It’s certainly no secret that I’m a night person. It’s part of what makes me qualified to write this column; even in my other vocational life, I work at night, and as such I return to town most evenings at around the time the bar life is peaking. As such, I’ve come to know some of our late-night bartenders quite well, and I’ve duly noted a few that do an exemplary job at running their establishments during those stressful hours. Here are a couple of my faves (and this by no means disparages any of the other great ‘tenders in town):
Jeffrey, Charlie O’s:
This dude runs the bar like the captain of a ship. If you don’t follow orders, you’re thrown overboard. Watching Jeff multi-task is a thing of beauty; kicking someone out and making a martini at the same time...priceless.
Jay, Three Penny Taproom:
I’ve had the pleasure to work with him professionally, so I admit I’m biased, but Jay is a consummate professional and one of the most accommodating tenders you’ll ever experience. It’s always a pleasure to sit at his bar.
Haji, Langdon Street Tavern:
Also a tender at Sarducci’s. Haj’ makes the meanest cocktail in town, no matter what the flavor. His just always has a little something extra; and his specialty cocktails on Saturday’s are not to be missed. A master mixologist of the highest order.
Another great ‘tender in town is ‘Mel down at Sweet Melissa’s , and she also programs great live music nearly every night of the week, with the exception of tonight (they are closed for turkey-day). On Friday night, after Mark Le Grand’s Honky Tonk Happy Hour at 5 p.m., Nowhere, Washington will be joined by Mr. Yee and other local cohorts for an eclectic evening of hip hop/rock. The fun starts at 9 p.m. On Saturday night, ‘Sweets switches gears when they present The Dark Star Project on their black box stage. The band does an admirable job recreating the music of the Grateful Dead, despite lacking a Jerry-voice; the instrumental work more than makes up for it. Worth checking out for any old or young deadhead starting at 9 p.m. If you’re out early, you can catch Umlaut at 6 p.m. And, on Sunday, as always, it’s live band karaoke with The Butcher Blocks providing the soundtrack starting at 8:30 p.m.
Hopping over to Waterbury Center, Zen Barn keeps on keepin’ on with their excellent programming week to week. On Friday night, they’ll present The Mallett Brothers, “New England’s wildly eclectic crew of genre rebels” — (Texas Hill Country Explore Magazine). The band has made a nationwide name for itself as an Americana/country/roots act to be reckoned with, all while calling their great state of Maine home. “It’s like William Faulkner has been resurrected with an electric guitar in hand” — (Bill Copeland Music News). This one seems like a winner starting at 9 p.m. for $8 in advance and $10 at the door. For tickets and more information, visit www.zenbarnvt.com.
Back in ol’ Montpeculiar, Charlie O’s has got it goin’ on for the weekend as per usual. Tonight, you can more than likely catch a misfit-toys Thanksgiving celebration at our local dive for nice people starting at around 6 p.m. or so. On Friday night, O’s manager and bartender extraordinaire Abby Jenne will don her other uniform when she takes the back of the barroom fronting her band Abby Jenne and the Bald Eagle Death Spiral. Rockin’ Americana and straight up roots rock & roll will be on the agenda starting at 9:30 p.m. On Saturday night, it’s avant-jazz/poetry, and possibly etc. with Jaguar Stereo, the brainchild of Toussaint St. Negritude. That one also kicks off at 9:30 p.m.
Three Penny Taproom has been closed for the last week for renovations, but will reopen their newly spruced up taproom this week. On Friday night, DJ Zavwax will spin vinyl for your listening or perhaps dancing pleasure starting at 9 p.m. I’d expect a good homecoming crowd for this one.
A new spot in downtown Montpelier is Rabble Rouser, a multi-use space housing a number of eclectic offerings. This Sunday, they’ll be hosting an ex-tempo storytelling event starting at 4 p.m. Commercially known as “The Moth”, ex-tempo storytelling has become a quite popular form of live entertainment, and having attended and participated in some events myself, I can highly recommend it.
In closing, heading out to the more rural environs of Cabot, The Den at Harry’s Hardware has live music most weekends, this one included. On Saturday night, outlaw-country / rock & roll act Third Shift will take the diminutive barroom stage starting at 7 p.m. Most shows at The ‘Den are for donations to the artist.
That wraps up this week. Support your local bartenders, and go see live music.