I’ve heard about some more places Downtown throwing New Year’s Eve parties, and I’ve received additional details about some of the parties I already knew about. So here’s Take 2:
There will be a set menu dinner at Slim’s at 6:30 and 8:30. At 10:30 Walrus takes the stage, and will play until 3 AM.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: Fans of Walrus and/or Michael Patrick’s cooking. Crowd should be mostly locals who are fans of one or the other; not many tourists, maybe a few who wander in off Second.
Bardog will open at 11 AM on New Year’s Eve and serve its regular menu until 2 AM (they close at 3). The party will kick off at 5 PM with two hours of happy hour, then continue until close. No cover, bar open to all comers. Their doormen will be in tuxedos, although this is a place where you can feel quite comfortable in jeans.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: People who want to party with the Downtown core neighborhood crowd. It will be wild, but it will be friendly people who know how to party without acting stupid, getting in fights, etc. If I didn’t already have plans (see below) this would likely be my pick.
The King Beez take the stage at 5 PM, then the B.B. King All-Stars take over at 9:15. $25 general admission; $75 VIP ticket with reserved seating, a bottle of champagne, and party favors.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: Music fans who are willing to spend some money to ring in the New Year with a good band. Drink prices tend to be on the high side, although not to the point of being as outrageous as some parties (see “Peabody Hotel” below).
The annual New Year’s Eve countdown party broadcast on Channel 5. No cover, just stand out on the street, watch the bands at the Pepsi Pavilion if you want, beer or drinks available from restaurant to-go windows.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: People who want to spend absolutely no money and still go to a New Year’s party, and people who want to possibly be seen on TV for a brief second, and who are willing to put up with the cold and an unruly crowd to do it. Otherwise, avoid Beale. Of all the Downtown parties, this gets my vote for the “sucks the most” award.
December 31 is Calhoun’s Sports Bar’s first birthday. I haven’t heard about anything special yet, but I know they’ll be open and will have $1.50 PBR.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: The same people who are in Calhoun’s December 30, January 2, and all the other days of the year; people who like to hang with the South Main locals; people who want to drink PBR for a relatively cheap New Year’s bill. Note: If you’re hungry, eat somewhere else before coming to Calhoun’s (Harry’s Detour across the street is a good call, or see the Majestic Grille below).
Party starts at 8 with a $10 cover for UFO members, $15 for non-members. Champagne and party favors at midnight. As always, 75 beers on draft, and another 120 in bottles. Hot waitresses in miniskirts. Pool, darts.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: People who want to celebrate New Year’s in a very crowded mainstream bar. The Saucer tends to turn into amateur night on New Year’s Eve, full of douchebags who are there to “kick some ass” and “get some pussy.” Downtown regulars avoid the Saucer like the plague on New Year’s Eve.
Blues with Preston Shannon. $25 cover gets you party favors, finger foods, and champagne at midnight. Party starts at 8.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: Blues fans. This will draw a more mature crowd than Beale Street, although it’s still close enough to Beale that you’ll have to deal with the traffic and the parking. Preston Shannon plays Ground Zero frequently, so this will not be your one and only opportunity to see him and his band.
HARD ROCK CAFE
The Hard Rock will do a “guitar drop” on Beale Street at the stroke of midnight, dropping a Gibson guitar 100 feet from a 60 ton Barnhart crane. Performances by Surrender the Fall, The Franchise DJ Mic Tee, Dennis Coffey, and the official comeback show of Whiskey Penny.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: Hmmm. You’ll have to brave the cold and crowd on Beale to see the guitar drop, but Hard Rock is known for having one of the better sound stages. If you’re into one of these bands, or if you’ve never been to the Hard Rock and want to try it for the first time when there’s a huge crowd, you’ll probably like it.
HOLLYWOOD DISCO (formerly Raiford’s)
$15 cover, champagne at midnight, the usual disco tunes and 40s of beer.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: Anyone with a pulse. Seriously, who doesn’t like Raiford’s? Actually, I better qualify that for the benefit of people who’ve never been. If clubs with fog machines make your allergies act up, this might not be the best bet. Also, it’s a small club, and the music is LOUD. That said, we love the place. A top recommendation.
