Oh, it’s tempting to make up a million fun categories and give out Stoobie Awards on Ashvegas forever, but ultimately, I decided to put a cap on it this year, eliminating such categories as Breakfast of the Year, Hot Dog of the Year, and Most Improved Venue of the Year. That last one seems like a back-handed compliment anyways, but the list of superlatives in general was getting too long and daunting. I hate being daunted at.
So I cut the fat and trimmed the gristle, but before doing that, I wrote some gobbledegook here and there on the above topics, most of it not worth publishing, but in the category of Least Annoying Music, I got pretty far, so I’ve finished it up, and posted it here on my blog, as an extra tid bit for you.
The nominees in the category of Least Annoying Music are…
ZAMBRA – Zomb’s has been a fave of ours since we first arrived in Asheville and part of the reason for that is the atmosphere. The lighting is perfect, the decor is inviting and just weird enough to be old-school Asheville style, and the music is ALWAYS not annoying. Whatever they are playing, I hope they keep playing it. It’s un-obtrussive, mellow, jazzy, modern, and pleasant. Every once in a great while I have noted to Dawn, “I like the music they’re playing,” but other than that it just kinda happens. This one time, there was a little jazz trio playing live in there, and it might have been the best live music I’ve ever experienced during a dinner out, ever. I hardly even noticed it! Except to think to myself that I was totally not being annoyed by it.
NIGHTBELL – Nightbell is the one venue on this list that I actually know a little bit about the music, and who programs it. César is in charge of the music at Nightbell, and personally, I love what he does. It’s definitely got that Euro-dancey-thing going on, but not in an obnoxious “thump thump thump” kind of way. Plus the lighting is set to change with the music in some magical fashion that I don’t quite understand, but I enjoy every much.
IMPERIAL LIFE – When they leave it up to the staff and not the DJ, the music at Imperial Life is great, and is often comprised of classic B-Sides by popular and lesser know Soul/R&B acts. B-sides are key. A-sides are for A-holes. And people under thirty. Commercials, cheesy movie soundtracks, and crappy FM radio have ruined just about every single A-side ever pressed for me, forever and ever. I never ever ever want to hear some of the greatest songs ever written and recorded ever again. And the bad ones? Holy shit. I actually got angry when the DJ played a Lionel Richie song at Imperial Life one time. It’s the staff that really seems to have a good thing going on there. A pandora station, or a really good iShuffle or something.
IZZY’S COFFEE DEN– Izzy’s is the one and only place in Asheville where I regularly wonder to myself, in a good way, “What’s this music?” It’s almost like listening to a really great college radio station when you’re in there. When I do recognize a tune or band I feel like I’m kinda cool, and hip, and not so old after all. Of course, having all those feelings only proves that I’m actually not cool, or hip, and I really am old after all, but… whatever! I’m still cool enough to go into Izzy’s and dig the tunes. Jerk.
URBAN ORCHARD – Dawn and I have noted on more than one occasion that the music in Urban Orchard is not annoying. It’s usually some kind of indie rock type of stuff, and it’s not too loud, or too whiny. I’m not the world’s hugest indie rock fan myself, so I never know any of the songs, which is one of the keys to un-annoying restaurant music. For the most part, I don’t wanna hear songs that I know. Too distracting. The otherwise excellent restaurant on Patton Ave known as Table nearly got a dang Peevey award for playing a CCR song during our elegant meal last July. No, thank you, I don’t want to Run Through The Jungle right now. I’m eating. Urb Orch scores high points for not annoying the crap out of us with their unfamiliar indie rock soundtrack.
And the winner isssss…
IZZY’S COFFEEEEE DENNNNNN!!! This was a tough call, because I really fucking love what César is doing with the music / lights / ambiance of Nightbell, but when I thought hard about it, I realized that unlike any other place in Asheville, I often feel like asking the staff at Izzy’s what’s playing. It’s that good. I’ll brave the cloud of cigarette smoke outside Izzy’s door and risk encountering more clouds of pure BO on the inside, just because I know I’m going to get a really good cup of joe at a reasonable price, AND some sweet jams that’ll make me feel like I’m listening to something fucking cool, hip, and different. It’s always at the right volume too, so thanks, Izzy’s, here’s your Stoobie Award: