Last Friday, after watching The Gourds warm up Bend WinterFest, I hightailed it over to Silver Moon Brewing & Taproom in Bend to catch Austin, Texas singer-songwriter Danny Malone, whose work I’ve grown to really enjoy ever since his new album, “Cuddlebug,” showed up on my desk a couple weeks back.
I arrived at the Moon around 10 p.m. and stepped into one of the most bizarre scenes I’ve seen at a live-music gig. The stage was empty, and so was the bar; Malone was playing, unamplified, while sitting on a barstool over by the bathrooms. There were, if I remember correctly, 15 people there besides the performer, but that includes the soundman, the door(wo)man, two bartenders, Malone’s traveling buddy and me. So there were nine people in the Moon who weren’t working, and only four of those nine were paying any attention whatsoever to the music.
In fact, three of those nine chatted — very loudly — at the bar, until Malone stopped halfway through a song and began shouting at them: “Excuse me! Excuse me! Excuse me! I’m trying to play here, can you keep it down? Excuse me?” The three finally noticed and piped down, but their volume slowly rose again.
(The gabby patrons vs. the quiet performer is never a good look. You can argue that the patrons should shut up or leave, and you can argue that they have a right to chat and the musician should be a pro and ignore it. Both are fair arguments. Ultimately, I’m going to side with the musician. I don’t know why these people paid $5 each to sit in a bar and talk and laugh louder than the guy in the corner could play and sing. It was really annoying. Alas, that’s how it goes sometimes.)
Despite the noise, Malone played a cover of Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” and a song I didn’t recognize, but his manager says is an unreleased tune called “Ghost.” It’s really pretty. Check it out:
After “Ghost,” a few people left the Moon, leaving about a dozen onlookers as Malone stood and announced that he had only two songs left, and he was “gonna play to this whole f–kin’ bar.” At that, he climbed up onto the bar and did a fine rendition of “Needle In My Eye,” complete with slick little dance steps that carried him fluidly back and forth across the bar top. Here, see it for yourself:
After “Needle,” one of the gabbers tried to tell him not to feel bad about the small crowd, because WinterFest was happening across town. I can’t remember Malone’s response exactly, but to paraphrase, he said, “Do I look like I care? I’m singing and dancing on top of a bar!” He then finished with his “hit,” a simple, beautiful song called “Baby Bleu,” and then climbed down from the bar to the sound of about 12 hands clapping. He was ready, I’m sure, to head to the other side of the mountains in search of more fruitful fields to plow.
(Warning: Dirty word at about :07)