There's always been a kerfuffle among some serious-minded musicians about playing at multipurpose venues like a sports bar, where the starting of live music takes a back seat to extra innings and sudden death. Equally, bands thrive on seeing each and every fan in attendance standing up front, preferably not scarfing down sliders or pneumatically drilling through corn on the cob.
But like George Costanza trying to combine sex, TV, and hot pastrami, people keep trying to co-mingle live entertainment with restaurants without sacrificing one aesthetic for the other. Joel Bachkoff, operating
partner at Stand Up Live and Copper Blues, saw the paucity of venues providing fine dining with live music, and throwing in a brick wall and a comedy club in for good measure.
A Jimi Hendrix portrait hangs between two live moss murals.
Courtesy of CB Live
Scott Thiel, director of operations for the new venture CB Live explains the vision behind this rebranding of a Copper Blue/Stand Up Live hybrid.
"With Copper Blues Downtown and Stand Up Live, you've got two venues, one of those being just a comedy house that sits empty most of the week. There's definitely enough shows, but during the day, most people don't go to a live venue during the day. To maximize your full potential as a company, our owner Joel said 'Why don't you put the two together?'"
The ability to be a full-service restaurant and a comedy club that has the capacity for the 300-person live event and expand to a concert venue that can accommodate 500-plus people — all on the same night — is achieved not with smoke and mirrors but movable soundproof walls. This past New Year's Eve, the pre-rechristened CB Live had Whitney Cummings on the comedy side and '80s cover band Rock Lobster on the other, and neither heard even a hint of the other.
"Both bars have full service going on, and after the ticketed event is over, the walls are raised up and everybody on the comedy side joins the live music already going on. It becomes one big space Friday and Saturday night especially after shows."
Rachel Rine, assistant
sales and marketing coordinator for CB Live, knows that even having any restaurant where the kitchen stays open till midnight or 1 a.m. is a rarity, especially one with a full menu at a live concert event. "One of our goals here was to get away from the fryer, to elevate the food so it's not just your run-of-the-mill typical pub fare food."
Veggie tacos: healthy but not heavy.
Some of the pub food favorites from the Copper Blues menu have carried over, like the Copper Cobb Salad, the Copper Burger, and their outstanding nachos. Chef Mariel (Ocegueda) has revamped virtually else on the menu, adding healthy choices like their veggie tacos and the scrumptious poke bowl, composed of marinated tuna, sticky coconut rice stir-fry veggies, avocado, toasted sesame seed, and honey ponzu.
Although the venue is attracting top tier comedians like Gilbert Gottfried, Dave Attell, Frank Caliendo, and Jeremy Piven coming up, a big national music act has yet to test CB Live's full potential. Still, live music is hosted seven days a week: Monday night features a local talent showcase called Studio Sessions, Wednesday night it's
karaoke with a live band, and Thursday is a country music-themed night called Western Standard. Cover bands like Rock Lobster and The Instant Classics play on the weekend.
And of course
there are rock stars of the immortal kind. Thiel's brother Gabe Richesson painted the large rock star mural by the box office entrance. Inside, another a 6-foot portrait of Jimi Hendrix hangs between two giant displays of art made up of live moss. The moss will change colors and eventually die like you would imagine Jimi did before kissing the sky for good.
Unlike Jimi, CB Live will continue to evolve. The grand reopening as CB Live will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, January 24, with comedian Brad Williams.
CB Live. Open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily at 21001 North Tatum Boulevard; 602-910-5161; cblive.com.