BEST OF: Wednesday, September 21, 2005
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Yes, she’s got ’em and knows how to use ’em: Rhea is just one of many leggy entertainers at New Orleans Nights.
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Brad Hines keeps the musos moving at the White Elephant’s open-mic nights.
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A spoken-word rhyme-maker drops science at the Black Dog.
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There are a lot of good alt-rock bands in Texas, but only the great ones appear larger than life onstage like Flickerstick.
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In a field all his own: MVP Musician Tim Locke.
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Power Plant manager Bradley Tipping with the tools of his trade.
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Tiff & Andi’s bouncer John Burleson is more brains than bulk.
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The reason folks flock to Arlington’s Hooters? The free beer, of course.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
On The Town

Bartender

Readers’ choice: Jenny, Rodeo Exchange, 221 W Exchange Av, FW

Staff choice: Brian Webb, Blade’s Prime Chophouse,

600 Houston St, FW

Mid-Cities native Brian Webb can serve up the easy patter as well as any drink-slinger (and can quote dialogue from The Big Lebowski as effortlessly as any hipster), but where Blade’s red-headed stalwart simply rises above the pack is in the elbow-grease department. No matter how slammed the Houston Street hang-out gets on weekends, you won’t have to ask twice for a refill. Heck, you might not even have to ask once.

Bouncer

Readers’ choice: Mike Price, Ridglea Theater, 6025 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW

Staff choice: John Burleson,

Tiff & Andi’s Place,

3516 Bluebonnet Cir, FW

Most bouncers rely on tight shirts and muscles to keep patrons in line — not John Burleson. Though no couch potato, Tiff & Andi’s regular doorman is more diplomat than bruiser. The former TCU English major can regularly be found propped up inside the too-cool-for-school hang-out with a work of fine literature in his hands (DeLillo and Faulkner are two faves). He’ll probably never throw a rowdy drunk out by the seat of his or her pants, but unlike most other bouncers, he’s part of why the place under his watchful eye is so great.

Cocktail Lounge

Readers’ choice: The Torch, 711 Barden St, FW

Staff choice: Pop’s Safari Cigar & Fine Wine,

2929 Morton St, FW

Though your face may be ashen the following morning, a night out at Pop’s — when the stogies are ablaze and the wine is a-flowing — conjures all of the midnight majesty that we normally associate with the concept of “cocktail lounge.” Neither a place to get hammered nor a place to act foolish, a good cocktail lounge is swanky but not pretentious, leisurely but not boring, and suave but not elitist. Pop’s offers more than 100 brands of cigars for sale, an almost equally voluminous menu of fantastic wines, and great service, courtesy of Velvet, Sarah, and the rest of the gang.

Pub

Readers’ choice: Ye Olde Bull N Bush, 2300 Montgomery St, FW

Staff choice: Chat Room Pub, 1263 W Magnolia Av, FW

The term “pub” — in its land of origin, Britain — essentially means “place where people exchange money for alcohol.” The Britons don’t say anything about how there has to be soccer on the telly and Union Jacks all around. A pub is a bar, and one of our favorite bars is the Chat Room. Ain’t nothing particularly special ’bout the layout (except for the WiFi-connected computers and internet access), and the internet jukebox is pretty cool, but what makes the Chat Room a “pub” nonpareil is its friendly vibe. The regulars here probably drink as much as the regulars any place else, but for some reason, there are hardly ever any fights, discrepancies, or other setbacks of note. “Mature” is the opportune word here. Sir Charles would approve.

Bar Bar

Readers’ choice: Black Dog Tavern, 903 Throckmorton St, FW

Staff choice: The Power Plant, 6463 E Lancaster Av, FW

The diverse patronage at the Power Plant is one good reason to make this place a regular stop. (The preppies who frequently flood most of the other big hangouts in town become tedious after about five seconds.) Other equally significant reasons: top-drawer service, a large and fine selection of booze, and cool décor.

