BREAKING NEWS – Fire impacts: Musicians will miss old home
Live, from Nevada City, music. Seven nights a week for over 20 years.
When Friar Tuck’s Restaurant & Bar’s owner Greg Cook first took out a business license in October 1974, there were only “the last of the real frontier bars” in Nevada City where musicians played, one musician recalled Wednesday.
The Crazy Horse Saloon and Duffy’s Success, which was where Cirino’s Restaurant is now, were about the only venues where musicians could play on a regular basis, Mikail Graham, a musician, said.
Back then, Friar Tuck’s was much smaller than it was before a fire early Wednesday morning destroyed it, Graham recalled.
“It was just a real quaint little place, just a few tables, musicians sitting on a little stool,” said Graham, whose family has been in Nevada County since the 1800s. The ceiling was covered in “monk-like” burlap, he said.
Over the years the restaurant with music every night grew popular and took over next door, Graham said. “When it was remodeled, it was a huge change,” Graham said.
The place became Nevada City’s hub for live music, providing music to patrons.
“Friar Tuck’s only continuous live music club that’s been here all those years,” said Graham, who’s played guitar with Ivan Najera, George Souza, John Girton and Tom McDonald.
One of those musicians described the loss of that venue in a fire early Wednesday morning as “devastating.”
“Everyone’s taken it for granted in Nevada City,” said guitarist Gregory Leupp, the Wednesday night act, whose played there since 1980. “It is a drag for the musical community.”
Leupp joined other regular solo musicians in describing Cook as a dominant force for creating Nevada City’s music scene. Other restaurant and bar owners followed Cook’s lead in having live music.
But only Cook regularly offered live music “where you walk in and have dinner and hear music,” Leupp said any night of the week.
John Girton, a guitarist who has played there Thursday and Sunday nights, noted that Friar’ Tuck’s “employs quite a few musicians.”
“It was kind of a home for a lot of us,” Girton said.
The music was usually about four hours a night, he said.
“It was just was a real part of the community,” Girton said. “People would just come by and hang out. Musicians come in and jam there.”
Another sign of Cook’s support of the live music scene was the built-in PA system so musicians “didn’t have to drag it in,” Girton said.
Peter Wilson, a guitarist and contemporary folk singer said there were a number of musicians who thought of Friar Tuck’s as a regular gig.
“The schedule there has been for years that on Monday there are various artists, Friday and Saturday, too, a rotation of about ten solo acts, myself included,” Wilson said.
On Sundays and Thursdays, it was always John Girton, Wilson said.
Tuesday is George Souza. Wednesday is Gregory Leupp.
“Friar Tuck’s has been a mainstay for people earning a living doing that,” Wilson said.
“It’s a total tragedy for musicians,” Wilson said.
“It’s really strange,” Graham said about the fire. “I’m in a daze.”
“We’re just lucky it didn’t take out most of the town.”
Editor’s Note: For more stories and photos of the fire, see the rest of our Web site.
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