Thursday, January 15, 2009
Charlottesville, music venues over the years
Before the Downtown Mall became the magnetic center of Charlottesville, there were spots in and around the “corner” that drew people. Many of the music venues of years ago were either on West Main close to the Corner, or on the Corner itself. Above are some photos from what was called the West Virginian, which was located in the basement below the Virginian.
I have no record of the name of this band, although they were excellent. The fellow playing the short-necked electric resonator guitar might have put the instrument together himself. I tried discerning the logo on the head. It looks a bit like a “Harmony” logo. As you can see, he ended up improvising from the floor.
There was the “Mine Shaft,” another basement, in this case, under where Studio Art is located, and “Trax,” a bit like a barn just over the railroad tracks. It’s said that Dave Mathews did his first playing there. Tracks booked all sorts of acts, including a few international groups. Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens played there, which was probably one of the best African music groups I’ve seen.
Miller’s has always been here, and will always be here, hopefully. When I first moved here, Dave Mathews was behind the bar at Millers, serving drinks and sandwiches. In this years film festival he played a “heavy” in “Lake City,” which has Sissy Spacek in the lead. Dave is convincingly menacing in the role.
Gravity Lounge is my current favorite place for music. The favorite act: The Asylum Street Spankers can't be beat, bringing together, humor, scathing commentary, and a bit of historically naughty swing. They've played there at least four times.