Last Night: Blues and Booze at Long Wong's at the Firehouse

Long Wong's at the Firehouse owner Avi Sadote seemed a bit frazzled during last night's grand opening. It's to be expected, since was bouncing betwixt greeting patrons, confabbing with his bar staff, making cell phone calls, and working in the kitchen.

Providing a contrast to his harried state was the easygoing blues music of "RayRay" Hinkle and Sage Gentle-Wing, who were accompanied by singer Yuvonne Brooks. The trio performed for the better part of an hour, filling the bar and restaurant with some choice jazz and blues numbers by Nina Simone and B.B. King.

Sadote estimates that more than 200 people passed through Long Wong's during the evening, noshing on buffalo wings (natch) and sucking down selections from the bar. He'd hoped for more, of course, but was hampered somewhat by a week's delay in opening (due to issues with city of Tempe officials) and a miniscule advertising budget.

"I'm extremely optimistic that people are going to find us now that we're open," he says. "The word is spreading that we're here."

​Word definitely reached the ears of drummer Bobby Domings, who played the old Long Wong's on Mill Avenue more than a decade ago with old school alt-country band the Suicide Kings (later known as The Revenants). He'd heard about the opening from a friend of his and stopped by with Grave Danger frontman Kevin Daly to secure a Thursday night gig for their new Americana act Chicken and Waffles.

Domings was excited to have another live music venue in the city.

"For musicians like us, the only place we have these days in Tempe is the Yucca or Sail Inn," he says. "It's great having a new place to play, and it has great wings."

Personally, I'm hoping Domings and Daly aren't the only Long Wong's alums who will be ringing up Sadote for a show in the near future. Although it would be impractical to think that the Refreshments or Pistoleros would stage a reunion at the restaurant (especially since its stage area is about the size of your bathroom), it isn't unreasonable to wish that bands like Truckers on Speed, Los Guys, or Gloritone would make an appearance.

That being said, the new Long Wong's is, and never will be, what the old version was. That place died back in 2004 courtesy of a demolition crew. But that doesn't mean that the place can't find its own identity as a local music hotspot. As I mentioned yesterday, Sadote is seeking more of an "acoustic-driven" feel, which makes it a perfect fit for the unplugged sets by the likes of Chip Hanna, the Sugar Thieves, or Matthew Reveles.

I'd even wager that Valley indie darlings like Dry River Yacht Club, Turn Back O Man, or Fatigo.

Anyone interested in booking a gig can contact Sadote via e-mail at [email protected].

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.