Magnolia Row played to a sardine can crowd for Fat Tuesday at the West End Tavern in Boulder on 2/16/2010. I have heard a Yonder Mountain String Band bootleg where in the middle of “My Darling One” he proclaims to the crowd how kewl they all are.
It’s something along the lines of, “Wow! This is really cool seeing all of you here. We were just reminiscing about how 2 years ago we couldn’t even get 30 people in at the West End Tavern in Boulder, CO.”
This made me curious. I had never been to the West End Tavern despite having been to many places right near there. The show started early, which is good because I am a school girl, gotta stick to that curfew. The hostess greeted me as I entered and I felt as though I had gone to the wrong place. I asked her if there was any music here tonight and she directed me upstairs. Despite my awkward stumbling, I found the band just fine.
The band was squeezed at the entrance of the room and the bar was in the back. I made my way for an adult beverage and a nice corner of which to take in the performance and the scene in one hearty gaze. It was an intimate gathering of kind folks. There were high quality beers that led to a beer connoisseur’s conversation. I began to feel more at ease. I looked amongst my peers and saw everyone eating and chatting over dark stouts and PBR tall boys. A scene that immediately made me smile.
It was at that point also, I gave a brief headcount. The band had been playing for about 45 minutes and there was already 35 people, not including the band or the bar staff. Oh! And not including the friends on the midlevel playing shuffleboard. They looked like fun. The band cranked out with their two guitars, steady-as-she-goes bass, the Stevie Ray Vaughn of mandolin, and a special sit-in guest on banjo.
The mountain ambient jams were unobtrusive and provided a real harmony for eating dinner and catching up with friends. Songs would end but my tapping toes did not. Of course as beer conversating continued, I found my toe tapping harder than the last song. Several songs were even without vocals so it wasn’t that constant line-of-a-song-repeating-in-my-head quality I am so often guilty of. If there was room for a piano in the West End Tavern, you can almost imagine a family reunion with the room gathered around the hearth of the home, playing out a scene from a family reunion. The soup looked and smelled fantastic.
“Oh fill my cup, change my luck, I can’t swim”
The almost Alison Krauss sweetness of Daniella’s voice opens up the 2nd set. She brings focus to the hazy eyed crowd. I did mention that it was Fat Tuesday, didn’t I? The second set opened a little louder, the natural progression of the evening’s energy was spilling over. I did a quick head count: 52 people now, not including the band or the bar staff. The premium for space is forcing folks to squeeze together. The dancers crowd towards the band. Beads are distributed. Paul Murin is behind the speaker – did I mention the premium for space in this place? Brian is playing bass with his back against the wall. Does he realize that with him in a bigger space, this place would have hips swinging? Steady as he goes the music trots along and Mardi Gras goers eat, drink, and make merry. Everyone had a microphone except special guest Andy Thorn on the banjo. But with that kind of energy spilling and flowing, you can bet he found a mic when the spirit so moved him.
Funny, Ani DiFranco won’t allow folks to sing along at her shows but here I feel comfortable and free to sing along and even get the words wrong. Folks are laughing from the shuffleboard and I am daydreaming of Magnolia Row playing my Memorial Day BBQ. Maybe Yonder Mountain String Band didn’t fill the West End Tavern with 30 people. Look at them now. I can only hope to have a few more chances with Magnolia Row in an intimate setting like this before they too sell out Red Rocks and charge $25 plus booking fees.