The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures

History bites

Bramhall shuttered; Jerks need a new home
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  June 24, 2009

closed main

Just a few months after the close of its upstairs neighbor, the Roma Cafe, the Bramhall Pub, long an institution in the West End, shut its doors two weeks ago. And while there's talk it may reopen after renovations, one thing is for sure: The 11-plus-year run of Jerks of Grass shows on Thursday nights, the longest-standing weekly gig in Portland, has come to an end.

Banjo player Carter Logan is sanguine about the run's end: "It was 11-and-a-half good years," he says, "but it wasn't like I wanted to be there another 11-and-a-half years."

But damn if it didn't feel like it could go on forever. Though the Jerks of have gone through a line-up change or two, their formula for success on Thursday nights never wavered: show up a little after nine, set up in no apparent hurry, wander through the crowd to grab a couple drinks (Ronnie Gallant always likes his whiskey), then power through three sets of alternatingly breakneck down-home bluegrass and some of the most technically proficient and progressive stuff you're ever likely to hear in a basement bar.

It was good enough that Doc Watson sidekick Jack Lawrence once sat in.

"He was in town for something an he just showed up," Carter said, and the Jerks never met a guest musician they didn't like. Fiddlin' Tim Farrell used to do the best "Orange Blossom Special" with them I've ever seen (Farrell's a whiz with the animal impressions).

"I loved how casual it was," Carter said. "It was, 'Hey man, what's up? Hold on, I gotta play a song.'" Fans loved that, too, chatting up the band between songs and calling out favorites. Plus, it was a great night for meeting like-minded soul-mates. Guitarist Jason Phelps met his wife Erica there, and stories abound of couples who hooked up at the Bramhall on a Thursday night, never to break up.

If Logan laments anything, it's that "they should have had one last party — we could have really put on a great night, and a ton of people would have come out for one last throwdown."

The Jerks say they've got plenty of gigs for the summer, but in the fall they'll be looking for another weekly gig at another venue. And maybe they'll stick there for a decade or so.

Related: Jason Phelps and his 2663.5-mile plan, I remember when..., Ripple effect, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Pete Wentz, Carter Logan, Jerks of Grass,  More more >
| More

Share this entry with Delicious
  •   ME AND MY GRANDMA  |  April 17, 2014
    There’s no question that Rob Schreiber’s Standard Issue play the hits.
  •   SO LONG, SLAINTE  |  April 16, 2014
    Why would so many lament a little venue with sightlines that make Fenway Park look wide open?
  •   THE INVINCIBLE OLAS  |  April 09, 2014
    The band have newly created Cada Nueva Ola , as rollicking as any family dinner table.
  •   DIGGING UP THE PAST  |  April 04, 2014
    Now Tumbling Bones have followed Ghost’s release earlier this year with a full-length debut of their own, equally impressive in its construction and execution.
  •   WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD  |  March 28, 2014
    The various instruments employed (mostly acoustic, in flavors of folk, gospel, and early blues) serve their purpose well: as a platform for Barrett to showcase her considerable vocal talents.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2014 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group