Situated just off Sydney Road, opposite the Barkly Square shopping precinct, the Sporting Club is one of the venues which most encapsulates the vibe and culture of Brunswick. Among its main attractions are regular live music, an innovative and reasonably priced menu and a great selection of local and imported tap beers. I went to watch local duo Dan Watkins and Paddy Montgomery work some of their musical magic for the first of their September residency shows.
It was a quiet night at the pub, which made for a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere in which to sit back and be lulled by the music - an assortment of traditional music spanning the genres of bluegrass, country and folk. It was played for the most part on guitar and mandolin, with some songs sung and some instrumental. Despite the soothing effect the tunes elicited, the music was by no means a simple repertoire, including many fast and complicated passages executed with remarkable skill and an easy musicality. It was a great hit with the young children who came in from the dining area next door and were soon dancing along enthusiastically, even enticing their parents to join in.
My partner and I took the opportunity to sample some of the beers on offer while we sat and enjoyed the music. Both of us particularly liked the Grizz American Amber, neither of us having come across this variety elsewhere. A weighty beer with sweet tones, it was the alcoholic equivalent of honey on bread, and definitely a new experience.
In the breaks between the music the beer garden provided a relaxing and pleasant environment for a drink or a smoke, whichever it may be. Or as an alternative, there was a pool table located in the dining hall for those so inclined.
Paddy and Dan are playing at the Sporting club every Sunday in September from 7pm. The music is spread out over three sets, so there is plenty of opportunity to catch some tunes, and few venues I can think of that would make a better environment in which to enjoy them.