Across the country, smoking in public is getting snuffed out, with mixed reactions. Only one month into the New York City ban on smoking in bars and restaurants (with few exceptions), a bouncer was stabbed to death for trying to enforce the rule. There's been a gradual reduction in restaurants allowing smokers to puff away during meal hours, and in a number of states, starting with California, smoking is prohibited in many public spaces, period. The health benefits to both smoking and non-smoking patrons are obvious, and many folks say it's been a long time coming. Maybe it is unlikely that something like the incident in New York would happen here, but is a large, non-smoking live music club welcome here in the heart of Tobacco Road?
Enter the possibility of a predominantly smoke-free Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill. Owner Frank Heath expressed his concern for both sides of the argument recently. Talking across the bar at the Cradle on a Saturday night while Bright Eyes led a sold-out bill on stage--another in a string of capacity shows during the last months--Heath wondered aloud about alienating smokers at the club, "On a night like tonight, I mean, what would they do? What would their reaction be?" Heath's primary concern must be the smoking patrons' decision to either stay home or suck it up while at the club. But he has a plan that just may prove to be a perfect buffer for those inclined to knee-jerk reactions from either position on the smoking issue. "We're talking about having the inside of the building being no smoking, but converting the rear outside area out here (referring to the rear parking lot behind the back bar) to a smoking area."
The issue of addressing concerns of ever-increasingly health conscious and second-hand-smoke-avoiding music fans is on the agenda of many club owners and promoters these days. It is encouraging that for Triangle music fans, (and all those folks that travel to shows at the Cradle from far distant lands), the issue is being handled in a way that may, in the end, have a happy ending for all. When asked if it was something that could happen in, say, the next three months, or so, Heath replied with a slight grin, "Hopefully. We'll see."
Jookin' to the jukebox
While a warm crowd, or a colder beer, is a big factor in a good rock club's atmosphere, what's playing on the jukebox can certainly swing votes, or shake the people in the room. Here's taste of what's been spinning at two clubs.
At Joe and Jo's down on Main Street in the Bull City right now, one might hear a funky slice of Parliament-Funkadelic, some sing-a-long sexiness with "Voulez-Vous Couchez Avec Moi?" have some tears drop in their beer with Van Morrison or even Hank Williams, and almost always get a daily dose of "Minnie the Moocher."
Hell in Chapel Hill has a spicy, varied flavor, too (they just won the Indy's "Best Jukebox in Orange County"). Recent spins include the red-clay grit of Jim Dickinson, the Scene Creamers (folks from rock group the Make-Up), and a new addition: the classic debut full-length from another breed of Texas homeboys altogether, the Butthole Surfers.
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