It’s the ultimate bar band!
On St. Patrick’s Day, a whiskey-soaked Irish rock band will belt out tunes from the Emerald Isle and Celticized ’80s hits from the stage of the Way Station bar in Prospect Heights. But the band is not just here for the holiday — the Waysties is the official house band of the Dr. Who-themed watering hole, and its members met while bellied up to its bar. The bar’s owner said that he saw a potential hit in bringing together some of his Irish music-loving regulars.
“They were sitting at the bar lamenting that they couldn’t find people to play with. I said ‘Great, I want you to form a band,’ ” said Andy Heidel. “I had a band sitting in front of me that didn’t know they were a band yet.”
The members quibble about the details, but all agree they were Way Station regulars who played their first show there on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, at Heidel’s request. The band has played regularly there ever since, and will play with other Irish acts on March 17.
The band’s regular appearances have created a strong bond with the audience, according to the Waystie who sings and plays guitar, banjo and Irish bouzouki.
“When you play regular sets for the same community of people, it develops a really strong culture of regulars,” said Robare Pruyn. “It has the quality of a family.”
The Waysties are united by their love for the Way Station and by their passion for Irish music. Member Sarah Storm, who lives in Ditmas Park, said that the full-blooded subject matter of Erin’s tunes drew her in.
“There are songs about drinking and fighting and death. They’re really good stories with beautiful music,” said the singer, guitarist and bodhran player — a type of Irish drum.
The Way Station may be more intergalactic than it is Irish, but the Celtic tunes go well with its atmosphere, according to the band’s mandolin player.
“There’s a really good crowd of regulars, and the Way Station has a bit of an old-timey vibe,” said Noam Berg. “This suits Irish music.”
In addition to traditional ballads, the Waysties also blend Irish music with pop hits. Its rendition of “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats, with the famous riff played on mandolin, goes over particularly well, said Berg.
In the years since the band formed, most of the members have moved to Philadelphia, but their connection to the Way Station and its nerd-friendly crowd has kept them all coming back.
“Most of us are giant nerds,” said Pruyn. “The bar is the type of place that attracts people we get along with by default.”
The Waysties at the Way Station [683 Washington Ave. between Prospect Place and St. Marks Avenue in Prospect Heights, (347) 627–4949, www.thewa
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