The World’s Greatest Happy Hour
If you are ever in Austin, Texas, on a Thursday night and you happen to enter a place called the Lucky Lounge … well, you may be luckier than you thought. That’s because most Thursday nights, the Lucky Lounge hosts a free happy hour between 6-8 p.m. with Ian McLagan and the Bump Band for entertainment.
And bruddah, that’s entertainment – Ian McLagan is of course the diminutive keyboard player for the Small Faces (with Steve Marriott) and later the Faces (with Ron Wood and Rod Stewart), two of the greatest British bands to ever invade the States. McLagan has been an Austin resident for a number of years, and he does not hesitate to play often in his adopted hometown.
His Bump Band is a seasoned, polished unit – Don Harvey on drums, Jon Nortarthomas on bass and “Scrappy” Jud Newcomb on guitar – that is easily the the best band you’ll ever see playing at a free happy hour. The night we went, it happened to be the day after McLagan’s 66th birthday, so this happy hour was a true party.
And “Mac” was in rare form: even introducing one song with “this was written by Ron Wood, Rod Stewart and me …” and he kicked an awesome “Cindy Incidentally.” Right after, “You’re So Rude.” He doesn’t need to lean on old Faces warhorses, though; some of the Bump Band originals were just as rockin’ and heartfelt, like “Date With An Angel.” I’ve seen McLagan pull out a Small Faces tune like “Get Yourself Together,” but unless I missed it, he didn’t do one this time.
McLagan never forgets to pay tribute to his dear friend Ronnie Lane, the Faces bassist who moved to Austin after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“Ronnie’s the reason I’m here in the first place,” said McLagan, and played Lane’s “Spiritual Babe” before pulling out the Lane/Faces classic “Glad and Sorry.” All the while, birthday cake was being passed around and between songs Mac would take a moment to open a gift, thank the giver and accept a kiss from a lady in the crowd.
McLagan invited Austin radio personality Jody Denberg up to sing a few tunes, and hey, Jody’s not a bad singer. They wrapped it with Wood’s “Mystifies Me,” then “Little Troublemaker,” from McLagan’s first solo album (1979). By this time, Mac was shouting from the stage, “This round’s on me … tell ’em to put it on my tab! I’m not kidding!”
And he wasn’t – the bartender placed a frothy cool one in front of me and pointed to the stage. Where else can you see one of the world’s most legendary rock musicians playing up close and personal, and have him buy you a beer on his birthday? The world’s greatest happy hour, that’s where.