I tend to avoid the Stockyards when looking for my live music fix. Country music is not my drug of choice, and that's what you typically find in the Western-themed, touristy area. When you do find a rock 'n' roll club there, it tends to book cover bands. But lately, I've been hearing about a new club opening up that might buck that trend: The Whiskey Girl Saloon. And last weekend was the grand opening.
I got down there on the second night, and I could hear the sound of Sally Majestic singing about doughnut shops on Mars as I circled for a parking spot. Like most of the best places in Funkytown, parking is tough to come by in the Stockyards, but I managed to find a free spot in front of an abandoned boarding house from the 1920s, and hiked it in to the Whiskey Girl for my first look.
Sally Majestic was incredible as always, performing first-rate originals and even a couple of strange covers such as Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. This was all normal fare for Sally -- featuring Scotty Vernon (guitar), P.J. Fry (bass), John Stevens (guitar) and Tim Cowdin (drums) -- and that would be incredible for any other band.
The club itself is a touch above normal. It has a real honest-to-goodness stage, and a real sound booth. There were two bars, and a nice porch looking out over Ellis Street.
The sound system and lighting are a good start, but there is a need to put in some acoustic treatments, because normal band levels are too loud for the acoustics of this room. The sound was a touch muddy and yet better than a lot of Funkytown venues.
The stage lighting also could use some tweaking, but again, it was better than most. For only being open a couple of days, the place is off to a great start.
We the Sea Lions were up on stage next, and although I saw the Sea Lions -- Jonathan Badillo (guitar, vocals), Trevor Maher (drums), Brian McKittrick (bass), Joshua Badillo (guitar, vocals) and Benny Rodriguez (keyboard) -- awhile back in a small venue and was impressed, they really flourished with a bigger room and a bigger stage.
Finishing up for the evening was Calhoun, a pop band -- with Tim Locke (vocals, guitar), Jordan Roberts (guitar), Toby Pipes (keyboard), Danny Balis (bass) and Josh Hoover (drums) -- that has been a staple in the Funkytown music scene since 2004.
They started out a touch mellow after the windup we got from the Sea Lions, but quickly built the energy in the room back up. The instrumentals were flawless, and the song-smithing skills were first rate.
With shows like this, the Whiskey Girl may be the bar to add some variety to that part of town. It could use a few tweaks here and there (like not playing country over the P.A. between rock-band sets), but this is a very new venue, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.