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Review: St. Patrick's Day at the Where House

Posted 11:32am on Monday, Mar. 19, 2012

My St. Patrick’s Day was steeped in music offbeat tradition. For instance, my day began with a trip to Baker St. Pub in Fort Worth to see the racing of the wiener dogs. I got there around 1 p.m., and already things were in full swing; a DJ was playing Irish standards like Meatloaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light (I talked him into some Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys), and there were lots stretched-out dogs that had been bred to hunt badgers.

Baker St. was really jumping, and the dog race — a fund-raiser for the Chuck Silcox Animal Care and Control Center — was a blast. About half the dogs just wandered around looking for badgers (presumably), while a few got the idea and ran their little legs off.

But that was merely the beginning of my St. Paddy’s journey. Next, I headed out to the Where House on Hemphill for their first-ever St. Patrick’s Day celebration. You just thought the wiener dog thing was weird.

This week, directly out front of the Where House we had the Potato-Potahto food truck on the sidewalk. Inside, the place was decidedly more lounge-like (if lumberjacks have lounges). Couches and tables were scattered about, there was green Pabst Blue Ribbon, and in place of the pool table, there was some kind of anarchistic strong man competition going on.

For the first challenge, the contestant had to split a fairly large tree trunk with a splitting maul. A seemingly endless series of city kids were lined up to have a go at it, and dodging wood chips was the order of the day. Eventually, one split it, and he made it to the finals.

The second challenge was to pick up an approximately 160-pound tree trunk, and hold it off the ground as long as possible. A coupon for 10 percent off chiropractic services was offered for the losers.

In the music department, we had Wayne Floyd on guitar, vocals, and harmonica, and two unidentified bandmates on accordion, mandolin, and guitar. Floyd has a great voice, and this was a nice authentic folk performance. There was a bit of Celtic folk there (fittingly), and a bit of roots.

Following a set by Floyd, Sam Dobbin was up. He did an entertaining solo set with guitar and vocals, and rounded it out with an emphatic rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun that made you really really believe that girls just want to have fun.

Next we got some more Wayne Floyd, and I managed to snag a comfy leather couch for the rest of the night. If I wasn’t already digging it, the band’s rendition of Richard Thompson’s 1952 Vincent Black Lightinng would have won me over.

As things starting winding down, the log splitter faced off with the trunk lifter in an arm-wrasslin’ throwdown royale. The massive gentleman who picked up the tree won, which sparked a frenzy of unauthorized arm wrestling matches between beer-muscled lads and lasses. The winner of the official match got to take home a live goat as a prize. No, I’m not kidding. I’m not sure what he did with the goat, and I’m not sure I want to.

Finishing out the show was an unexpected acoustic performance by Chris Johnson of Telegraph Canyon fame. Chris played us out until 2 a.m., with Brenna Manzare backing him up on omnichord. The joint was still pretty packed at closing.

This was the first attempt by the Where House at a St Patrick’s Day party, and by far the most entertaining one I’ve ever been to. In usual Where House fashion, it felt less like a bar bash, and more like a party at a friend’s house (if your friend lives in an old warehouse, and tends a goat pack). So OK, maybe we aren’t particularly traditional in Funkytown. But we have fun, and that’s what counts.

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