Downtown nightlife hits a new note
Aug. 26, 2012 at 3:26 a.m.
Updated Aug. 24, 2012 at 3:24 a.m.
BY MELISSA CROWE
From date night to weekend getaways, downtown Victoria strikes a chord with music lovers.
The eclectic mix of wine bars and beer joints, gourmet dining, and live music – all within walking distance of each other – keep the sidewalks downtown open long after 5 p.m.
Jerry James, a Victoria singer/songwriter, said from his perspective, it’s “the more the merrier.”
James, 60, plays a mix of originals and country favorites, including Willie Nelson and Randy Rogers.
“There are lots of options,” James said. “They all try to offer something a little different.”
James is a regular on the downtown music circuit.
Downtown has “really developed a lot over the past several years and seen a lot of new musicians coming into this area,” he said. “We’re all having a good time with it.”
Greek’s 205 Bar, 205 E. Constitution St., rotates musicians on its house band to keep the tunes fresh.
Owner George Charkalis said music ranges from Frank Sinatra to Journey.
“It can be foreground or background,” he said. “If people choose, they can join in and sing along.”
He said many of the downtown venues can be defined by the atmosphere of their entertainment.
“We get a little crazy, but not too crazy,” he said.
Across the way from his establishment, Downtown Bar and Grill, 125 E. Constitution St., has been a part of the nightlife scene for 25 years.
Tim Lara, a Victoria musician, started showcasing his bands’ original music there in the mid-1990s.
“When people go out, 90 percent want to hear something they know – “Freebird” or “Margaritaville” – 10 percent want something new,” Lara, 36, said.
That’s where Downtown Bar and Grill fits.
For a low-key evening, 77901 Bar, 221 S. Main St., is a relaxing place to mingle with friends or to even go on a casual date. Music varies from contemporary piano to classic rock, folk and blues.
The Golden Gecko International Cafe and Bar is set up in the historic Hauschild Opera House, 202 E. Forrest St. Its entertainment ranges from live piano, karaoke, jazz, blues and dance.
Rosebud Fountain and Grill, 102 S. Main St., has live music Fridays during lunch and brings in oldies bands on the weekends.
The city is even joining in with monthly street dances and a lunch-time concert series at DeLeon Plaza.
Louise Hull Patillo, president of Victoria’s Main Street Program and owner of The PumpHouse, 1201 W. Stayton Ave., said the nightlife scene downtown is rapidly growing.
A new venue is set to open up soon, Steve-A-Reno’s Rock & Roll Blues Bar.
“It’s just going to get better and better, and we’ll have more and more opportunities,” Hull Patillo said. “In the last six months, we’re seeing the push to stay open later.”
The Main Street Program is in the beginning stages of marketing downtown as the arts and entertainment district.
“Downtown has such a varied spectrum of venues and music,” she said. “I think there’s something for everyone.”
She and her husband’s business hosts music Thursday and Friday nights and during Sunday brunch.
“We always had the vision of having music,” she said.
Depending on the band, there can be jazz, folk, popular and classics, any of which can change the vibe of the venue.
“There’s a difference in ambience of live versus canned music,” she said. “It’s like the difference between live theater and a movie.”