Edward de Bono once joked with me that I could have a case for the Court of Human Rights. He reckoned that between the whole Murphy’s Law idiocy and the old ‘Murphy was an optimist’ mantra, I could claim just cause for the occasional bout of melancholy that besets me – i.e. the pressure of the world’s expectations that I be miserable.
I wonder, too, if this inate melancholy is one of the reasons why, although tone deaf and musically illiterate, I simply love the Blues (…and Country Music, but that’s another story).
In search of some live music in Budapest the other night, I consulted the Oracle, she who is one half of the Cool Colours duo. She recommended a Blues band that goes by the name of Turnaround; they were playing at Old Man’s.
I’d not been there in a while and had never heard of the band. YouTube searches came to nowt but confident that the lovely PH knows what she’s talking about, I went along.
Hideg Csaba, Donyán Andrász, Rókusz Andrász, and Szkórits-Tala Gábor are quite the performers. So engrossed were they in their music, that I felt at times as if I was watching a bunch of lads playing in their front room. Some musicians play for the money; others, like these, play for the sheer love of the music. They were completely absorbed. The music was in them. Their accents for the most part were faultless. And not for the first time I marvelled at the ability of musicians to sing songs in English and yet barely speak the language off stage.
Hearing Let the good times roll without any brass was a little different. I always have Ray Charles’ version in my head but even with three guitars and the drums, they did it justice. Ditto with Willie Dixon’s I just want to make love to you, made famous by Muddy Waters. After a while, I stopped missing the horns and the double-bass. BB King’s Rock me baby was my favourite cover of the night. The years fell away and it was Dublin, 1985 and BB King was playing at the National Stadium. I was there, on a date, with a chap called Eoin. Magic. My first ever Blues gig. Thank you, Eoin, wherever you are.
But perhaps what made the night for me were two songs in particular – Sweetie Kitty and Cherry Festival, both penned and sung by Mr Donyán himself. As the lads swapped out guitars and took their cue from Csaba (Mr Cool), the night rolled on and two hours passed in a flash.
Old Man’s has a curious policy that if you sit to the left of the room, you have to eat. You can sit to the right and just drink. And you don’t know this until you sit down. Our table was up front. Loathe to move, I ordered a Caesar salad. A quiet note to the management here: A Caesar salad should have anchovies, Parmesan cheese, romaine lettuce, and croutons. Adding croutons to a bland tomato and lettuce salad does not make it a Caesar.
Food aside, it was a great night. Watch out for these lads and MH/DT, put them on your list of people to see when you’re back in town.
This week, as temperatures soar and my temper shortens, I’m grateful for music and musicians, for those who are passionate about what they do, who sing just to sing and play just to play. Thank you for restoring my equilibrium. Know that you are saving lives 🙂