IT was a damp, wind-whipped Thursday night in Astoria, Ore., but inside the Fort George Brewery & Public House an eclectic, standing-room-only crowd kept warm and dry. Ol’ Danny Barnes, a Washington State-based singer and banjoist, twanged and crooned before a hooting audience of Astorians who had poured into the space on their way home from work. In the crowd were Coast Guard officers, marine biologists, nursing students — and the waitress who had served me lunch earlier that day.
I finagled a stool at the pub’s sturdy wooden counter and, taking a cue from my bar mates, ordered beer-battered fish and chips and a dark, potent stout. Occupying the next stool over was Josef Gault, a Fort George regular and self-described “wild Hungarian.” Mr. Gault — actually a native of Detroit — is a musician and cultural events coordinator at the local community college. In his estimation, the town’s blustery climate and its cultural vibrancy are intertwined. “Because of its turbulent weather,” he said, “Astoria attracts artists.”