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Waterloo Ice House

An Austin institution opens a new location in Louisville.

So I'm driving up that hill on McCaslin Boulevard just before South Boulder Road, and this guy in a station wagon is merging into my lane, only he's not really merging — he's speeding up when he should be putting on the brakes and letting me pass. I move over into the next lane so the bastard won't sideswipe me. Whenever some moron pulls that kind of shit, I look over and scowl. So now I look over, and it's some dude with a hoodie pulled so far over his face, he looks like a Jawa from Star Wars. There's just this dark oval where his face should be.

This is the same route I took to band practice many years ago. We didn't play many gigs, but our last show has served as fodder for many dinner-party conversations. It was at a clothing-optional hot springs just down the road from Cañon City, Fourth of July weekend. The bass player, who was a member of the nudist resort, got us the gig. He and the keyboardist played the show in the buff; the rest of us wore swimsuits. We were playing for about sixty or seventy naked folks, and I really wished most of them had been wearing clothes.

I take a right on South Boulder Road and head to Main Street, then hang another right, which takes me onto what was Louisville's main drag a century ago. I park in front of Wildwood Guitars and make a note to return during business hours. Across the street is the Waterloo Ice House (809 South Main Street), which opened last month. The place is near capacity, so I grab one of the few seats left at the bar and look around. First thing I notice is the guitar signed by Social Distortion in a case hanging next to the bar. Next to that are a few signed photos of legendary Austin bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughan, which makes a lot of sense, as there are seven of these joints in Austin. On the opposite wall are signed copies of Bob Dylan's Biograph, Johnny Cash's Live at San Quentin and The World of Johnny Cash, and U2's Joshua Tree, as well as Miles Davis and John Coltrane posters. I'm really digging this bar's taste in music – which extends to live acts three nights a week.

But I move on, because I have another stop to make in Louisville: the Back Room (330 McCaslin Boulevard), which isn't far from Highway 36. The spot should not be confused with the short-lived Back Room in Denver; this bar is about to celebrate its twentieth anniversary. Originally opened as Gentlemen Jim's, it was purchased and renamed by Tom and Ginny Newman in 2004, and the menu was stripped down to just pizza and wings. But there's plenty to drink, and I'm guessing by the slurred words coming out of the few guys and gals around me that they've been here a while. Somebody orders four shots, and the bartender, who's on her second day of the job, lays out the shot glasses on the bar. She puts the bottle into one of those shot-tracking systems, which basically determines how much alcohol goes into the shot glass; I think these gizmos can also record how many shots are poured in a night. It's the first time I've seen one in a neighborhood joint, which seems a bit strange. The shot glasses look odd, too, and I finally realize they're actually the bottoms of beer bottles. Turns out that the Back Room's dishes and glassware are made from recycled bottles. Give these guys props for being green.

And also for staying around long enough to party on the bar's twentieth birthday, with live music by badass trombonist JD Kelly and the Blues Revue on Saturday, November 3.


Club scout: A few other bars celebrate anniversaries this month. On Thursday, November 1, Herman's Hideaway (1578 South Broadway), one of the longest-running live-music venues in town, will celebrate its 25th anniversary with half-price drinks; other specials follow through the week, culminating with a November 9 show featuring Lion Vibes, Judge Roughneck, Byron Shaw Projex and Humbuckers. And on November 3, the Royal Hilltop (18581 East Hampden Avenue, Aurora) will throw a fifth-anniversary bash, with Angie Stevens and Fong Jones providing the music.

Finally, KS-107.5 DJs Chonz and Danny will kick off their new Latin night -- dubbed La Squeeze -- this weekend at DC 10 (940 Lincoln Street). The crew, along with host Tony V, will be dropping salsa, R&B, hip-hop and old-school jams.

 
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