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Sunday Services

Bartender and podcast host Rory Dowd hosts Sunday Services at Headquarters.

Bartender and podcast host Rory Dowd hosts Sunday Services at Headquarters.


Rory Dowd is the “man about town” sort, known around Reno as a longtime bartender and co-host of the music-centric Worst Little Podcast. These days, he’s behind the bar at Headquarters—known as “HQ” at 219 W. Second St.—and bringing in local musicians for a new, weekly live show.

Dowd calls the event “Sunday Services,” and himself “Reverend Rory Dowd.” It’s a shtick, he said, that “just kind of offered itself up.”

“I was K-12 Catholic in the ’70s and the ’80s,” he said. “And I did want to go to seminary—so the Reverend Rory shtick really grew out of that. … It’s Sunday. It’s Sunday Services. It is also my service industry night. I do the specials all day. It’s not a night special.”

And Sunday Services music is not a nighttime event. Shows start each week by 7 p.m.—a pragmatic decision on Dowd’s part, meant to give folks a chance to catch new acts and familiar ones that normally play other local venues at later hours.

“It’s Sunday, early enough in the day to catch the day drinkers who might still be rolling around … and also early enough for anyone who’s got to work on Monday morning,” Dowd said. “A lot of people still do church and then a late afternoon, early evening dinner out on Sundays. This show, I thought, would be a nice, little dovetail after it.”

Dowd launched a similar event at St. James Infirmary while bartending there. This new iteration of Sunday Services has only been going for a few weeks now.

“It’s a different bar, and they are such different bars,” Dowd said. “Infirmary is definitely that kind of dark, close, cozy feeling. Here’s, it’s much more of a party place. It’s the Headquarters, with the bar crawls and the late-night EDM thing.”

HQ owners Ed and Heidi Adkins brought Dowd on board to bolster business during earlier hours and on slower days. He also does the bar’s booking for other nights—so Sunday Services, he said, can serve as an opportunity for him to preview new acts.

“It is definitely kind of a try-out night, auditions for later on down the line—you know, shows on a Thursday, when I can actually pay them,” Dowd said. “This is a donation show. It’s on the kindness of the audience.”

The shows aren’t just a booking opportunity for new acts, though. It’s also a chance for established musicians to play new music.

“Like I did with the early years of my podcast, I’m tapping friends of mine,” Dowd said. “They may be lead singers or guitar players in bands, who I know do solo songs, covers, their own songs they don’t do in the band. You kind of get this HQ unplugged, alternate version of some of their songs.”

On Oct. 28, the show featured Myke Read—guitarist for the local punk rock outfit Infecto Skeletons. He came that night to perform “tear-in-your-beer country songs and Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.”

Dowd said his Sunday Services event is still in its nascence at HQ, but he has high hopes to attract a larger congregation of music lovers.

“As a child, I went to church every Sunday, and there was the guy up on the stage with the book talking to everybody,” he said. “Now, here I am with my own stage and my own books and my own words to save everybody. And I like to think they’re words of encouragement and love, too.”

Mostly, he encourages those showing up to Sunday Services to bring $5 for the donation plate.