Boyd's Jig & Reel
KNOXVILLE — There is just something about the intersection of Central Street and Jackson Avenue in the Old City.
In the early 1900s this part of Knoxville was full of deviant behavior on every corner. Brothels and pubs lined the street. The streets are paved today, but in random spots you can see the bricks used to make the road nearly a century before. The dome that sits high atop the third floor of Patrick Sullivan's on the corner seems perfect for a crime fighter to look out over the city streets for signs of evildoing. This fictitious hero would have a perfect view of the newly established Boyd's Jig and Reel sitting on the opposite corner from Sullivan's at that historic intersection.
The Jig and Reel has some relatively big shoes to fill, taking over the space once occupied by Manhattan's, which closed last year after a 12-year run (while Manhattan's had been at 101 S. Central St. since the late 1980s, the most recent ownership was 1998-2010).
The brick on the outside of the building had a nice vibrant touch-up, and from the street I could see some of the familiar items that existed in the days of prior pub. Upon entering Boyd's, the sound of mandolins and fiddles filled my ears as a server strode by, kilt swooshing with the rapid motion. The walls were busy with various Scottish paraphernalia and the room was well lit enough to reveal lots of fresh paint and many other signs of elbow grease.
I came to an immediate assumption: pretty lady in a kilt, thumbs up, but dude bartender in a kilt, well, he better have a solid Rowdy Roddy Piper impression complete with bagpipes and lion's mane of hair. The bar's owners and staff were very talkative and attentive to myself and my fellow Thursday night pub patrons.
I took my draft and camera into the room where the stage was to get a closer listen to the Celtic jam session I had read on the venue's Twitter feed. The stage was occupied by a young lady dancing about like happy little Hobbit in the Shire. The musicians were gathered around one with their chairs turned toward one another.
Jam leader Chad Beauchaine obliged me by getting the group to break back into song as I had wandered up just as they were taking a brief break. Two fiddle players sat across from one another and traded lines as a few folks sat out but periodically joined back in.
I attempted to capture it all on video, but the combination of the light from the street behind us and the darkness present anywhere but the stage made the footage only aurally appealing.
Upon paying a visit to the flush station, I came face to face with a voluptuous young lady who looked like Scottish Pin-up Girl art. She resided directly above the urinal. This bonnie lass had on a plaid bikini top and sat on an Indian-style drum while holding a bagpipe. No text existed, so I put my own assumptions together as to the meaning. The only thing that had me perplexed was why her eyes and mouth were way bigger then they should be. Hey, sure beats ads for bail bondsmen or DUI attorneys.
The Jig and Reel offers something seldom seen on a normal menu, a Scotch Egg. A Scotch Egg is a boiled egg wrapped in sausage then dropped in a deep fryer. Sounds like the last meal of the entire clan from the movie "Braveheart."
Further past the room where the stage resides was another room with chairs arranged in a more loungey fashion. In the back was the entrance to the kitchen, allowing two ways for the staff to get from the food to the floor. The floor stayed busy as new folks arrived while previous patrons remained. Only laughter occasionally rose above the sound of acoustic instruments strumming toward a common rhythm.
The music continued and the heads on beers rolled over the glasses coming to rest on the bar. A quick swipe from the barkeep's towel followed by a well-placed saying pulled me away for a moment. Was I even in Knoxville? No, this wasn't the Marble City at all lass, this, was the Shire.
The Jig and Reel will celebrate its official grand opening tonight with a performance from the Holy Ghost Tent Revival.
© 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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