Deák Bill in Review


After writing that last blog post about some strands of Hungarian music, I actually got out and about and caught Deák Bill and his band at the Old Man’s Music Pub near Blaha Lujza square.

As soon as I walked in, I spotted Bill sitting at a table with friends. He’s easy to find in a crowd with his tell-tale crutch sticking up above peoples’ heads. The pub itself is a decent size. It serves as a restaurant as well, with table service up until 23:00 hours. The food looked good and smelled nice. The only oddity about this was that the waiters offered bar to table service for drinks to dining customers, but the hungry folks had to slug it out English style in order to get to the bar. It was worth it considering a nice pint of Soproni was only 550 forints.

As for the show itself, I had a great time, and it was much louder than I expected (earplugs required in my opinion). Bill had a young band with him consisting of drums, guitar, bass and a pretty sweet sounding keyboard. I would say they fall more into rock than blues, but wherever that argument leads, Bill can sing and the people love him. His voice is a bit rough at times, but he’s got some serious force behind it, and again, the people love him.

One young man behind me shouted “Bill a király!” after every song. This was followed by a whoop-whoop of sorts. It wasn’t anything awful, but it was a bit close to my ear. After about 20 of these, I turned and looked at the young man. Just remember that he probably spoke no English, and my Hungarian is just a little bit broken. Also, we didn’t speak to each other, but when he smiled, the look on his face said something like ‘You know I’m right, right?’. It was a pretty funny moment in the evening’s festivities. All I could do was smile back at him and nod my head in agreement.

Besides more than a fair share of Hungarian songs, they played Hungarianized versions of Hey Joe & Johnny B. Goode. At one point, people were shouting out requests. Bill replied with ‘Nem szabad’. This means not allowed. My inside sources say this was probably in response to a request for the Transylvania national anthem or something else suitably controversial. That sort of request is a sticky situation politically. Bill certainly came across as the nice guy for laying that request to rest.

I was also presently surprised by all the different types of people that came out to see Bill and his band. There were working class folks, those a bit more monied, Hungarian hipster girls (dancing up front and singing along word for word), intellectual types and plenty of average Joe types, or average János types as would be the case over here. Whatever their background or social standing, they all sang along and raised their glasses to Bill.

I will certainly see the king of Kőbánya blues next time he performs on home turf in Budapest. It’s a good night out, and the gig at Old’s Man Music Pub was free, although I know many of performances are not without an entrance fee.

I’m telling you, the adoration of the crowds, the amazing sound of his keyboard player and Bill’s voice make it all worthwhile to miss just a bit of the brilliance that is Hungarian television.

Bill a király!

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