When several Little Brown Jug Brass’s band members went to the Ironwood on a Friday afternoon in preparation for our Album Release Party on February 20th, we got so much more of an amazing experience than we could have ever expected.

Most Calgarians and music aficionados know the Ironwood as the ‘go-to’ live-music venue in Calgary.  Many know it as a place that offers great service and food in addition to booking 430 musical acts a year.  What many may not know is that most of the Ironwood staff (in an extraordinarily high turnover industry) have worked with Pat McIntyre for over 10, some almost 20 years.  “One server started getting fed up that after 5 years of working here she was still being called the new girl,” Pat chuckles.

There’s a reason for that.  Pat very consciously runs his business intent on building relationships of mutual respect. He cares about everyone’s experiences at the Ironwood, whether they be the musicians, the patrons, or his staff. With a twinkle in his eye, Pat told us “I never tell people I own the place.  You look at me, I look like the busboy.”  Andrew Scholz promptly piped up “last time I played here, I remember specifically you took my empty glass!”

Pat’s pretty humble about a lot of things, but he’s pretty clear on how he wants to run a business. “It’s an ever-evolving structure – I will always have a lot to learn. But if people would just take a minute, they’d realize you get a better product by keeping everyone happy and involved.  And do it with honesty.”  And we were honestly blown away by the warmth and hospitality we were treated to.  So much so that an expected 1-hour meeting turned into several hours of conversation and staying for dinner because we enjoyed ourselves so much.

But what ultimately endeared Pat to our group was his genuine delight in supporting very young musicians and music education.  “I love the feeling when the high school bands come in and mom and dad are having a drink in a nightclub setting.  And hearing the kids say they get to play at the Ironwood. Aw man, that gives me more of a great feeling than when (far more established or famous musicians) come in.”

And that’s not just talk.  He invited us up to his office where there are notes and signatures from musicians scrawled across the walls, ceilings, and cupboards.  Andrew and his twin brother Mark Scholz lit up even more when they saw a signature from Luis Bonilla. Turns out, the Calgary Association for the Development of Music Education (CADME) brought in a trio of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra from New York to work with high school students, and Mark and Andrew were part of the group who got to play with them at the Ironwood.

“Getting to do a duet with Terell Stafford was one of the most magical moments of my life!” Mark shared, “Stafford had so much passion for the music.”  Andrew joined in about playing with Bonilla and Dick Oatts as well. “Think of who they’ve played with and how world-renowned they are – and they were interested in us!  If that doesn’t inspire you, nothing will.”  Pat wholeheartedly agreed, “That was one of my favourites that I ever hosted.  They brought so much positive energy.”

It’s no wonder Pat and his staff at the Ironwood have gone out of their way to make it as easy as possible for us to raise funds in support of PhilKids, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra’s Sistema-inspired after school music education program for underserved children. In addition to hosting our Album Release Party, they are creating physical space for us to host a silent auction, and have ensured that Nate Renaud of Big Nate Productions will live stream the event in addition to being our sound technician on the day.

You can join us at our Album Release Party on February 20th at the Ironwood by reserving your tickets https://ironwoodstage.ca/contact/  or immediately support PhilKids by directly donating online and noting that your donation is ‘in honour of PhilKids.’ https://calgaryphil.com/support/make-a-donation/

Any donation over $20 will generate a tax receipt.