Rick invited me out to Byrne's Pub, another great local joint that I should have included in my list of Columbus attractions, to watch Scythian, a band he saw at the Dublin Irish Festival (another great Columbus event!). Given the choice between watching a small act in a cozy place like Byrne's, and watching a big act in a stadium, I'll almost always choose the former. You just can't beat the energy and the sheer fun of talented musicians doing what they love in front of a small crowd of enthusiastic people.
Rick and I arrived early, and took seats toward the rear of the establishment. The place filled up shockingly fast. I was surprised when a family took up stations behind us, with at least four young kids, the oldest of which was maybe 8 or 9. The kids were clearly excited (though whether for the band, or just the opportunity to feel grown up staying out late, I don't know), and while the family didn't stay long they all had a great time. They, too, had seen Scythian at the Dublin Irish Festival, and wanted to see them again. The band played a couple of songs specifically requested by the kids, and at one point at least one of the kids was in front of the stage dancing with wild abandon. There was, in fact, a lot of dancing, all throughout the bar. Many of the young women in the audience were doing a passable job of Irish step dancing. I was tempted to join in, but decided not to show off. ;)
The four members of the band were all terrific musicians, and the music was excellent. They played a variety of traditional Celtic music, a number of their own compositions, and some surprising crowd favorites (including an enthusiastic version of "Cotton Eye Joe", and closing out the night with John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Road"). The band was friendly, and most important to me, talkative. I've complained before about bands that simply play their music -- I can get that by listening to the CD. Give me something extra for making the effort to come see your show! Scythian did not disappoint, and they were extremely appreciative of all the folks out on a Thursday night. One thing that I noticed was that Dan, the guitarist, had a smile on his face throughout the entire gig. It seems like a small thing, but it really reinforced just how much fun the band was having, which helped the audience have a good time. The evening started with only a few folks dancing at the front of the stage, but by the time their set was finished the tables and chairs had been pushed to the walls and the entire pub was on its feet clapping, dancing, and having a great time.
Just before the final song, someone from the audience was invited to play the bass guitar with the band. I laughed out loud as I recognized the woman taking the stairs: it was none other then Stephanie, a girl I went to school with! She's now a member of The Ladies of Longford (in addition to being a music teacher at an elementary school by day!). She rocked out the John Denver with the band!
If you get the chance to see Scythian, I highly recommend it. They're a great act, and a great group of guys.