The Beat Generation will play at 9 PM. This is the Memphis band that went to play the Cavern Club in Liverpool, the Beatles’ home from 1961-1963, as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of rock ‘n’ roll. Thanks to rhythm guitarist Jeff Golightly for e-mailing me and providing me with details. It’s Rick Nethery’s band, and he and Jeff were in The Crime back in the day. Expect plenty of Beatles covers. Huey’s is a great place for band interaction with the audience, and you’ll probably learn a lot about music history.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: Fans of the 1960s British Invasion. Note that after midnight, partiers from Beale will begin to flow in to get something to eat on their way home.
KOOKY CANUCK (formerly Big Foot Lodge)
$2 Super Cold Coors Light all day (from opening at 11 AM). At 9 the party starts with DJ Tree spinning until 2. Champagne and party favors at midnight. No cover.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: People who’ve been to this restaurant’s parties in the past and had a good time; people who like big, cheap beers. The name may be different, but Shawn and Lana still know how to throw great parties. One of my top recommendations for people who want to have a fun, crazy time, but away from the “amateur night” crowd.
The Majestic will have their regular menu at regular prices with no cover, but Patrick will also whip up a few special dishes to celebrate the evening.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: People who want a sit-down dinner; people who want something more elegant than a crowded bar; people who want to get a good meal then go to a party elsewhere. That’s what my friends and I are doing: We have reservations for 30 at the Majestic for 7:30, then we’re heading to a keg party in South Main. If you like to “get buck” as my friend Johnny Mason likes to say, you may find the Majestic a little too sedate.
The Orpheum will hold the Bluff City Ball, with jam band The North Mississippi Allstars and Lucero headlining. Amy LaVere and Jim Dickinson will also perform. $30-45 tickets.
WHO WILL ENJOY THIS SHOW: Music fans who are more interested in hearing some good music than moving around and mingling to ring in the new year.
The Peabody is throwing “Aristocrunk New Year’s with Lord T and Eloise.” with a $35 cover. There’s also “The Scene” party for $25 with Andy Childs and the John Felix Trio. You can also get reservations for dinner at Capriccio ($95) or Chez Phillipe ($125), which includes complimentary admission to “The Scene.” The one year I went with a group to the Peabody New Year’s Eve party, there was a 25 minute line for drinks, 15 minute line to the men’s room, and drink prices were about 200% of what a reasonable person would pay. My group of friends and I were just about the only people there over 23.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: People who want to spend a lot of money to brag that they were at the supposed “THE place to be” on New Year’s Eve; people who want to ogle barely legals in skimpy cocktail dresses; people who enjoy standing in long lines. In my eyes, second only to Beale Street on my list of parties to avoid. Even the presence of Lord T & Eloise doesn’t change my opinion. They’ll probably play Newby’s sometime in the next month; go see them then.
PIG ON BEALE
$5 cover for “Louisiana Mojo Queen” Ms. Zeno and the Guy Venable Band.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: People who are already on Beale and get hungry and tired of standing in the cold. The Pig has some of the best ribs on Beale (I’d probably tie them with Blues City for first place). Zeno is one of the most underrated singers in Memphis.
Red Rooster will have the band Nix for their New Year’s Eve party. It consists of the singer from Deep Shag, two former members of Snozberry who also played in Deep Shag, and an Ardent producer.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: This is the Rooster’s first New Year’s Eve, so I have no past record to look back upon. My guess is, if you’ve enjoyed the Rooster on a very crowded Saturday night, you’ll probably like it for New Year’s Eve. See “Flying Saucer” for my best guess as to what the crowd will be like.
RUM BOOGIE CAFE
Dinner package with 3-course meal, guaranteed seating, party favors, and champagne for $85. Pam and Terry play from 5:30 to 9:30. James Govan and the Boogie Blues Band play from 10 to 2. Regular admission without guaranteed seating is $20.
WHO WILL ENJOY THIS PARTY: People from out-of-town who are willing to pay to guarantee themselves a seat to hear some good music; people who are part of the Beale Street crowd and want to come in out of the cold. These are two great acts, but they play Rum Boogie and other nearby restaurants all the time, so I can’t see a lot of Downtowners paying $85 or $20 to catch them unless they’re very dedicated fans.
That’s all for now. If you know of anything I missed, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There MAY be a third draft if necessary.