Gone are the days where plodding cover bands ruled the nightlife scene in Evansville. Today, on any given night, guests can come across a neighborhood bar with an edgy folk singer, or a packed sweaty venue grooving to a touring band. Here’s where we’re meeting friends for music.
Deerhead Sidewalk Café
Many Tri-State musicians caught their first taste of live music in the venerable Deerhead Sidewalk Café. Known mainly for jazz and blues (and pizza!), the joint located at 222 E. Columbia St. has welcomed many of the areas top-tier musicians for years.
“We never charge a cover charge, and we always offer a wide variety of musicians, everything from jazz, bluegrass, classic rock, and blues,” says owner Chuck Johnson. “We’re also well known for our outstanding food, so most of our customers come for dinner and stay for the entertainment. We are adding 10 more draft lines to give us a total of 18 draft beers.”
Change is in the air down at the Haynie’s Corner Arts District. “The amount of new and planned construction on our beloved corner is mind boggling. At Bokeh Lounge, we are adding 3,300 square feet of bar space, new facilities, and a kitchen,” says Bokeh owner Mike Millard.
Bokeh Lounge, 1007 Parrett St., offers an eclectic mix of entertainment; folk, edgy rock, modern jazz, and standup comedy acts are on tap on a given night. “It is a warm, friendly, welcoming environment,” says Millard. “The performance area is up front and personal with the audience so I feel there is a closer connection between artist and listening fans.”
Lamasco Bar and Grill
Lamasco Bar and Grill feels like a small town bar. Those who frequent the bar see many familiar faces and if they’re newcomers, they won’t be for long, says owner Amy Rivers-Word.
Lamasco is expanding with more room for a new stage and a brand-new general purpose room. Almost all of the music is chosen by Rivers-Word, a musician herself.
“We are adding music at earlier hours, as this is the biggest request we get in terms of music, so we can help bring music to another demographic,” she says. “Our ability to book some larger bands, ticketed shows, more double and triple bills (more bands per night) is going to increase.”
Backstage Bar and Grill
Situated across the street from the Ford Center and next to the Victory Theatre at 524 Main St., Backstage Bar and Grill offers the Downtown Evansville crowd a convenient place to grab a tasty lunch or after work or game drink.
“Since we are located across from the Ford Center, we thought it was only appropriate to have up and coming acts that might even play at the Ford Center one day. Most importantly, we wanted a more upscale bar that with great customer service and cleanliness,” says Backstage President Matt Elpers.
Backstage is one of the few to consistently feature country music.
Order a glass of wine at Cavanaugh’s Restaurant at Tropicana Evansville and sink into the luxurious sounds of legendary local musicians Matt Clark and Bob Green as they play anything from Cole Porter to Elvis Costello. Other current performers include The Honey Vines and Bob Ballard.
Cavanaugh’s recently underwent a nearly $700,000 renovation updating wall coverings, carpet, and expanding the dining room. Fresh furnishings, lighting, and framed historic photos of Evansville were added to the interior. The facelift was one the first major projects to impact customer service planned by Tropicana General Manager Jason Gregorec.
“We went from nine seats around the piano to 27 seats at the bar,” he says. “We wanted a place where business men and women could entertain clients in a first-class facility. We are working toward a true four diamond restaurant with the ambiance, the music, and the food.”