This is part of a series of reviews of bands who play weekly at local bars.
The show: Badness at Char's Has the Blues.
The look: Small, old-school blues dive, lit by red Christmas lights.
The smell: Wood and the street.
The taste: Sweet. In an old, sweaty kind of way.
Three words/phrases to describe the night: Groovin', chill, sing-along dance party.
Who to bring with you: A low-key friend who likes to dance and doesn't mind chatting with strangers.
Drink of the night: A Long Island or something sweet, with a cherry in it.
Char's Has the Blues, more often affectionately referred to as simply Char's, is a charming, divey little bungalow on Seventh Avenue. Dimly lit, and glowing red from the Christmas lights strung throughout the bar, year-round, the room radiates old-style charm. It's set up a little bit like a house, so when you walk in, it's like you're in someone's living room -- where an old-school dance party happens to be going on.
Though Char's may be best known as a blues bar, Badness rock the R&B and soul tunes that have become familiar to all over the past 40 years. You'll either find the songs overplayed or really endearing because you can sing along with them. So in a place like this, the thing you're looking for is whether or not the band can engage the crowd. Badness was successfully able to get people chatting, mingling, and even dancing. The fact that the stage is simply an extension of the dance floor certainly helps, and the lead singer ventures out, serenading individuals and inciting smiles.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I work at a bar that showcases similar music to Char's, so my opinions may be a little more biased than usual. While for me, the covers that Badness played were well done, it's hard for me to get past having heard them so many times. Having said that, I was impressed that things were pretty bumpin' for a Wednesday night. The tiny parking lot was full, and I had to park a few doors down just across the street. The night also lasted longer than most, and when I took off after midnight, things were still movin' and groovin'.
The close quarters inside also made things kind of fun. You wind up sitting next to, across from, and facing all sorts of people you didn't come with, and it's a neat way to chat with new people. While some of the patrons were more talkative than others, most everyone seemed friendly and lighthearted, and even the door guys (who are stereotypically angry in any venue) were smiley and joked around with the clientele.
Most of the crowd was middle-aged, but if you dig the music, can get past the cheesy band T-shirts, and aren't looking for anything too frilly, it's a good night.