White Owls Band
Sally O'Brien's Bar and Grill
335 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02145
Open 11 am - 1 am
If you’re looking for a launch pad to rocket your blues lovin’ soul into the work week, head over to Sally O’Brien’s Pub on a Sunday night. The resident rocker scientists, headed by Dennis Brennan, will put you in a feel good orbit that will have your feet tappin’ and bottom shakin’.
Brennan fronts the White Owls, a cover band that produces two liquid nitrogen-caliber sets of hardcore blues every Sunday. Sidemen Mike Dinallo (guitar), Dean Casell (bass), Steve Sadler (laptop steel), and Andy Plaisted (drums), rock like it's still Saturday night.
Blues is Brennan’s oxygen. He’s been writing, singing, and scratching out a career since 1992. If you can imagine the hardscrabble life of a musician perpetually just outside the gates of fame and fortune, you damn well know Brennan is pouring it out from his gut. After he grabs a down and dirty ballad or up-tempo number by the throat, there’s no way his bandmates can mail in their solos. They’re too proud and too good to do that anyway.
Tonight’s crowd was thin but Mike Dinallo and Steve Sadler played as if booking agents filled the place. While tipping their hats to the gritty bluesmen that preceded them (see Brennan’s set list below), they gleefully lay down their own inspired licks. Dinallo’s soaring, imaginative riffs had Sadler grinning as he plucked, thrummed and at one point induced amp feedback as part of a solo that careened deliciously into the rafters.
Sally O’Brien’s is one of a handful of Cambridge/Somerville pubs that serve great live music with the beer. Lest anyone lose sight of the bottom line, the two 42-inch HD plasma TVs set upon the brick wall behind bar are dwarfed by the Guinness sign. The ten taps halfway down the bar finish the motif and can wash down the authentic Irish, Mexican, Italian, and American foods on the menu.
A small stage set on a dias, a postage stamp dance floor, and a scattering of high cocktail tables are on the far side of the waist high wall that separates the bar from the lounge. On this night, a few dancers boogie, swing, and grind away. If you’re a dance and blues hound, find this place on mapquest.
The place is a local hangout. You will not see BMWs parked on the street outside. You will hear brogues still thick from the trip across the pond. And on most nights you’ll hear very American music. Check it out for yourself.
Partial list - first and second sets.
The music honors early bluesmen who blazed a trail while battling cultural bias and lack of means.
"Route 66", blazing treatment of 1946 Bobby Troup song
"Strange Things Happen', written by Percy Mayfield 1950 slow blues
'I Aint Mad At You', originally performed by Maggie Campbell, Thomas Johnson 1928
'Whole Lotta Rockin Goin On'
'Stranger Blues', The Crusaders 1960
'This Is The Last Time I Fool With You'
'Mona', written by Bo Diddley 1957
'That’s All Right', written by Arthur Crudup 1954
'I cant do it all by myself', Sonnyboy Williamson II 1955
'Somebody Got To Go', written by Gatemouth Moore 1945
'Fever', written by Little Willie John 1937