The Angles

One of my favorite ensembles in Johnson City goes by the name These Are The Angles.

With heavy guitar vamping, touching melodies and lyrics to match, these guys will take you on a journey of emotional depths.

After releasing a demo, and a full length album entitled, “Lifeboat,” they have created a following of fans that relate to writer and front-man Matt Carter’s honesty. His lyrics seem as though they have been extracted directly from a personal diary.

His writing successfully depicts the beauty that comes from the painful experiences that come from the human condition, with songs that deal with death of close family, heartbreak and hopelessness, all while keeping in touch with the positives that come with it and overcoming such obstacles.

Needless to say, my eyes are usually closed when seeing these guys play.

 

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Late Late Night Grub

It’s 3:00 in the morning. You’ve been put in some liver-breaking work, drinking in downtown Johnson City. The lights at your preferred watering hole brighten as a sign of closing time.

You are starving. Where do you go?

There really is only one correct answer, being Mid-City Grill. As they are open to the inebriated public two hours after the bars close, the downtown crowd flocks to the burger joint, almost on instinct.

The food is fantastic, and that is not the alcohol talking. From mountainous burgers, a plethora of fried appetizers, and salads (if that’s your thing, after an alcohol fueled night), just about anything will hit the spot.

And if that’s not enough, Mid-City is completely BYOB. Yes, your eyes are working just fine.

As beers are cracking and burgers are flying from the kitchen, you can only imagine the good times that ensue.

Mid-City easily becomes the after-party’s after-party.

 

Calling All Nomads

The Acoustic Coffeehouse, located at  415 W Walnut St, Johnson City, has a fascinating reputation near in far to travelers of all walks of life. From the traveling folk and alternative music artists looking for an intimate gig to play, to nomads on the road experiencing what life has to offer, you never know who you may run into on the Coffeehouse’s back patio.

Some of my favorite conversations I’ve had in my life have been here, with old heads and travelers. They tell me tales of the road, experiences, tips for travel, and lessons learned, all which I deeply cherish.

During these conversations I always for appreciation for the paths we are all on and how they intersect and intertwine. Believing in fate, I don’t see us meeting at places like the Coffeehouse to be coincidence. As fantastic as it may seem, this is why I hold this place as important.

Its a building, a patch of land, where love, laughs, and journeys all intersect.

The Laughing Willow

In the midst of the busy bar scene of downtown Johnson City, The Willow Tree Coffeehouse rests at 216 East Main Street. This wonderful, family owned venue and cafe brings a warm and nourishing environment to what can otherwise be a crazy area.

I’ve always looked at the Willow Tree as providing a sort of balance to the downtown scene.

The Willow Tree reminds me of a loving grandmother that is infatuated with patchwork, patchouli, Cat Stevens, and keeping you warm on a cold day.

With beautiful artwork, talented music, and community-oriented events, such as an Earth Day event and “Boogie Down for Reproductive Rights,” The Willow Tree Coffeehouse is nothing but a positive and uplifting presence in our Johnson City community.

The Clubhouse

There is a sense of security that comes from having a common meeting place. The kind of place where you don’t need to specifically state the establishment’s name.

“Let’s meet at the bar.

For myself and the circle I run around with, the bar is Tipton Street Pub, located on 112 Tipton Street in downtown Johnson City.

If these walls could talk…

I enjoy being able to walk in these doors, knowing I’ll be seeing people I care about, but not necessarily knowing who I will see. Tipton Street is honestly a community of regulars who enjoy having a good time and sharing laughs with one another.

While not every night is incredibly memorable, nor is every memorable night really remembered, the times spent in those four walls and the people I’ve met I would not trade for the world.

 

Is There a Doctor in the House?

When a smaller city has a tight-knit music community of friend circles, different projects are not only frequently created, but they are usually interchanged.

Musicians, as friends, communicate musically and express themselves with each other, not necessarily in aims to create a new project, but just to enjoy playing with each other. If sparks fly from reaching a sonic mutuality in the fusion of expression, then those musicians allow those sparks to catch fire by throwing that other mutual friend that has this musical essence to bring to the table.

Before you know it, through this kind of conglomeration of comrades, you have something like Doctor Ocular.