Biker Bar

Readers’ choice: Chrome Grill, 2408 E Belknap St, FW

Staff choice: Chrome Grill

Even though it’s decked out like the backdrop to a Mötley Crüe video, Chrome Grill welcomes all kinds of bikers, from Kawasaki speedsters to Harley-Davidson easy riders and all points in between. The mouth-watering burgers and all-American beers could make even a mini-van driver feel like an honorary member of the Hell’s Angels.

Gay Bar

Readers’ choice: Hot Shots, 651 S Jennings St, FW

Staff choice: Hot Shots

Dancing with a Cochise look-alike in his underwear has never been more fun. It’s not that Hot Shots attracts Village People wannabes. It’s that the Clubland newcomer offers themes just about every evening — college night, karaoke night, movie night. Whatever the occasion, the freaks will come out ... well, come out further.

Lesbian Bar

Readers’ choice: Best Friends Club, 2620 E Lancaster Av, FW

Staff choice: Best Friends Club

A fortress about the size of Castle Grayskull, Best Friends Club is where all of North Texas’ She-Men and He-Ras can gather to fight off the religious right. Rations? There’s enough beer and booze, ice-cold A.C., and smoked barbecue on the back patio to last for weeks — or until the Rapture rids us of the (annoyingly) morally superior.

“Meat Market” Bar

Readers’ choice: The Library, 611 Houston St, FW

Staff choice: The After Midnight Club, 11050 S Pipeline Rd, Euless

Seriously, if you can’t get any nookie here, you may want to consider devoting yourself to the church or changing your sexual orientation. After Midnight is what they call a swingers’ joint — cover charge starts at $30 per person (only straight or lesbian couples allowed), and the place is completely BYOB. Forget the cat-and-mouse game: At After Midnight, you can warm up on the dance floor with a topless hottie or just sit back and scope out possible hook-ups seated at the various four-tops scattered throughout. The only challenge that you and your partner may face here is finding the flippin’ place — it’s damn-near totally hidden.

Neighborhood Bar

Readers’ choice: (tie) The Cellar, 2916 W Berry St; and The Moon, 2911 W Berry St, both FW

After-Hours Club

Staff choice: Neon Moon Saloon, 2509 Rodeo Plaza, FW

On weekends in the Stockyards, the fuzz doesn’t exactly add to the fun. Sure, they’ll keep the peace, but after 2 a.m., they’ll make arrests and dish out P.I.’s as if they’re doing folks a favor. Helping folks out for real is why Darren Rhea keeps his Neon Moon Saloon open past drinking hours — and then some. (His dancehall permit says that his closing time is 3 a.m., though Rhea has been known to take a liberal view of the rule.) In lieu of booze, Rhea lets the after-hours stragglers bring in coffee and pizza for sobering up. Though no one knows how many Stockyards partiers the Moon’s owner has helped keep out of jail — or out of car accidents — it’s certainly enough to give him the key to the Stockyards ... or at least this award.

Strip Joint

Readers’ choice: New Orleans Nights, 7101 Calmont Av, FW

Staff choice: New Orleans Nights

Despite the fact that the world- renowned Elegance Cabaret chain has come to town, there’s no denying which Tarrant County strip club regularly churns out the highest quality leg shows on a consistent basis. New Orleans Nights’ servers are hot and friendly, the décor is cool-looking enough to pass as swanky, and the steak and seafood dishes are typically decadent. No matter your sex or sexual orientation, No-No’s (as the place is affectionately known) makes for a great night out.

Exotic Dancer

Readers’ choice: Davi Supercinski

Staff choice: Susanne Biennas

This gal is worth taking home to mother, especially if Mom also likes watching a lithe, nubile 20-year-old do back flips in nothing but a g-string. Lake Worth resident Susanne Biennas is as sexy as she looks. Just catch her in action at her current place of occupation, New Orleans Nights. An equal-opportunity tease, Biennas flirts with the girls as well as the boys. In addition to wonderful proportions, she also has a great impish grin, a depraved, hungry look in her eyes, and legs that seem to go on for miles.

