A couple weeks ago I went to a show at The Brewhouse.
It was Chris Rodriguez & Abby the Spoon Lady. Many of you probably haven’t heard of them, which is understandable. They’re not huge. They don’t sell out arenas and radio stations don’t play their stuff. And they’re not even an act you’d typically see at the Brewhouse. But that’s why it was so great to see them there.
It was a Thursday night and the place was almost packed. And it wasn’t your typical Brewhouse crowd. I’d say it was an older demographic. But it was such a fun show. People were dancing, stomping their feet and having a great time. Even before the music started there were so many people that there was a 30-minute wait just to get appetizers.
I bring this up because what struck me was how great it was that a venue as popular as the Brewhouse took a chance on an act they weren’t sure would bring in a huge crowd. But you know what, it brought in a completely DIFFERENT crowd. Which is just as good to see. I saw people there that I know would never come to a Broad Street show otherwise. And they had a blast. They said they didn’t realize there was this sort of music downtown.
Jay Shell isn’t the owner of the Brewhouse anymore, but for years he has been bringing all sorts of music to Rome. He’s taken big chances and some of it has paid off. Some of it hasn’t. But say what you will about Jay, he kept putting people on his stage for OUR entertainment. He’s done a heck of a lot for Broad Street and for nightlife in Rome in general. A LOT of people know about and visit Broad Street because of Jay Shell. And the new owner of the Brewhouse seems to be following in those same footsteps. I believe Jay is still the one booking shows for the Brewhouse. And the downtown community is better off for it.
And it’s not just the Brewhouse. Every week venues in Rome and Floyd County bring musicians and bands to entertain their patrons. Some are from far away but many are locals — talented locals — who deserve our support.
I always hear people saying there’s nothing to do in Rome. That’s a lie.
Aside from fun outdoor activities, there’s also lots of live music. Places like the Moon Roof, Dark Side, Riverdog, Schroeder’s, the American Legion, the 400 Block Bar, Johnny’s — they all host live music on a regular basis. And every now and again the Forum River Center and the Rome City Auditorium host special music events.
We as consumers demand good live music. But we also have to SUPPORT it. Don’t complain that there’s not good music in Rome and when there is, you sit at home and play video games or watch Netflix. And I’m saying this about myself as well. I need to be better about supporting local live music.
Listen, I know there are some terrible musicians out there. But there’s some REALLY TALENTED ones as well — right here in Rome. Y’all ever hear Scott Thompson or David Bell or Clay Broome or Russell McClanahan play? That’s honest-to-goodness great music. Ever listened to Cory Tucker or Ashley Hill, Muletide or The Shameless Natives? If not, then don’t sit there and say there’s no good local music. Go listen to Jon Byrd. Go listen to Donny Hammonds. Go to a live music venue in Rome and really listen. It doesn’t count if you get drunk and loudly talk over the music. LISTEN.
I’d like to encourage our local venues to keep bringing good musicians to Rome. Keep taking chances. And more importantly, thank you for making room for our local musicians as well. Thank you for paying them to play. They’re OURS and we have to support ’em.
At the same time, I’m also encouraging Rome residents to get out and patronize these venues that stick their necks out by bringing good music to Rome in the hopes that people will come see it. With social media it’s the easiest thing to find out what venues are hosting live music. Take your friends. Tell everyone you’re going. Tell ’em to meet you there. Have some food, have a drink and enjoy an evening out.
Like I said, I need to be better about this as well. I always say I’ll go watch so-and-so play but sometimes other things come up. We all have things that come up. But just like we SHOULD support the arts, community theater, local sports and other things that enrich our community, so should we make a point to support local music.
I hope I get to see y’all soon at one of these venues enjoying some food and some great music.