March 20, 2008

The Poor Mouth Café, An Beal Bocht, is a neigborhood bar with a real Irish pub feel. No doubt this is due in no small part to the real Irish Barmaid, Bronagh. Bronagh seemed to know everyone here by name.

My first impression was a little disorienting. The bar is on a steep hill. I could barely get out of the cab! When we entered, I heard live acoustic guitar, but the stage was empty. The walls are covered with shtuff: newspaper headlines, liquor swag, Irish authors, Irish roadsigns—heck, even Vietnamese roadsigns!

After taking a moment to acclimatize to the altitude, things seems to settle down to normalcy. We were able to locate two stools at the corner of the bar. I started with an Erdinger Hefe. It was nice, but not even close to the Wurzburger I'd had at Jimmy's. After this, I enjoyed a couple of pints of fresh Guinness and a shot of Jägermeister (or two).

Turns out the mysterious guitar was coming from Steve Oates Smith, who roamed throughout the joint with his wireless acoustic guitar. He performed an eclectic repertoire that included Steely Dan, Yes, The Beatles and Brubeck. The guy dazzled us with his great two-handed playing technique, whacking the body for percussive effects and fretting chords on the neck. definitely worth seeing again. There are Trad Irish performers here on Sunday afternoons and the locals tell me that accordionist John Redmond is worth the trip as well.

We tried to lure nearby Jim out for a pop, but no go. For the next couple of hours we chatted with the natives, who all seemed to know each other. Jason, it turns out, is in the same line of work as Kevin, although at the federal level, as opposed to the city. The lovely Corinne is going for her master's in special education.

Unfortunately, all great things must come to an end. Kevin whisked me outta there and proceded to kick my ass speed-walking uphill (it's quite a hill, actually). Eventually, I made my way back down the hill to Metro-North with ten minutes to spare. Twenty minutes later, I was in Grand Central on a southbound 6 train. Life is good.

Spuyten Duyvils

Steve Oates Smith, Wizard of the Wireless Guitar!

ArmCam™: Learning from the locals, Corinne and Jason

BrewCam™: Henry Hudson Bridge at Night