"Been past it many times, but never been inside," is a remark I recently overheard. The man was responding to a friend's glowing report of The Plough in Walthamstow and the live music therein. I have been neither past nor inside The Plough. Could I go inside without going past? Probably not unless I went inside every single time I went past...or didn't go past.
Anyway, a pub that I have been past many times, and never been inside, is The Pyrotechnists Arms on Nunhead Green ("The Pyro"). A poster on their window advertised "Theresa Rodgers and Wild Flowers" performing at 6.30 this evening. I got there at seven and walked out of Nunhead and into Donegal.
Theresa Rodgers, it turned out, is an Irish country music performer, and I think songwriter, of some reknown. The Mayo News reported thus on her performance in front of 2,000 people at last May's emotional closing night of The Galtymore Ballroom in Cricklewood, "Singers of the calibre of Theresa Rodgers from Arranmore island off the Donegal coast are rare, and the now London-based entertainer, along with her brother John, delivered a lovely set for the early arrivals. She is a superb singer and a charming lady as well."
The Galtymore opened in 1952 at a time of high Irish emigration to Britain and became a main, perhaps the main social headquarters for Irish Londoners. Not all the events there were necessarily for an Irish audience. I went there once, two years ago, to see The Fall. And I would have liked to have gone there again. Oh well.
Today Theresa played keyboard and sang. She was accompanied by John on guitar. And on the tight patch of wooden floor in front of them people danced. Not because they were drunk, but because they liked dancing. At the end of the first song I heard, Theresa said, "Thank you for dancing", which I took to be indication that this was the first song featuring dancers, but it turned out she says that after every song. Though probably not when no-one dances - that would be rude and sarcastic. This evening, however, there were dancers for every song. Lots of them, teens through to seventies. Couples smiling, twirling and interchanging. By the time I left about an hour later, I'd had to retreat several yards from my original vantage point to avoid being swept along by the dancing hoards.
2015 update - latest gig news of Theresa and John on the net I can find was January 2014 at a pub in Ealing. The Pyro still gong strong with live music to the fore.