Nineball at CK's Tavern and Grill

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This is part of a series of reviews of bands who play weekly at local bars.

The show: Nineball at CK's Tavern and Grill.
The look: Middle class sports bar.
The smell: Tank tops and testosterone.
The taste: Fried food.
Three words/phrases to describe the night: Thoughtfully casual, flip-flops, straightened hair.
Who to bring with you: Any 'bros' you know.
Drink of the night: Jager, with something you can sip on as a backup.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, this project has forced me to venture outside of my geographical bias. This week I took a ride to the southern part of the valley to CK's, a casual sports bar that is primarily lit by flat screen TVs mounted against nearly every vertical surface in the building, including a few hanging from the ceiling. Sportscenter was screening highlights from the Lakers' glorious defeat by the Celtics form earlier that evening. While the attendance was sparse, a part of me suspects that it had something to do with the aforementioned sporting event.

Nineball is a cover band, playing the likes of Brandi Carlisle, The Doobie Brothers, Jason Mraz and others. As part of this review, I must explain yet another one of my biases. I am averse to cover bands most of the time. While I can appreciate a few -- like ones that do a good job playing old country standards, or even occasionally well performed blues classics or other important but dated Americana -- it's hard for me to appreciate ones that play pop music or other overplayed radio hits from sometime in the last thirty years. Having said this, Nineball was good at the art of replication, which is all you can ask from a standard cover band.

This time, I brought some musician friends along with me to the bar. As they thoughtfully reminded me, it takes a lot of time and talent to correctly learn and duplicate the songs and styles of others. This notion of a "good cover band" is forcing me to come down off my high horse, admit my musical snobbery, and once again rejoin the masses of people with unrefined taste, thus re-evaluating my sense of quality.

I am typically quite skilled at identifying and separating what is "good" from what I like, (noting that they are often but not always interchangeable,) but in this case I was grateful to have others with me to remind me that what these people do is difficult, and requires skill to do well. If we take the notions of originality and creativity out of the equation, then cover bands can compete on a more level playing field with other locals.

Though I would never just volunteer myself to come to... deep breath... Ahwatukee... to see a... cringe... cover band, I realize that just because someone doesn't have good musical taste (and therefore may not desire original music) doesn't mean that they deserve crap. They should still be entertained by proficient musicians.

Having said this, Nineball was kind, personable, and completely informal, and did their job at playing the songs of others. Given that all other factors were equal, and that I had nothing else to pre-judge on, I'd always take an original band that I'd never heard of over a cover. However, if I was the kind of person inclined to hear a pop music cover band, this one wouldn't be a bad choice to have a drink with on a night you just wanted to be able to sing along. (But do yourself a favor and see an original band instead. Please.)

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