The narrow front door swings closed, leaving a frigid night outside as we step into narrow world of red, where "Opa!" is the all-purpose greeting of staff and patrons alike.
From our perch on two stools near the end of the long bar, we water a thirst with dark beer and whiskey, but cannot easily put eyes on the source of evening's entertainment without getting beyond the small and enthusiastic crowd. Instead, the music finds us. It bursts from a thin pole of speakers and fills the tiny tabled area in front of the small space functioning as the stage. The music wafts up into the tall red ceilings and funnels down the narrow bar, reaching as far back as our empty glasses, as far back as the front door where the soft world of red meets the cold stare of a dark midnight.
For the better part of an hour, we listen as one man creates the familiar and skillfully plucks out a few tunes that we recognize only because we have often enjoyed his shows. Dan Costello's voice is loyal to each note without struggle, his fingers fall quickly upon strings without striking out of turn, and these precise notes become full measures carefully contained within a body of audible art. When the electronics are separated from the musician, all goes quiet for a few long moments, until a popular song by a Hawaiian musician squeezes around a corner and faintly makes its way back to our curious ears, which causes us to wonder if the radio has replaced our singer. And then the man and his guitar, free from cord and amp, emerge out of the small crowd gathered by the bar. Costello's freestanding and walking and finding a power for his voice from some deep place within and in this personal show, offstage and truly unaided, we find the unity of the man and the music, one defined as an extension of the other. Bowing to a round of sincere applause, he throws his still-shouldered guitar behind his back and claims a stool of his own on which to share a drink with us.