A Solo Night at Brendan’s Irish Pub

by Gray Cargill on January 11, 2010

Pete Contino

Pete Contino

Do you like going out to hear live music when you travel?  I do.  I rarely go out for live music at home, because I have to get up pretty early for work and our local music venues tend to target a much younger demographic (it’s a college town). So going out to hear live music is a treat for me, and a priority when I travel.   Several Las Vegas resorts have lounges featuring live bands.  Most are cover bands, and most will never be more than that.   The Fontana Lounge at the Bellagio and Margaritaville at the Flamingo are just two of the better venues.  But I like the blues.  What’s a blues lover to do when she wants to hear live music in Vegas?   You could go to the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, or the newly-opened BB King’s Blues Club at the Mirage.  But during my September trip, I headed off the Strip for a change to Brendan’s Irish Pub at the Orleans to catch the Pete Contino Band.

Brendan’s Irish Pub lends itself to the solo traveler fairly well.  It has friendly bartenders and a very long bar (although there were fewer stools than there should have been–quite a bit of real estate in front of the bar is wasted on trash receptacles). There is a wall of television sets for the solo who wants to catch the big game, live music for those of us who are music fans, a pool table, and plenty of good drinks.  It’s a lovely pub, with lots of dark wood, a huge mirror with stained glass above it, and old-fashioned lamps hanging from the ceiling.  It seemed to be trying to recall a past era.  The Pub has two drawbacks:

  • No bathroom.  You have to go out to the casino and use the closest bathroom out there.  It’s not far away, but it does present a logistical difficulty for the solo traveler.  I had to keep letting the bartender know where I was going and that I would be back, and hope that no one took my seat while I was gone.
  • Their food is not made in the Pub.  It’s made over at Fuddruckers (around the corner) and is brought to the Pub by a runner. I saw that in New Orleans once, too, and I just think it’s the strangest practice–ordering takeout from one establishment to eat in another.

These drawbacks fade into the woodwork once the Pete Contino Band takes the stage.   (If the name Contino sounds familiar, it’s because his dad, Dick Contino, was a famous accordionist.) Pete also plays the accordion, which gives his particular brand of blues a cajun or zydeco spin.  It was like being back in New Orleans again.   He is backed by some very talented musicisns–one of whom played slide guitar and harmonica simultaneously. They played some covers, but also some of Pete’s orginal songs.  I was in music nirvana.

I was perplexed by the fact that the Pub was only about a quarter full.  It was a holiday weekend, the Orleans casino was packed.  Couldn’t people hear the great tunes coming out of the Pub?  But then, the night was young.  I stayed until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any more, but left before midnight, which is  considered “early” by Vegas standards.  I was still on East Coast time.  I left happy, though.  I got my fix of good blues music.  I think I might just have to make Brendan’s a regular stop on all my future trips to Vegas.

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