January 20, 2005 at 3:46 pm #47584
hey, this looks place looks cool :
Sing, Sing an Indie Rock Song
Most karaoke nights around town feature country or ’80s pop. Not so at Staccato, where Indie Rock Karaoke raises money for Oxfam’s tsunami relief efforts
2006 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009
A cozy spot where almost anything goes — poetry, country, jazz and loungey piano music.
Indie Rock Karaoke 01/26
When James O’Brien, Doug Baj and Cheryl Connelly opened Staccato it was yet another case of young entrepreneurs finding the scene lacking and then doing something about it. "We used to work together at a political nonprofit, the U.S. Conference of Mayors," O’Brien explains. "We’d go out to bars and clubs, mostly looking for a nice place to hang out, hear some music and have a conversation at the same time. We didn’t find that, and so we hatched this fairy tale idea to go in on a bar together."
It took a few years, but the three friends pulled it off, opening Staccato one year ago. On March 16, 2002, when they throw a first anniversary party, it will celebrate a slightly different place than the one they had envisioned, but one they’re still proud to call their own.
"Three years ago when we started looking seriously for a place, we thought that a little piano bar would be just the thing," O’Brien says. "When we saw this space we thought, ‘Perfect. The piano can go right there.’ "
And though Staccato has a nice piano in the very spot they were pointing at (a sweet-sounding Kawai baby grand) it’s not always the musical focal point. Right behind it in this small storefront of a club on the southern stretch of Adams Morgan is a small stage, on which perform all manner of musicians. "It became pretty clear early on that having it just be a piano salon wasn’t going to work," O’Brien says. "We found that a nice mix of music goes well in this space: It’s jazz nights on Sundays now, and after that we mix it up with torch singers and cabaret acts, folk-pop and ‘unplugged’ pop-rock, I guess you’d call it."
O’Brien takes care of the booking himself, and he’s got the ear for it. He used to be a full-time musician, playing guitar and piano with several New York-based bands before giving that up for Washington.
"What I bring to my job now is the perspective of having played in bands," O’Brien says. "Mainly that most club owners were the sleazy guys that ripped you off, so I was hoping to change that in my approach to booking music at Staccato. I know what a musician’s concerns are, and I’m up front about how things work as far as money goes, start times, volume levels, those kinds of things. There’s not a whole lot of attitude here from me or my staff, and I don’t usually get any attitude from the musicians. They know this is a cooperative thing."
Attitude is a word that pops up dozens of times when O’Brien is talking about Staccato, usually referring to its absence, and he’s absolutely entitled to talk like that, given the inviting and unpretentious atmosphere of the club. From the friendly staff to the simple hardwood floors to the local art on the walls, Staccato is one of the most welcoming little rooms in town.
There is a bit of awkwardness walking in, where a few tables battle the piano and the bar for space, but I skip the ground floor whenever I can and head up the narrow stairs to the balcony. There, you can grab a table against the wrought-iron railing, order one of the very decent burgers (or any of the other far-above average bar food items on the menu) and watch the stage below, drink your drink, have your conversation and allow yourself a very civilized night on the town.
O’Brien himself suggests stopping by during the week, as weekend crowds make it hard to navigate his small venue. "You could say that Fridays and Saturdays have a more aggressive crowd, just from the people who come out to this neighborhood," O’Brien says. "But ‘aggressive’ for us isn’t that bad. I hear about stuff that happens at some of the other clubs up the street and I thank the bar gods for not sending those people to Staccato."
As he watches Staccato’s popularity grow almost week by week, O’Brien says he’s certainly thought about expanding his space, but says "the reality is we’re not in a position financially to do anything like that." He says he has no problem remaining a "small, humble little place."
— Eric BraceJanuary 21, 2005 at 8:34 am #107053
I`d get up and do The Closer You Are by Guided By Voices
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