The Tavern
by Michele Christopher

It's hard to figure out what to write for this. It's something that has to be experienced and the experiences are sometimes hard to put on paper.

So I asked my Smart Half what I should write for the next one, and he immediately said "the Tavern".

The tavern was 12 miles up a winding road on the banks of the Coos-Millicoma river. It was the gathering spot for the local community, and every Wednesday the place would fill up, packed wall to wall with the locals, and everyone who could play was packed into a corner. The floors were plank, it was heated by a woodstove. It was built in the late 1920s. People would spill out onto the highway and drink and smoke. The only ventilation was "open the doors and windows and maybe we can catch a breeze". Some folks would arrive on their boats, and tie up at the dock. You'd be dripping sweat after one or two songs, in the middle of December, with all the doors and windows open just to let the smoke and steam out.

My first experience at the place was one warm summer night when I got hauled up there by some people up the river I knew. It was packed when we arrived. sugar_shack.jpgIt was already rockin, and by rockin, I mean the floor was vibrating and the shit on the walls was swinging. There was no having a conversation. If you wanted one, you took your beer and went outside, and even then you'd probably have to holler. There was no room inside, so you danced out on the highway, just moved off to the side when you saw the lights of a car or logging truck barreling down the road.

I was invited up to play a few times, and near the end of the night I was playing "A Pirate Looks at 50" with the Wall o'Guitars and caught a sniff. I looked at one of the guitar players and yelled, "Damn, someone has some good weed outside!". He yelled back, "It ain't outside!" and nodded toward the bar. There was one of the patrons with a tampon-sized joint, taking it to each of the people playing, holding it for them as they took a hit, and going on to the next one. I decided right then that this was a place I would probably frequent pretty often.

And I did. Every Wednesday for two years, I cut my teeth on my bass there. I learned how to play with other people, and I learned how to jam. Jam in the manner of "I've never heard that song. What key is it in? Ok, let's rip". It changed owners at one point, and the party kept rolling. And when it finally closed down, when we played til far past closing time, it was a real bummer to lose it. The Tavern had been in existence under one owner or another for sixty-some years.

No more drunken canoe races on the river. No more falling down the embankment. No more Spike and the Nubtones. No more cramming 120 people into a space with a posted seating capacity of 50. No more riverdawgs (beer simmered sausages served with whatever was in the fridge as toppings). No more Wednesday night musical anarchy with people who's musical tastes ranged from Jimmy Buffet to the Misfits to Deep Purple.

Everything falls apart eventually, and you just move on to the next period of weirdness that comes along. At least you do when the city you live in is 150 miles from the nearest interstate.


even city girls like me can relate. when we lost our favorite local club it was such a bummer...

great description, pril. made me nostalgic.


Great story, Pril.

When I was pre-legal, we had this little JC Hall where local bands would have shows. It was really the only place for an underage band to play.

This went on for a couple of years. Then the owners of the building decided they had some insurance issues with mosh pits and the like, so they stopped letting bands rent it out.

I understand.


see, you love reading my stories cause they are so different from your experiences

i love reading yours cause they are so different from my experiences

great job on the story

i loved it


Yeah, nice one pril. Sounds like you have a few more Tavern stories to tell.....

Kind of reminds me of a bar that I could get into when I was 17, called Somewhere Else. Open mic every night, double rum & cokes for 2 bucks, at least two fights every weeknight. Good times, no sausages though.


Great story, pril.

We had one, too. Fat Head's. Dirty, filthy place with two pool tables and a dart board and jukebox that was pure rock and roll. Except for Summer Wind by Sinatra. It was part biker bar, part dopehead hangout, part local watering hole for old men who got kicked out of their house for the night.

It's now a dessert cafe.


That is cool. I wish I could say there was someplace cool like that nearby.


Pril, that was exceptional. Really well done.


Cool story. I really like that picture too. What is that?

We had a local hangout too. I think the themes always run the same and all can relate.

Cheap, dirty, loud and OURS! Just a place where you can go and feel comfortable.

And no, they never last.

Nice effort. I look forward to reading more.


The pic's from the opening of "Good Times", I think... Goddamn, I miss that show....

Florida always seemed to make everything all right, even with James dead and her being out of work. And Janet Jackson across the hall getting burned with an iron....


finn i cried when james died.

(not when janet got burned, but she sure was smokin')

i still know every word to the theme song.


having that tavern close was like having a chunk of my soul ripped out. Well, if i hadn't already sold my soul to the devil i guess... i ended up working there one day a week and as a fill-in, and the regulars were a fine bunch. Loggers, fishermen, bikers, retired folks, tourists (who managed to find it). That's the tavern i hung out at and watched the 9/11 coverage. The preferred beer was Hamm's in a can. It was just a really cool, mellow place and i have not found one like it since then.


the pic is from the opening of good times.

you just need to gis "good times" and you will find the artists site. If you have good enough eyes, like i don't, you can read his name on the pic.

Ernie Bames(?)


Sounds like a great place to open so we'll have a place for our new band to play! Places like that are hard to find. Arrrgghh! Sounds like an adventure, matey! Shall I bring the pine cone and the stick? LOL!


O jesus my RL friends are finding their way over here! What the... someone's gonna pay! lol! (Natalie and I are dangerous)


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