Sports Bar

Readers’ choice: Fox and Hound English Pub & Grill, 604 Main St, FW

Staff choice: Bronco’s Sports Bar & Grill, 900 Airport Fwy, Bedford

Look, people. This is America — Texas, specifically. We like our food spicy, our beer cold, and our sports gritty. Soccer, tennis, golf, ping-pong, and other assorted “pastimes” are for namby-pambies. Football, baseball, basketball, hockey — now you’re talking.

The quintessential Texas sports bar is equally tough. In Tarrant County we’ve been blessed with a few reputable meathead-ish, sports-related establishments, including the Bronx Zoo, Black Gold, Up In Smoke, Big Apple Café — and Bronco’s. Located in bedroom-community Bedford, Bronco’s is a cavernous yet intimate box, with cold beer, decent and pretty progressive-for-a-sports-bar food, and OK service. What makes the joint a winner, however, is its unique ambiance, emanating from a mix of photos of obscure sports figures, a comfortably dim lighting arrangement in which the only sources of illumination are neon beer signs, and — occasionally — original, live, local music. There are also unobscured tv’s in just about every nook and cranny of the place, and you can bet that none of them has ever been soiled by the pixilated imagery of a black-and-white ball being kicked by Euro trash across a large grass field.

Happy Hour

Readers’ choice: Blue Mesa, 1600 S University Dr, FW

Staff choice:The Wreck Room, 3208 W 7th St, FW

The Zen adage about “wherever you go, there you are” applies nicely to happy hours. The best is usually the one closest to your office. (If the bar also offers some really good drink specials, then that’s just icing on the cake.) For an employee of the Weekly (located on West Seventh Street), the potentially best, coolest happy hour is at the Wreck Room. During the witching hours between 5 and 7 p.m., the Cultural District-area rock venue that doubles as a neighborhood watering hole is relatively quiet, dimly lit, and comfortable. The beer is also cheap and the conversation anything but work-related. (Thank God.)

Drink Specials

Readers’ choice: The Moon, 2911 W Berry St, FW

Staff choice: Hooters, 5821 W I-20, Arlington

After the City of Arlington, under pressure from the religious right, put the kibosh on the city’s Hooters’ alcohol permit last year, area manager Brian Hood and his yummy crew of servers found a way to keep the doors open — free beer. Every customer 21 and older is entitled to two of ’em (beers, that is). Coupled with a basket of Hooters’ tasty hot wings, those two 12-ounce bad boys make for one helluva special.

Cheap Beer

Readers’ choice: Hooters, various locations

Staff choice: Steel Reserve 211 High Gravity, convenience stores

This malt liquor from Miller Brewing Co. doesn’t taste great, but it packs a big punch. The 24-oz. can has an alcohol volume of 8.1 percent and costs only $1.29 at most convenience stores. Drink three or four of these, and you’ll be totally blitzed. Steel Reserve has a better taste than Olde English 800 or Colt 45, but don’t think you’re getting some fine brew here. We don’t even know what the “high gravity” means; we just know it will get you high.

Margarita

Readers’ choice: Señor Sol, 2230 W Park Row Dr, Pantego

Staff choice: Los Vaqueros, 1446 N Main St, FW

Margaritas should be the drink everyone can agree on — plenty of sweetness to satisfy the biggest fluff enthusiast but carrying enough tequila punch to please even the burliest of construction workers. Well, at Los Vaqueros the frozen Margarita is like the Slurpee of the gods. Unlike the 7-Eleven drink, however, don’t take this one on the road with you.

