Springtime came on full force this week with temperatures hitting record highs on a few days. It brought to mind a saying that I have heard in each of the three states I have lived in. "If you don't like the weather, just wait, it will change!" Wow, that saying is pretty much as worthless as "It is what it is." Oh yeah? Then what is it? Of course the weather will change, that is what it does, it's weather. Suddenly I feel like a young Andy Rooney. You ever notice ...
I skipped the jacket and bounded out the door to make a stop to see some friends in Sevierville before heading up the perma-construction of Route 66 toward Kodak. I had received an event invite on Facebook for Road Side Tribe at The Shack Bar & Grill. Now, I had ventured into this spot more then a year ago to check out the place and liked it, however at that time they did not have regular live music. I had met Michael Whitesides and his son Jacob at an open mic at KT's Bar & Grill when I had been looking for stage time for my comedy. We added each other on Facebook and I kept up with his various musical projects but never did check one out.
I arrived at The Shack with little trouble on a rainy Friday. I say with little trouble because that was much unlike the last time. The bar is in the same strip as a Food City between Douglas Dam Road and Interstate 40. If you follow the street address as I made the mistake of doing, you don't end up too close to The Shack if you use the same navigator I do. So I made my way to the parking lot, got my stuff together, snapped a shot of the exterior of the place and headed inside.
I was immediately struck by how much more room the bar appeared to have this time around. A wall had been removed to the left that had formed a barrier between the bar and the front of the room. In its place was an actual stage with various musical instruments neatly displayed under warmly glowing overhead lights. The band was taking a break and they had their gear on standby as they had a few drinks and socialized with the crowd.
I made my way to the short square bar toward the back of the room and introduced myself to the owner. Peter Georgiou and his wife, Carol, had taken the bar over in July 2011. Peter originally was born and raised in New York City, but like so many northerners, myself included, grew tired of the cold, crowded conditions and made a move to the South. He landed in Clearwater, Fla., where he was a food and beverage director for a major hotel chain for 11 years. With this experience, he decided to take over ownership on The Shack and give it a go. What?! Someone that owns a bar with actual experience in hospitality and food service? Revolutionary!
Now, I am not digging on you folks who open bars after being pizza-delivery drivers, but maybe it isn't just as easy as unlocking the doors and turning a beer light on in the window ... that's all I am saying. Needless to say, redesign of the bar and the menu were two things Peter knocked out right away.
I grabbed a beer and a booth and took some notes before the band began to play. Along bopped a red-headed server donned in her St. Paddy's green. She stopped briefly with a smile and asked me if there was anything she could get me. I glanced up and smiled and said, "Nope, I'm cool for now." She introduced herself as Bubbles, which I had to have her repeat because I could only imagine the egg on my face if I published an article and called a server named Becky, Bubbles. ... In my defense, the band WAS playing some music on the PA between sets and it was loud, and I was close to the speaker, and ... you get the point.
So Bubbles departed and the band retook the stage. They quickly launched into "Play That Funky Music, White Boy," which I don't believe I had ever witnessed a mostly white band attempt. With surprisingly amped-up energy, they bounded around until the bar's patrons got up and started dancing. A few songs later, Michael Whitesides welcomed son Jacob on to the stage to belt out "Moves Like Jagger." I had seen this little dude at an open mic before and was pretty impressed by his vocal range. The ladies in the crowd were now dancing like crazy. I glanced back at Peter, who was behind the bar; he nodded and smiled.
This is what The Shack was all about. People happy to be doing what they are doing and patrons thankful to have a place close by to let their hair down.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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