Monday, November 02, 2009

Going Local: Were we in downtown New Albany Saturday night, and did we really do all that?

(expanded version of previously published text)

Times may be changing in New Albany, but days like Saturday still strike me as somewhat surreal when viewed from the sobriety of a mellow morning after.

Perhaps some day this will change -- not the sobering up, which is a required feature of the professional drinker's life, but the surrealism of change in New Albany.

We began with late afternoon, craft-roasted coffee at Dueling Grounds, browsing the Destinations Booksellers racks as we sipped (I need a fresh copy of Garrett Oliver's book in the worst way), and then adjourning to the Bank Street Brewhouse for frites and a beer for each of us. Mine was Elector, because I felt a curious premonition.

Next stop was Wick’s on State for dinner with our friends, the Gillenwaters. Upon entering, I heard a familiar voice: Hugh E. Bir, covering Conway Twitty’s “Tight Fitting Jeans” from a stool in the crowded barroom. Not only is Hugh a performer, but he also owns the Louisville area's last authentic honky tonk, just up the street on Market. We really need to have Abzug pouring in there.

Mike "The Big Wick" Wyckliffe didn’t even wait for me to ask, and within minutes, I was ushered behind the bar, changing the tap handles as Elector supplanted Amber Bock on tap. They're long draw draft lines, and it took a few tastes to get the A-B liquid washed away.

This brief effort led to progressive pints to accompany our pizza and salad, and sated, the four of us proceeded to the Horseshoe Casino for the local leg of The Who singer Roger Daltrey’s “Use It or Lose It” tour in the Showroom. To my considerable surprise, the Horseshoe’s main barroom had BBC Bourbon Barrel Stout on tap, and it proved a worthy libation for sipping as I caught up with Mo, arguably the area’s biggest fan of The Who, after a chance meeting with him along the concourse.

This isn’t intended as a concert review. At the same time, Daltrey was spry and in as good a voice as one might imagine at the age of 65. The set list was predictably filled with Who songs, but to Daltrey’s credit, some of these are seldom played live by anyone, including the group itself ("Tattoo" and "Pictures of Lily" spring to mind). A wildly energetic version of “Going Mobile” was sung by Daltrey’s band mate, Simon Townshend (yes, the younger brother of Peter), and will stand as my top concert moment of the year so far.

When it was over, we returned home to reset clocks and contemplate the evening’s central theme: Most of the action took place within New Albany, and all of it within 10 miles of home, without crossing the river to Louisville.

Let’s all pat ourselves on the back … and return to work, because the trick now is to keep the momentum going.

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