Martini

Readers’ choice: Halo, 3051 S University Dr, FW

Staff choice: The Ashton Hotel, 610 Main St, FW

It’s hard to picture James Bond in Fort Worth or even in Texas at all. Still, it’s nice to think that if 007 spent any time in Cowtown he’d enjoy a nice vodka martini — shaken, not stirred — at the Ashton, with a sultry seductress by his side. Ashton’s version is well worth putting on a tuxedo for. The lovingly prepared concoction is served not too dry, but not watery, with a paper-thin layer of ice on top — just the kind of detail that the British secret agent would appreciate.

Beer Selection

Readers’ choice: The Flying Saucer Draught Imporium, 111 E 4th St, FW

Staff choice: The Flying Saucer Draught Imporium

Sometimes the obvious is the best choice for this yearly review. The Flying Saucer has about 80 draft beers and 130 bottled varieties. Just about every country is represented, from Peru to the Czech Republic to China. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for dopplebocks or brown ales or wheat beers or brews from Trappist monks in Belgium. And if you want to compare beers from different countries, Flying Saucer has “flights,” which give you five 5-oz. samples. Plus, you can soak up all those suds with a bratwurst plate.

Bar Décor

Readers’ choice: (tie) The Torch; and Blu Bar, 1215 Cooper St, Arlington

Staff choice: Caves Lounge, 900 W Division, Arlington

The parking lot looks like something out of Escape From New York — a pock-marked expanse of gray concrete. Inside is a different story: The walls glow in a chill-out hue of magenta, the lighting is watermelon pink, and columns on the bar are covered in mosaic tiles. Typically on the sound system is cooler-than-cool indie rock, the perfect accompaniment to getting lost in Caves’ plush black leather couches.

Jukebox

Readers’ choice: The Wreck Room, 3208 W 7th St, FW

Staff choice:Tiff & Andi’s Place

No, the juke at Tiff & Andi’s is not one of those internet jobs on which nearly every song imaginable is available for the spinnin’. T&A’s is a good ol’ fashioned big-box full of copious and diverse tunes. Even though a lot of the stuff is from the days of the club’s previous incarnation (the Boom Room), the titular owners of the new place have served as excellent stewards. They’ve also made a few additions, including some local goodies, such as the new one by alt-country purveyor Collin Herring, the compilation by rock singer-songwriters the Acoustic Mafia, and the latest from Tim Locke and Daniel Harville’s alt-art-rock outfit Coma Rally. Ain’t no other place in town where you can spin “Black Friday” (Steely Dan), “When They Come For You” (Flickerstick’s Brandin Lea), “Looks That Kill” (Mötley Crüe), Coma Rally’s “Coma Rally,” and “Night Train” (James Brown and Guns ’N Roses).

Outdoor Party Patio

Readers’ choice: White Elephant Saloon, 106 E Exchange Av, FW

Staff choice: Fred’s Café, 915 Currie St, FW

While any day of the week is fine for chilling out on the back patio of one of the most beloved ma-and-pa establishments in town, Friday eve is the best time to pay a visit. As chef Terry Chandler whips out his Texas-sized specials (don’t miss the mesquite-grilled ribeye or stacked enchiladas), the makeshift stage out back hosts the straight-ahead jazz stylings of Saint Frinatra. This may be the $1.50 Lone Stars talking, but we think Friday night at Fred’s is as close to heaven as most of us will ever get.

Best (Bar) Bathroom

Readers’ choice: Ridglea Theater, 6025 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW

Staff choice: Blue Mesa Grill

This happy-hour hot spot went all out with the restrooms. The artsy “M” and “W” glass doors lead into functional and fully equipped bathroom galleries. At a restaurant where “food is art,” as the delivery vans boast, no expense is spared to make the facilities part of that experience. The slate walls, fancy mirrors, and oversized sinks are pieces of art on their own. The stalls are equipped with spotlights, in case you’ve gulped down too many blue-hued margaritas and can’t see the toilet bowl. And Blue Mesa guests are lavished with the plushest of toilet paper rolls, in one-of-a-kind retreat-like lavatories.

