherished local staples, they have two albums to date, For The Common Wealth is available on iTunes. Many of the fine musicians in Booker Lee and The County Fair joined forces with hip hop-ers Solomen Pade and Teddy Holmes to create the entourage called The Independent Democratic Republic. Definitely a departure from the evenings musical styling’s, it did not seem to faze the crowd who was invested in the nights show every step of the way. Solomen Pade and Teddy Holmes came in looking like well-mannered prep school boys, but they were ruthless in dropping rhymes and beats that had the crowd jumping. Very talented newbies indeed, their style is definitely hip hop, but very palatable for those who enjoy other rock based genres. The Independent Democratic Republic is so fresh (pun intended) that I don’t think they have any recorded albums to date, so you’ll have to catch them at a local event, lucky for you that they seem to be performing regularly these days. Also, don’t forget to visit the related links for videos and photos of the event! So, much media coverage you’ll feel like you’re there.
Related Links Photo Album Videos