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"Add It Up" and Get Your Irish Up at Scruffy Murphy's

The only time I saw the Violent Femmes was when the Milwaukee-based trio played a short, energetic set on the counter of Wax Trax Records in the mid-'80s. People were stuffed in the aisles of the store for the entirely acoustic set; I'm pretty sure the drummer banged on a cardboard box. After that, I passed up all chances to catch them live again; I wanted to remember them by that in-store gig where frontman Gordon Gano sang, "Have mercy on me people, I got girl trouble up the ass."

Gano offers a similar sentiment on the Femmes tune "Add It Up," where he sings about not being able to get laid. So when the Commoners, who hail from Fort Collins, played that tune at Scruffy Murphy's (2030 Larimer Street), then offered up some Irish folk tunes as well a great take on the Femmes' "Blister in the Sun" (which is allegedly about masturbation), they got high marks in my book — especially since they tossed some mandolin into the mix.

In retrospect, it was a little out-of-whack to be drinking Boddington's ale from Britain inside an Irish pub that was celebrating the halfway mark to St. Patrick's Day while Oktoberfest was going on outside. But it didn't seem strange at the time. In fact, it felt like this saloon had always been a part of this neighborhood, even though it just opened in March 2005. We spent some time on the decent-sized beer garden patio in the back, which has another bar, red clay on the ground, Christmas lights hanging overhead and murals painted on nearly every wall and fence, including one airbrushed gal with giant hooters and a tight white halter top that reads "I (heart) Ireland." But at Scruffy Murphy's, that's not the only reason to love Ireland.

The Commoners play here fairly often, and the pub also brings in such Irish-centric acts as Angus Mohr, sixtysixdays and Stone Walls on Fridays and Saturdays, and hosts traditional Irish music sessions on Sundays. There's an open-mike night on Thursdays, too, and Geeks Who Drink offer trivia on Wednesdays starting at 8 p.m. With a good entertainment lineup and stiff drinks, we (heart) Ireland, too.

Club scout: Just down the street from Scruffy's, guitarist Jennifer Batten, who's played on world tours with Michael Jackson and Jeff Beck, is playing at Herb's (2057 Larimer Street) on Thursday, October 1, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $14 — a bargain to see her up close in this intimate bar. Sutra (1109 Lincoln Street) is continuing its Saturday-night Gogo vs. Gogo competition this week, with dancers competing for $500 in cash and prizes and a chance to win a two-month paid contract to dance at the club. Finals take place October 10.

When One Eyed Jacks (475 Santa Fe Drive) took over the former Continental Club in January, the bar looked like it had a lot of potential. But over the summer, things started going south. Shows were canceled, there were rumors about a falling-out between the owners, and the place reportedly was broken into a few times. So it's not all that surprising that One Eyed Jacks recently shut its doors and the space is now for lease. But as one club closes, another opens. Buckin' Harleys will be moving into the former Hiccups III, at 1451 Cortez Street (near Highway 36 and Pecos).

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon

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