You from here? The Hole in the wall venue crawl
Last year's venue crawl plan was simple– in one evening, we would pay a visit to every major music venue in town that we could think of, scoping out the scene there and having at least one drink per locale. To avoid avid treading of water, this year our plan is to check out the smaller venues around town, the ones that most stereotypical Charlottesville inhabitants have never been to, never thought of going to, and mention of whose name usually brings a glassy eyed response.
Cast of Characters:
Mark Hook music editor
Damani – Hook music reviewer
Ray Townie– towering wit in a 5'11" frame
Máire– Student– she's humor trapped in a bottle
7:23pm Damani calls Mark and tells him that he's going to miss the 8pm meeting time, because some of his " boys" are still over– Mark succeeds in suppressing his urge to say "yo" a lot.
7:40pm Mark, Máire, and Ray leave Mark's abode downtown for an evening of education and debauchery. Máire is driving, which puts her in control of the music– Tiffany's debut CD becomes the soundtrack to the evening.
Máire: "Listen to Tiffany's haunting voice..."
Mark: "You mean that echo?"
Máire: "And she's still around too, giving interviews on VH-1."
Mark: "Does she still use echo?"
7:54pm Venue: Asian Buffet
Location: Up 29 North, next to the burned down Chiang House location, in front of Motel 6.
Explanation: Though not a music venue, Asian Buffet does have a fabulous Polynesian drink menu (all types served in special glasses– like parrot heads and tiki torches), and it seems like a great place to start the evening.
Description: Very buffet-like
The scene: We might have been the first customers ever to sit at the bar there– the wait service seems shocked we just wanted to drink, and keeps offering us the buffet. Bar crowd, other than us, was non-existent, and those consuming did not seem to want to shoot the breeze with us.
The music: Mostly Nick 'toons background music from the overhead television– although they seem to have some piped-in Asian Buffet-themed music.
The drinks: A zombie for Mark and Ray ($4 each), a diet Coke and two shots of rum for Máire ($4 each shot, $1.25 Coke)
Ray: "Who do you think makes these little parasols?"
Mark: "Skilled laborers."
8:32pm Pass by The Grounds, the new coffee shop in Seminole Square; occasionally they have musical acts– Mark saw Howie Campbell play his songs of faith and devotion there a few weeks back. Ray is not wearing his seat belt, which Mark quickly remedies, shortly before the former quotes Chinua Achebe.
8:50pm Venue: Lazy Parrot Grill
Location: In Pantops shopping center, next door to Roses.
Explanation: Drinking in a strip mall– 'nuff said.
Description: A very well lit and family oriented bar. Woody. They do not make us give a credit card to start a tab– nice.
The scene: Some families, many early 30s gentlemen (Máire was a hit).
The music: Jimmy O is every Tuesday, but nothing tonight. They're playing a nice compilation of post-Beatles Lennon songs on the speakers.
The drinks: Whisky sour for Mark ($4), Sierra Nevada for Ray ($4), Diet coke and rum for Máire ($4).
Mark: "I got a 18070 on Galaga!"
Máire: "Was that the high score?"
Máire: "No, that was 195500."
9:29pm Venue: High Street Steak and Grill
Location: East High Street near Free Bridge
Dexcription: Ray: "Where students, tourists, and townspeople were never meant to meet." A dark little railroad style watering hole– what a bar should be. The men's bathroom has no lock, and the toilet has no walls between it and the door.
The scene: Locals, mostly. The sum of any two of our ages can't match most of the patrons', but after they get over their initial leering at us youngins', everyone is extremely friendly.
The music: As we enter, the Benny Dodd Trio is performing "Twist and Shout"– quite well. Karaoke Tuesdays, Benny Dodd Trio Thursdays/Sundays, and Split Decision Fridays and Saturdays.
The drinks: Budweiser ($2.50) for Mark and Ray, Diet coke and rum for Máire ($4).
Máire: (To band on arrival) "We're here!"
10:18pm Venue: Firehouse Bar and Grill 10:22pm
Location: Preston Avenue
Description: After changing hands not too long ago, the Firehouse has morphed from a bar for the more salt of the earth types to a venue meant to attract the more hip-hop crowd. Reminds Mark of a bizarre Tokyo Rose– walls painted red, but more spacious and open. Kinda part High Street Grill / part Blue Light Grill
The scene: Máire– "Where locals go when they want to feel mod."
The music: Though when it opened after refurbishment it attempted to become a live music venue, the clientele were not up for it. Puffy, Nas, and assorted others dominate the soundtrack there.
The drinks: Vodka tonic for Mark ($4), Sierra Nevada for Ray ($4), Diet coke and rum for Máire ($4), Damani... uh, some beer maybe?
Máire: "Are you married, Damani?"
10:49pm Venue: Outback Lodge
Location: Preston Avenue, across from the Firehouse
Description: Though our efforts at actually seeing the inside of this venue were thwarted last year by a cover charge, this time we do not have that problem. The place is very dark and smoky, and the wood quotient is several notches above the Lazy Parrot. The stage is separated from the bar by a low wall.
The scene: Young men, mostly there for the evening's Metal Showcase: The hardcore/metal band Psychopus is on as we come in. A family attempts to eat dinner next to the band.
The music: The Outback Lodge has picked up a lot of the slack the Tokyo Rose threw out when it stopped booking Goth and Punk bands– three to four nights a week local or mostly regional bands haunt the stage here.
The drinks: Nada– we were feeling a bit too full of the good stuff to make an attempt.
Ray: "I think that song was about the high price of gasoline."
11:32pm Venue: Atomic Burrito
Location: Downtown mall, in the old Liquid space.
Description: With a darker scheme, but everything else the same, Atomic Burrito looks like Liquid's evil twin. They're open till 2am, stock a full bar, and serve burritos that whole time.
The scene: It's pretty hopping for a small, late night eatery. Though we and Ray's entourage who've just arrived constitute half the total number of people there.
The music: Because the place recently opened, bands fit into the little space to the left of the door. Soul-rocker Ezra Hamilton has been playing here with some regularity, and pop-rocker Travis Elliot has an occasional show at the venue.
The drinks: PBR for Mark and Ray ($3), coconut-rum, grenadine, and ginger-ale for Damani ($4), Diet coke and rum for Máire ($4).
Máire: "This place is like flying in the Enola Gay, dropping the old H-bomb over Nagasaki at the command of Harry Truman..."
Mark: "You mean the atomic bomb. Fat Man."
12:54pm Venue: Dürty Nelly's
Location: JPA extended
Description: Small-looking from the outside, the inside is a quaint little wood themed establishment, where the lights are low and everybody knows your name. Dart board is on the back wall.
The scene: We are not sure what happened to the last hour and a half, because by the time we get to DN, it's closing down. Ray and Damani have a smoke at the bar and the staff there subtly persuade us to leave.
The music: From the Irish sounds of King Golden Banshee to the pop/rock of The Trouble With Harry, DN has quite varied semi-weekly musical offerings.
The drinks: None offered, none consumed.
Ray: "...well, it is like one in the morning..."
It may have ended on a down-beat, but this year's venue crawl left us anything but down– Damani's theory of .3 degrees of Charlottesville's alcoholic's separation, Mark's Keanu Reeves joke, the discovery of Máire's hidden love of Slipknot– all made the next morning, with all its headaches and strange beds, worth it.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO