Photo taken from www.jackieos.com
Jackie O's Pub and Brewery, located a hop, skip and jump away from the clamor of Court Street on 24 W. Union, has been a hot-spot for burgeoning Athens musicians for as long as I can remember; which is to say about two and a half years, since I arrived at Ohio University as a freshman. They've got a MySpace featuring acts that grace their stage, host well-attended weekend shows, and have traditionally been home intimate, acoustic open stage nights on Mondays hosted by the inimitable Junebug (to reveal his real name would be to, 1). ruin the mystique, and 2). assume that I actually know what it is. Investigation on the matter is forthcoming.)
Recently, Jackie O's has been something of a mess of construction work in their expansion into what used to be Skipper's Bar & Grill located next door, that space now dubbed Jackie O's Public House. If you've walked down Union during the past week, you may have noticed workers hauling wheelbarrows full of cement into the "old" half of Jackie O's. With this ongoing transformation, the bar's open stage nights have gone through something of an upheaval. Later this week, I'll be posting my thoughts on these new "open jam" nights, but for now, a loving look back on what was an extremely formative aspect of my experience as a musician in Athens: open stage in the "old" half of Jackie O's.
Monday nights were never hugely crowded at the bar. Often times, after lowering the fold-down stage from its resting place against the wall around 10 PM, Junebug would strum folk numbers until he either got tired of it, or someone else bugged him enough to vacate the stage so they could play themselves. Throughout much of spring quarter last school year, those people bugging him were myself a few of my friends, three (and sometimes four) overeager sophomores with a bunch of acoustic guitars. I'd like to think Junebug liked us, but sometimes it was hard to tell. I don't recall him once introducing us by the correct name; oftentimes he'd say "The Squeakies" or "The Squeaky Chairs," but never "The Squeaky Chairs Band." Surely it was all in good fun. I remember Junebug approaching the stage once after a number, adjusting my microphone, and giving me a "there, try it now, tiger" kind of look. A good deal of my technical on-stage know-how is certainly indebted to him.
But our own performances aside, there was always an entertaining cast figures inhabiting the stage. Sometime early during my sophomore year, one regular was a 5th-year-senior looking gentleman with a distinctive, yelping voice and a whole lot of energy. He did a bang-up job with numerous Kinks' songs. Then there's John, a middle-aged fellow who often played the hell out of Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets" and liked our band's version of Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel." There was also another guy who'd lug an enormous stand-up bass onto the stage, which was always fun to watch.
So, tomorrow is another Monday, and I plan on venturing into the Public House and trying my hand at the new set-up, which I hear involves electric guitars. To Junebug and the open stage of old: thanks for the memories.