O'Flaherty's Irish Pub
January 01, 2005
I have to assume local Celtic songstress Beth Patterson gained a few performance tips from guitarist Jeffery Phillips. Either that or all Irish folk singers have an attitude. Like Patterson, Phillips didn't take any shit from the outspoken, but he also performed with a relaxed, warm, and affable manner. He ruled with an iron fist, but he also reminded me of an uncle when he led the crowd with congratulatory affirmations. He doled out positive energy when they were as loud as he wanted or if they all sang in key.
Saturday night at O'Flaherty's Irish Pub in the Quarter, Phillips sang the songs, and the crowd was full of visiting Sugar Bowlers from Virginia Tech and Auburn. And what else would they have been wearing but green and white beads? At the bar, people listened with one ear to Phillips intra-song jokes and with the other to the television showing a Florida State bowl game. The rest of the packed place sat in chairs in front of Phillips. They laughed, clapped along with the jigs, and they spouted off at the mouth with smart ass comments. Nothing breeds a smart ass like a smart ass, and Phillips definetely had an irreverence about him. He changed the lyrics of Billy Joel's "Piano Man" to fit Irish Heritage in an amusing way, and when a woman requested "Drunken Sailor," he said something to the effect of, "You're gonna make me play that friggin' song?" He had the air of a man who had been performing way too long but still enjoyed the ups and downs of the stage in a twisted way. Like an unhealthy habit.
He played "Drunken Sailor" anyway. He also played a great rabblerousing folk singalong in which he delivered spitfire di-de-dum rhythmic lyrics like a pro. The verse was repeated, but each time a new word or phrase was added onto the beginning. Along ten or so verses, he moved from large objects to smaller ones. I was thinking, "Ok, he's at the atom, what can he do next?" I should have guessed. He brought out the subatomic particle known as the quark. Along with numbers that got the crowd clapping, Phillips played somber ballads as well. There were more upbeat songs, though.
The point is that Phillips was a great entertainer and an exceptional musician. His prepared touristy shtick got annoying at times, but overall the show was quality and fun.