For more than three decades, musician Bob Reeder has played weekly gigs — singing Irish folk songs and bawdy limericks — in an underground pub in Weston, Missouri. O'Malley's is roughly 50 feet underneath the ground in a limestone brewery cellar built in 1842.
"When you walk in to that place, and you see the way it's decorated and the structure of the pub, it evokes the old country and the way things were," says Reeder. "It really does feel like you're walking back in time."
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In the late 1980s, Reeder was playing at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, which in those days was a benefit for the Kansas City Art Institute, when he was recruited for O'Malley's. The owners, Barbara and Pat O'Malley, according to Reeder, followed him at the festival as he performed on different stages.
"They came up to me after about the fourth or fifth show and said, 'How would you like to play in our pub?' and I said, 'Thank you, that's very nice.'"
Reeder has sung and played his guitar at venues around the country, but at the time, he wasn't familiar with Weston, a Missouri River town about 30 minutes north of downtown Kansas City.
"It was quite a relief and, of course, a pleasant surprise when I got there," he said. "I walked in to the pub, and I said, 'I'm home.'
These days O'Malley's has new co-owners, brewers Michael Coakley and Corey Weinfurt, who re-opened Weston Brewing Company in 2005; they also run the on-site restaurant, as well as O'Malley's two indoor stages: the lower cellar that opened in 2000, and the upper cellar, where Reeder performs most weekends.
"You can read the faces, and that's so important when you entertain people," says Reeder. "And you can tell whether they like it, or whether they don't. And if they like it, that's great. If they don't, you can always do something to change their mind. Or you can try," he says with a laugh.
O'Malley's, 500 Welt Street, Weston, Missouri, 816- 640-5235. Music on St. Patrick's Day starts at noon and runs through midnight, with musicians such as The Kelihans, Tullamore, Chance the Arm, Damian McCarthy, Shane Farell, and Bob Reeder.
Underground is an occasional series, taking a look at underground people and places.
Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @lauraspencer.