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Farmington restaurant finds inventive way to offer live music

Clancy's Irish Cantina kicks off Sunset Curbside Concert Series

Mike Easterling   | Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — After nearly two months, live music is back in San Juan County — at least on a modified basis.

Clancy's Irish Cantina, 2701 E. 20th St. in Farmington, kicked off its Sunset Curbside Concert Series on May 13 with artists performing in the restaurant's parking lot on the south side of the building. Patrons are invited to park their car, roll down their windows, and order and consume a meal or appetizer while enjoying the music and maintaining appropriate social distancing.

Clancy's general manager Lewis McMullen said the restaurant's staff came up with the idea while brainstorming about ways to liven things up during the COVID-19 shutdown. The eatery normally presents game nights, an open mic night and live music inside or on its patio, but those offerings have been suspended during the shutdown.

With their live gigs cancelled, McMullen said many of the musicians that Clancy's features have adapted to the situation by live streaming performances from their homes on social media. In many instances, fans can support those performers financially through online payment options, but those virtual performances don't allow for the direct audience feedback that many musicians crave.

McMullen believes he's found a solution to that problem while respecting government restrictions on social gatherings. Customers can order anything except alcohol from the Clancy's menu and have it delivered to their car. Patrons are not allowed to exit their vehicles and sit in chairs in the parking lot, but the Clancy's Facebook post about the event says they may sit in the back ends of pickup trucks or on tailgates as long as they keep their distance from each other.

"We thought, 'Hey, let's do something for the people," he said. "We thought we could do something in the parking lot where people keep their social distance in their car, but they can pull up and roll down their windows."

McMullen hopes the series is good for everyone's morale.

"Mental health is always important," he said. "I think everybody's sick of being stuck at home."

The shows get underway at 6:45 p.m. and lasts until dark. The Jose Villareal Combo kicked off the series on May 14, while Julie & the Boyz were scheduled to perform on May 14 and Rob Webster is featured on May 15.

Related: Farmington musician performs weekly concert series from front porch of his home

When Villareal opened the series earlier this week, he said it was his first public performance since St. Patrick's Day, even though he has played several times over the past several weeks for his neighbors from the front porch of his Farmington home.

"We haven't been out in two months," he said as he set up his equipment before the show. "We just want to make it as simple and painless as possible. We don't want to burn the house down, we just want to get back into a groove."

Villareal, who has been playing professionally since he was 12, said this is the longest he has ever gone without performing a gig. Typically, he performs four or five nights a week in San Juan County and around Durango, Colorado.

"Most definitely," he said. "The longest I go is three or four days."

His performance on May 14 was well received, with approximately 20 vehicles occupying the parking lot during the early stage of his show. Patrons expressed their appreciation by honking their horns as Villareal and his bandmates ran through a set that included the Eagles' "Tequila Sunrise" and Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl."

McMullen said he hopes to continue the series for as long as the shutdown of restaurants and bars remains in effect.

"If all goes well and we get a good response, yeah, we'll keep on doing it," he said. "And maybe other people will see what we're doing and do something similar at their places, as well."

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or