Joe Scarborough’s tie is gone, his shirt’s unbuttoned and there’s a guitar slung over his shoulder.
By day, the cable news and talk radio host and Republican former Congressman co-hosts MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” But this is Nighttime Joe — and he’s rocking.
“It’s dangerous for a Republican to be out on the Upper West Side,” Scarborough jokes from the small stage at Prohibition, a bar and restaurant on Columbus Ave. near 84th St.
His rock band, Morning Joe Music, is now the regular Thursday night act here, going on at about 8:30 p.m., and playing for two and a half hours.
Scarborough, 53, isn’t the only famous face to pass through Prohibition. Actress Elizabeth Banks was a waitress here, and singers Gavin DeGraw and Rachel Platten performed regularly.
The cozy pub has offered Prohibition-era cocktails for 20 years. “Now it’s the cool thing,” co-owner Richie Herschenfeld says. “Now every bar has eight different ryes, eight different bourbons.”
Prohibition also serves surprisingly good grub — like the wild mushroom ravioli — for a bar without a cover charge and live music nightly.
Scarborough just wanted a steady gig. When he turned 50, he started recording songs at home.
Music has always been an important part of his life. His mother taught him piano beginning at age 5. “I hated it,” he admits. “But she taught me enough that I could teach myself guitar.”
Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough on the set of “Morning Joe” and the co-host attends his music gigs.
By 12, guitar ruled. Scarborough’s first band, at 14, was called The Establishment, a nod to the Sex Pistols’ 1976 song “Anarchy in the U.K.”
A high school quarterback and law school graduate, Scarborough went on to serve in Congress in Florida from 1995 to 2001. After resigning, he started hosting MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country” in 2003, before leaving to concentrate on “Morning Joe” in 2007.
Through it all, his guitar and his main influence — Paul McCartney — have been constant.
For a man who grills world leaders, Scarborough is an unabashed, gushing fan when talking about his idol. When he landed “Morning Joe,” the talk show’s booker asked who his dream interview would be. It was, of course, McCartney.
Carole King, a “Morning Joe” fan, introduced Scarborough to his hero backstage at Radio City Music Hall in 2010. Scarborough was so nervous before the meeting that he considered canceling it.
“What could I possibly say that wouldn’t make me look like a jackass?” he thought at the time.
While Scarborough was posing with McCartney, someone backstage yelled: “He’s a Republican!” McCartney looked sideways at him, but remained polite, according to the TV host.
“It ended up being a great experience,” Scarborough says. “That doesn’t mean I still don’t want to interview him.”