published Friday, March 11th, 2011

Phillips: Emptier pockets, opened eyes after pub crawl

Even as I sit here looking out the window at a quilted gray, misty sky, it’s hard not to feel like this year just keeps looking up and up. Then again, with all those clouds, there’s a lot of silver-lining potential up there, so maybe it shouldn’t be entirely unexpected.

Last weekend, I went out on the first pub crawl I’ve been on in far too long. I emerged (well, woke up) a little lighter in the pocket but with opened eyes and fewer blank spots on my map.

I’ve been to Rhythm & Brews too many times to count, but last Friday’s performance by the Led Zeppelin tribute band Zoso reminded me why groups of their ilk do so well there.

I’m the first to admit that I prefer original bands to cover acts, but my resolve started slipping when I entered to the opening strains of “The Ocean,” my favorite Zeppelin song. After hearing Matt Jernigan flay his vocal cords in a performance eerily reminiscent of Robert Plant, and John McDaniel successfully imitate Jimmy Page’s guitar stylings, I was converted.

From there, I found my way into Taco Mac after checking out the dance hall above Raw Sushi Bar, which feels like a bohemian take on its now-defunct neighbor, The Mix.

Eventually, I ended up across the street at the Sing It Or Wing It karaoke bar, which I had been assiduously avoiding since it began spewing gag-inducingly bad performances into the Market Street airspace last summer. Despite my reservations, it was a surprisingly fun romp, rife with the delightful drunken buffoonery I’ve come to expect from karaoke joints.

Undeniably the weekend’s best discovery, however, was O’Heiney’s Pub, which I wandered into the next night.

Owner Rich Heinsman set up shop below Joe Friday’s on Houston Street about a month ago, billing the pub as Chattanooga’s only venue to combine German, Polish and Irish heritage, which is a kitschy way of saying it doesn’t fit comfortably in any one niche. After enjoying Chattanooga Brewing Co.’s delicious pilsner, warm pretzels and an equally home-brewed, welcoming atmosphere, I’m convinced its eclecticness is the better part of its charm.

The pub seats only a few dozen and, for the moment, is only open until midnight, but Heinsman said he’ll stay open as long as the drinks are flowing. My advice? Take advantage before word on this underground hole-in-the-wall gets out. And when you do, save me a seat.

I know it’s really easy to become complacent about how to enjoy your weekend, forgoing being adventuresome in favor of sticking with the usual haunts. If I took nothing else away from last weekend, however, it’s that the old and familiar may seem comfortable, but so does a coffin.

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I recently wrote about singer/songwriter Kyle Tallman reaching the finals of the London-based People’s Music Awards. Cadillac Saints’ drummer Jeremy Muse rightfully pointed out that I neglected to announce that his own band reached the finals in the Indie/Rock category. Show your support for these local artists at www.thepeoplesmusicawards.com. Voting concludes April 5.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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