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Live music holds the reins at Appaloosa Grill

Whenever I get near Appaloosa Grill (535 16th Street), I think about the time my cousin and I tried to go there on New Year's Eve. It was about an hour before midnight, and the place was packed. We waited in line for a few minutes, and then the bouncer said he could let two more people in. He looked at my ID and waved me in, but then he told my cousin, "Sorry, man, I can't let you in dressed like that."

Cuz was wearing camouflage pants, Nike high-tops and a multi-colored Mexican serape thrown over his hoodie; dude looked like a gangsta-fied version of spaghetti Western-era Clint Eastwood. We were supposed to meet some girls at the bar, and I wanted to tell him that wearing that damn serape wasn't going to help him get laid — and it definitely wasn't getting us into Appaloosa.

But I didn't get the chance, because cuz got pissed off and started talking shit about the girls, saying he didn't want to hang out with chicks who'd go to places like that anyway. He was still cursing as we walked back to my car, completely oblivious to the fact that the serape was to blame for the whole fiasco. By now I was pissed off that this was turning into the shittiest New Year's ever. I was ready to just head home and get drunk, but then we passed Don's Mixed Drinks (723 East Sixth Avenue) and made it into the bar ten minutes before midnight. This time, cuz left the serape in the car, and we ended up rapping with some gals until closing time. It turned out to be a pretty decent night after all.

So was my recent visit to Appaloosa, where I stopped in for a Murphy's Stout and to listen to gogoLab, which has been playing there on Wednesdays for years. It seems like once you get a gig here, you're in for the long haul. The Clam Daddys — long-white-bearded blues dudes who look like cousins of ZZ Top's Gibbons brothers — have been playing Sundays for as long as I can remember; on Mondays, Gasoline Lollipops serves up punkabilly; Big Wheel rolls in with its neo-soul on Tuesdays; and Thursdays are reserved for the Americana of Motorhome. On Fridays and Saturdays, Appaloosa mixes it up with various bands. It's one of the few downtown clubs that features live music seven nights a week — and the kitchen serves until 1 a.m.

I just might have to give the place another chance this New Year's Eve.

Club scout: When 23 Parrish opened the Garage at 2301 Blake Street nearly two decades ago, it was one of the coolest spots in town. Hell, Nirvana played there in 1989. But when Polly Esther's took over the building, in 1998, the cool factor was replaced with layers of Velveeta. After that mammoth cheesy club closed almost two years ago, the multi-level, 5,000-square-foot space stood empty. Over the past few months, though, the club has been completely renovated, the floors stripped and the remnants of Polly Esther's removed to make way for Club 303. That venue finally opened last weekend, promising live music on the main level and DJs downstairs; a VIP room on the north side will debut in the next few weeks.

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon

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