A gentleman ambles in wearing neatly pressed khakis, a polo shirt, a sports jacket and a black golf cap. He looks decidedly unhip but he’s carrying a guitar case, so this must be Stan. He takes off his jacket and arranges it neatly behind him. He gets a big beer, plugs in and tunes up.
When Stan starts to play, we are rapt. The space seats about 25 people, three-quarters tourists and one-quarter locals. Were Stan to sweat, we’d see every bead, but he doesn’t because he’s too cool.
The business at hand is the blues. Stan’s got a deep, gravelly, growl of a voice but the main event is the bass. His fingers pluck and slip and slide over the strings and his hand massages and embraces the neck.
Stan’s got meaty red lips. They reach for the microphone, then peel back from his teeth to sing open vowels. They form into a snarl when he’s jamming and coo when he’s watching his fingers on the neck of his instrument.
Between songs he sputters and wheezes, reaching for his beer to save him, and between sets he massages his hands. But when there was music to be played he is all in.
He’s Scottish and singing the blues, which means much is unintelligible. I pick up a few lines. The sun is shinin’ but it’s rainin’ rainin’ rainin’ in my heart. White man blues, black man blues, dead man walking blues… The words don’t really matter. It’s the place, the ambiance and that thing about great live music where the crowd feels alive and shares the moment.
We all tumbled out into the Prague night with blues on the brain.
Karmelitská 23, 118 00, Mala Straná, Praha 1
Trams 12,20,22 – stop Malostranske Namesti
Every Monday at 21:00
You’ll want to call ahead for reservations and show up on time. They won’t hold the table for more than 15-20 minutes after Stan starts playing. If you can’t get a table, you can stand at the bar.