Blues Venue

Readers’ choice: J&J Texas Roadhouse and Blues Bar, 937 Woodward, FW

Rock Venue

Readers’ choice: Ridglea Theater

Staff choice: Ridglea Theater

Of the Big Four rock venues — the Aardvark, Axis, Ridglea Theater, and the Wreck Room — the Ridglea has managed to up its game the most over the past year. True, the joint is still not as great-sounding as Axis. Nor is the Ridglea as musicianship-centric as the Aardvark, nor as hipster-cool as the Wreck. But by getting some fantastic touring shows (Bright Eyes, Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse) and by continuing to give novice local outfits opportunities to play, the Ridglea is slowly becoming a certified destination, a place that Dallasites may even go out of their way to visit.

Tejano Venue

Readers’ choice: Club Rock Bottom, 2101 Jacksboro Hwy, FW

Country Venue

Readers’ choice: Billy Bob’s Texas, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, FW

Acoustic Venue

Readers’ choice: The Moon

Staff choice: Richard Serra’s “Vortex” at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St, FW

Yes, this is stretching the definition of venue, but the acoustics within this steel sculpture (also known as the big rust-colored thing just outside the museum) are quite spectacular. The Weekly conducted an experiment in the interest of pseudo-scientific objectivity, taking a guitar and strumming a few chords inside the structure. The music resonated beautifully, and the firmament shone brightly above, which helps explain why on balmy spring evenings, musicians gather inside “Vortex” for mic-optional nights.

Comedy Club

Readers’ choice: Hyena’s Comedy Club, FW and Arlington

Staff choice: Black Dog Tavern

Nothing against Hyena’s Comedy Club down the street, but for shits and giggles on a journalist’s salary (freebies not included), the cover-less open-mic night at the Black Dog Tavern on Sundays before the jazz jam is the best bang for the buck. Comic vet Gary Hood moderates the proceedings and, as an added bonus, critiques the young’uns on their performances. Did they take too long to deliver their punch line? Did they mispronounce a name? Should they hang themselves? The constructive, always-courteous criticism usually gets as many yucks as the onstage train wrecks.

Band Name

Readers’ choice: Spoonfed Tribe

Staff choice: Two Cow Garage

This was a crowded field. There were cute names (Velma Loves Daphne, The Kind of Jazz That Kills). There were names that were fun to say (Bodudidudido, ZipZipZapZap). There were names that were fun to look at (SNMNMNM, Dingus T. Pigtickle). There were musical puns (The Dead Kenny G’s, Scary Manilow). There were complete sentences (Hitler Hated the Moon, Harry’s Got a Head Like a Ping-Pong Ball). There were names that conjured funny images (Ewok Death Coffin Throwdown, Exploding Chihuahuas). There were names we were tempted to pick just to show that we got the obscure references in them (Pirates vs. Ninjas, Kane Hodder). In the end, though, it was these guys from Denton whose band name had the best combination of imagery, wordplay, and local flavor.

Local Music Show of the Last 12 Months

Readers’ choice: Old 97’s, Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards, Ridglea Theater

Staff choice: Flickerstick and Coma Rally, June 25, at Axis

There are a lot of good alt-rock bands, and discerning the great from the merely above-average on c.d. is pretty much impossible. Not so, live. The above-average bands are just that — efficient, professional, and occasionally inspiring — while the great ones are uniformly larger-than-life. No one will ever know why, but Coma Rally and, to a greater extent, Flickerstick are two North Texas groups that look 20 feet tall onstage. At Axis, the two bands performed differently but equally brilliantly. Led by the monster songwriting team of Tim Locke and Daniel Harville, openers Coma Rally made up for their anemic crowd by playing harder, faster, and louder, almost in defiance of the indifference. As usual, Flick had a sizable audience, and the band strung concert-goers along like a 19th-century Russian novelist — dramatic moments were followed by sweeps of serenity, but only because another storm was brewing on the horizon. Looking at both performances as a single extended manifestation of the rock ’n’ roll ideal, there was nothing else in the county that compared.