Although the recently played their first public show under this name, being at The Willow Tree’s “Boogie Down for Reproductive Rights” in Johnson City, they are anything but a new ensemble. The guys have know each for years and have played with each other in different combinations with other friends. They all have a good feel for what they each bring to the table.

With this combination, the boys found the sweet spot.

A Sober Night Out

As much as I enjoy a lubricated conversation, sometimes the night gets out of hand. It’s easy to miss out on fascinating moments and observations when in the company of alcohol. Plenty goes unnoticed.

Is I am a student of the human condition and interpersonal communication, I would really like to see what a sober night out would be like.

It pains me to think about all of the cool aspects of nightlife and interactions between people that pass by without us noticing because of our consumption of alcohol. I guess I want to make up for lost time.

I can already think of plenty of obstacles and challenges off the top of my head… I mean, what is a bar for? Would you go to a restaurant to abstain from food? I want to enjoy all of the other things that go on in a bar with good friends without the influence of alcohol, but I’m not quite sure if the conversations would go as smoothly. People tend to respond better interacting on the same frequency.

Also, if you dive into a pool, you’re probably going to get wet… especially if you tend to swim a lot.

We’ll see how it goes.

Skankin’

When I think of festive music, my mind will usually go right to ska. With vibrant and lively horns, up-beat tempo, and heavy-hitting drums, its hard not to move your feet. Modern day ska, containing elements of grassroots reggae with splashes of punk, funk, and jazz, has  a little something for everybody if listened to with the right set of ears.

The band Demon Waffle of Johnson City is currently holding down the ska scene in the area, being that they are pretty much the only band in the area pushing the ska movement forward.

They had released their debut album, “Eat Your Breakfast” in the winter of 2012, and are currently mastering their follow up album, “Drink Your Dinner,” which they say will hopefully be released later this year.

The band recently played their longest set of three hours at Wild Wing Cafe, loaded with originals, covers, and creative mash-ups that kept the crowd surprised and anticipatory of what else was up their sleeve.

As I’ve seen the boys plenty of times and have shared plenty of drinks with them, I know what to expect. What was exciting for me about this show was the audience. Wild Wing Cafe always has an interesting mix of people that might not be apart of the Johnson City music scene. People were exposed to this lively music that, otherwise, might not have experienced.

Seeing people exposed and enjoying music outside of their comfort zone is one of my favorite things about this existence. It reminds me that we all have our favorite sounds, expressions, that we have not found yet.

In a way, it keeps hope alive.

https://www.facebook.com/demonwaffle/

 

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Just as I cherish the intimate conversations shared between two or three people over drinks, I love a good dive bar for more or less the same reasons.

The depth of an experience can be appreciated much more with less distraction.

With a smaller room, cheap drinks, a pool table or two, a functioning jukebox, and a staff that actually cares enough about their patrons to maintain a relationship on a first name basis, what more could you ask for?

In describing my ideal dive bar, I found myself describing Johnson City’s Crowbar, located at 123 E Springbrook Drive.

I love spending time there to blow off steam after a long work shift. They welcome me by my first name upon arrival, with my regular drink order waiting for me. Small tokens of appreciation and familiarity like these are what really take an establishment to the next level.

I have even taken a few dates there for drinks and a few rounds of billiards, and I must say, those dates in particular have always exceeded expectations. I don’t know, perhaps the genuine environment without the frills of an expensive restaurant or bar allows for a more comfortable date experience.

One thing is certainly true: If you don’t like a good dive bar, you probably won’t like me.

Buds and Suds

The sought after bar experience is not always that of a smoky madhouse of spilled drinks, testosterone, and boisterous voices. On the contrary. Some may prefer more intimate conversation over a beer. I know I much prefer this kind of interaction.

I like to fantasize that some of the greatest conversations to have ever been held were between two individuals at a bar with whatever preferred beverages in front of them. With the honestly that comes from the social lubricant of alcohol, people find it easier to break down social barriers and inhibitions that may make it difficult to bring their full selves and thoughts to the table.

From philosophical discussion, to advice on a bad break-up, people connect at the bar in a way that may not be accessible anywhere else but at a bar.

In addition, when two friends embark on a casual outing, they are sharing this experience. They take on what ever may happen with each others company, thus building the relationship they already share.