A guy walks into a bar, and writes a song about it. It wasn’t quite that simple, but that’s essentially what happened when singer-songwriter Bat McGrath patronized The Blue Eagle tavern 36 years ago. It was that bar, and a breakup, that inspired McGrath’s “Blue Eagle,” a song about a drunken phone call to an ex-lover made from the backroom payphone.
“It was breakup and I was living down at the farm,” McGrath says. “Irish writers can pout and write sad stuff forever. It's in our blood.”
The song, the bar, and Bat McGrath remain local legends. And this weekend, he will bring the song back to the Branchport bar, which is being restored and reopened by new owners. They are hoping it will become a destination again, for bikers, outdoorsmen and wine tourists. McGrath remembers it well.
“It feels strange,” he says about returning to a place where he was a regular when he owned a farmhouse up the road. “It was strange driving through the valley and up Italy Hill. I expect to see some locals I haven't seen in 30 years.”
McGrath will help reopen the tavern with a concert at The Blue Eagle Saturday at 6:00 pm. Tickets that include admission for other acts as well, and food, are available through www.blueeagletavern.com
McGrath is also playing the Jazz Festival’s free stage on Gibbs Street (Jazz Street) Thursday evening, also at 6:00 pm. It will be his first appearance ever at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, but just the latest of hundreds of shows he’s played in and around Rochester.