The curtain of smoke parted as the large one-legged man ambled up onto the stage. Scratching his scraggly beard, he turned to face the crowd, leaned over onto his crutch and, well, blew the foam out of everyone’s beer with deep soulful rocking blues. Slightly raspy, his tones were filled with emotion, inviting visions of Bluesmen from a bygone era. His voice, at times, was sweet like a lover’s kiss. At other times, it was like a freight train racing down hill, powerful, unstoppable. And, no one at the solid wood tables, no one behind the heavy long wood bar, no one standing on the beer stained floor, no one in the room wanted Deak “Bill” Gyula and his Blues Band to stop. Bill and his band obliged the crowd’s wishes and played long into the night, diving head first from one number to the next. The crowd, which sat and stood close enough to see the beads of sweat building on Bill’s forehead, called for draft after draft of Amstel and Soproni beer as they followed every note, heads nodding in rhythmic appreciation.
At least that is the way that I remember it the first time that I saw Deak Bill, many years ago. Deak Bill the last I heard still didn’t speak a word of English. That doesn’t stop him from mixing in powerful renditions of American blues tunes into his set with his brand of hardy Hungarian blues. Deak Bill and his Blues Band take the microphones frequently at Old Man’s Music Pub in Budapest, Hungary. Many other Hungarian talents such as Takacs Tamas, Torok Adam and Ladanybene 27 also pound out consistently memorable crowd rousing performances on the Old Man’s intimate stage. In fact, live music can be heard running up Old Man’s entry staircase every night of the week. The twelve beers on tap, a cozy pub atmosphere and a large selection of hardy pub grub put Old Man’s Music Pub on my regular pub and grub route. It is the music, however, that places Old Man’s at the top of the list when I am asked to recommend things to do in Budapest.