There comes a moment in every unplanned Friday night when you're faced with the inevitable question of, "What do you want to do?" At which point the person you ask usually answers with, "I don't know, what do you want to do?" Next time, instead of cleverly answering "I think I want to Shoop" [skip to 3:15], try suggesting to go to the Venice Cafe in Benton Park.I had heard of Venice Cafe from a co-worker but she had only mentioned hitting it up in the Summer for some live Reggae action. I had no idea what to expect on a cold Spring night but it I knew when I walked up to the front door that it was going to cost me some bucks to get in. A band called The Bottoms Up Blues Gang was playing and I wasn't sure I was up for live music and was for sure apprehensive about paying for it. I asked the bouncer, "What are they like?", referring to the band. He answered, "They're like this..." and did a little kermit arms thing. Sold.
You can tell the place is eclectic from the outside but you have no idea just how eclectic until you step in the door. It's colorful and well decorated, but most of all it's comfortable. The Bottoms Up Blues Gang hadn't started so I headed up to the second floor to check the place out. If you can imagine a perfectly lit bar, this is it. Wait... If you can imagine what a perfectly lit bar in my head would be, then this is it. I suppose it's a bit relative. Anyway, I was just finishing my Boulevard Wheat (Yes! They have it!) when the music started.
Within the first two minutes of the first song I was hooked. The first thing you notice is the lead singer of course. But this woman caught you off guard with her singing. She was fantastic. She bursts with energy and enthusiasm and it's very obvious she's comfortable in front of crowds. The acoustic guitarist was equally well studied in music. He took a seat, lowered is head and just killed it. They also had two older gentlemen in the band. Not old in real life, just old comparatively. Well, a little old in real life... One played the harmonica like an old pro and the other played a kettle drum of some sort. I enjoy the simplicity of just one drum and it fit the stripped down blues feeling of this band. I watched them for them next two hours and had to be dragged out to leave before it was over. They really were mesmerizing.
At the moment it looks like they are on a bit of a regional tour, but they'll be back in St Louis at BB's on May 12th. You should totally check them out. But I think I'm going to wait for the June 12th show at Venice again. Any takers? Keep in mind it's awesome when making your decision. Also note that they aren't a real "Gang" in case you were worried. I'm fairly sure they are referencing the classical definition. Please don't come wearing your Gang colors. If you aren't sure what those are, simply reference one of my favorite Yahoo Answers.