MVP Musician

Readers’ choice: Willie Roy

Staff choice: Tim Locke

We love singer-songwriter Tim Locke not only for his musical brilliance as the mastermind behind the alt-country/southern-gothic outfit Calhoun, the captain of his own solo ship, and as co-leader of the avant-rock band Coma Rally. We love him also for his commitment to the scene. After one of Flickerstick’s founding members decided to go on what may amount to permanent hiatus, Locke was asked to join the fold. As former lead guitarist for pop-rocker Zac Maloy and, earlier, with his two legendary edgy outfits Blue Sky Black and the Grand Street Cryers, Locke was more than capable of picking up and putting his own spin on Flick’s rather atmospheric (read: difficult) guitar parts. Aside from Coma Rally, Locke’s other projects have unfortunately been put on hold, but a Locke-powered Flickerstick more than makes up for the loss.

Rock Star Attitude

Readers’ choice: Robin Phillips, Ridglea Theater

Staff choice: The Goulet Destroyers

First, the Goulet Destroyers are not a real band, even though frontman Chet Herringbone, on “lead rhythm guitar,” claims that he and his mates are in the process of recording some tracks as we speak. The band is the fictional creation of several bona fide local musos with apparently too much time on their hands. Even though the GD’s exist in cyberspace only (on MySpace), the influence of their satirical, fictional escapades has quickly become legendary. Mixing Robert Goulet-inspired “Vegas, baby” bluster and attire with crotch-rock poses, the GD’s have zero humility, apologize for nothing, and prove that making it in rock ’n’ roll these days requires no musical talent. All that matters is the ability to look cool, drink heavily (and expensively), and score chicks. As you know, in every good joke is a little bit of truth. The truth in the GD’s shtick is so real, you gotta laugh to keep from cryin’.

Unsigned Band

Readers’ choice: Darth Vato

Staff choice: The Color of May

The music industry is warped enough to make a body wanna puke. Of all the music on those allegedly ultra-hip indie-rock satellite radio stations, little of it is better than what comes from the mouths and guitar-playing hands of The Color of May, the Cleburne quartet that produces the finest, most melodic, most fun indie-rock in North Texas. Check ’em out yourself some time — they play the Wreck Room (3208 W 7th St, FW; 817-348-8303) next Fri., Sept. 30, or listen to some tracks at www.myspace.com/thecolorofmay.

Underrated Musician

Staff choice: Kevin Aldridge (Chatterton)

Maybe it’s his nice-guy attitude. Or his willingness to talk to the media about his band’s stuff. Or maybe it’s his desire not to “fit in” with all the cool kids on the scene. Whatever the reason, Kevin Aldridge never seems to be given the respect he ought to have. He’s not only worthy of the same graciousness extended to other members of locally based rock singer-songwriter royalty (Tim Locke, Brandin Lea, John Price, Collin Herring, Daniel Katsuk), he probably deserves our falling prostrate before him. To hear and see more, go to www.myspace.com/chatterton.

Open-Mic Night

Readers’ choice: Ridglea Theater Lounge

Staff choice: Tuesday nights at White Elephant Saloon, hosted by Brad Hines

The Elephant won this award last year, mainly because Hines determines who gets to play, and in what order, and for how long. Democracy is dead, which is a good thing at open-mic affairs; otherwise every hack with a cheap guitar, self-obsessed lyrics, and monotone melodies would show up and bore the shit out of everybody. This year, we considered several other venues for this award, yet once again we’ve got to honor the Elephant because Hines recently added a new perk — he records and burns a c.d. of every performance, then gives the disk to artists afterward. This is a nice way to say thanks to all the musicians who play for free — it inspires them to deliver their best performances, and it discourages them from playing the same damn songs every week.



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