Eli Jones at Mahoney’s Irish Pub 12/7/08 (Review)

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As I posted earlier, Eli Jones was booked to play Mahoney’s Irish Pub on Sunday 12/7. I was planning to hit the show if I got back from a weekend in Minneapolis at a decent time. As it turns out, I did, but it was a bit hairy coming out of Minneapolis with a bunch of snow blowing all over the roads, but we made it back in one piece, if a bit worn out. Thankfully, the show was an early start, and it got over early, so I could get back home and to bed since I needed to work the next morning.

I had never been to Mahoney’s before for some reason. Apparently it was because I couldn’t find it! My daughter Rae goes to Coe College, and that is in the same area, and she told me to take the H Ave exit off of 380, which is the same one that I take when I visit her on campus. I drove around a bit and found Paddy O’Roark’s on 16th Street but no sign of Mahoney’s. So, I busted out the trusty iPhone and hit the Maps application which helpfully indicated that I was damn near sitting on top of Mahoneys! WTF? Well, only in Cedar Rapids can we support two Irish-themed bars around the corner from each other!

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I got rock star parking in the small lot next to the bar, so I was pretty happy about that– as long as I didn’t get blocked in. Mahoney’s is a very small bar– long and narrow. The band of eight members seemed to take up half of the bar! I made my way to the back of the bar by the covered pool table and staked my place while the band worked through a spirited cover of the Classic Joe Cocker version of the Box Tops’ “The Letter.” The band was set up where seating would normally be along a long table in the center of the bar. It made for some awkward vantage points as far as shooting pictures was concerned, but I think I got some good shots. When I got there the band had already started, and the crowd was relatively thin but within an hour or so the place filled up. The crowd seemed to be a mixture of regulars and regular fans of the band. Even for such a small crowd, the place was electric! The crowd was supportive and the two ladies working the bar were very busy, but attentive and even entertained the crowd by doing some Ikette moves during the “Proud Mary” cover!!

The ladies behind the bar doing their best Ikette impersonations

In the four-hour set, Eli Jones did a set of songs that drew heavily from their 2007 CD Make It Right as well as their as-yet-unrecorded next album, in addition to some very complimentary covers. The cover run the range of 60’s R&B classics like the aforementioned “The Letter” and “Proud Mary” to more obscure classics like the Meters “Look a Py-Py” and they threw in some Prince and a frantic cover of the Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” that had Jonathon Edwards running around the bar, and I believe outside at one point! Later in the night he had to apologize to a guy who’s hat was lost during the race.

I think that this show was a good example of how a great crowd can make a great band better. There was a lot of interaction between the band and the crowd that night and they fed off each other. At one point during the third set I counted 45 people in the bar, but damn if it didn’t seem like the crowd was bigger! Brendan said in an e-mail after the show that about 10 people bought CD’s that night, and it looked like the tip jar was pretty full, too.

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Eli Jones is one of the tightest bands I’ve seen in a while and while they don’t put on the choreographed stage show that the Diplomats are doing these days with the Diplomettes, they have their own style and would make a killer double-billing with the Diplomats. Stefanie Berecz holds her own against the three-piece horns section with a powerhouse vocal skill. Her wide range runs the gamut from R&B shouting to smoky blues and raw emotion. I don’t want to downplay the fact that Brendan O’Connell and Chris Corsale also contribute vocals which gives the band the necessary breadth of material to keep “Joe Sixpack” rocking through three sets.

Stefanie Berecz of Eli Jones

Brendan said that this show was the fourth time this year that they played Mahoney’s and he said that this was their favorite bar to play– they haven’t played anywhere else in Cedar Rapids! Considering the warm atmosphere and fun crowd, I can see why and I plan to make it back there when they play next, which should be sometime after they record their next album. If Eli Jones is playing anywhere near you I recommend seeing them.

Jill and the crowd get down
Set One

Make It Right
Bring Your Love To Me
Right Wrong
Poor Man’s Game (*)
The Letter
Better Way (*)
Proud Mary
Afraid Not To Die
Disco Smooth
Son of a Preacher Man
Ain’t Going Back (*)

Set Two

Finally Did For Me
I Could Really Hold On (*)
Doin’ Nothin’ (*)
Give It Up
Mary Jane
Kiss > Seven
Carry Me Home (*)
Stevie (Wonder?)
I’ll Get Down (*)

Set Three

Look a Py-Py
Use Me
Lift This Hurt
Candlelight and Satin Sheets
Since You Been Gone
Life During Wartime
Abracadabra
Whiskey High
Where Did The Time Go
You Got The Love
Before I Know Your Name (*)
Nobody (*)

(*) Songs that will be on the next album

Band Members:

Stefanie Berecz
Brendan O’Connell
Chris Corsale (guitar/vocals)
Greg Nergaard (bass)
John Smillie (drums)
Jonathon Edwards (baritone sax)
Jim Schram (tenor sax)
Eric Miller (trombone)

Click Here to see the other pictures from the show.

Click Here to visit Eli Jones’s Website

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