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Day 223: Dance at Bradfordville Blues Club

24 May

BBCSimply put, if you live in Tallahassee and are over the age of 21 and have not been to the Bradfordville Blues Club, something is wrong with you. The first time I went to the famous Bradfordville Blues Club was in 2005, when I briefly lived in Tallahassee and my husband (then boyfriend) wanted to show me all Tallahassee had to offer. The club is located on the northeast side of town, down a dirt road and surrounded by oak trees with their chandeliers of Spanish moss. It’s easy to feel like you’re lost the first time you go – “Are you sure it’s down this dirt road? Really?” Just keep driving. The club is filled with the ghosts of blues legends past (B.B. King and Ray Charles is the rumor) and the warm bodies of blues legends of today. The best part about the club is its history. The Tampa Bay Times wrote a terrific article about the club’ s history. Bradfordville Blues Club was part of what was known post-World War II as the “chitlin’ circuit” for black musicians and was the place folks would go to after last call at Tallahassee’s Red Bird Cafe. It was bought by its current owners in 2002 by and offers a steady diet of blues musicians. The small cinder-block building that makes up the club is unimpressive. The intimacy is part of its charm, though. The club is only open on weekends and depending on the night, you will need to buy tickets in advance or get there early as it sometimes sells out. Its clientele tends to be all-ages, though it leans more Baby Boomer than most clubs.

Address: 7152 Moses Lane

Day 222: Sing karaoke at Top Flite

17 May

ImageApologies for the terrible photo. This is what happens when you snap pictures with an iPhone in a dark club. The big night to go to Top Flite, surprisingly, is Wednesday. Situated a few blocks from Florida A&M University, Top Flite is extremely popular with southside residents and FAMU students and graduates. I went recently with my husband to celebrate a colleague’s birthday and was really surprised to see how packed the place was on a Wednesday night. We had to pay a small cover charge and wait in line to get in. Once inside, we were able to grab one of the few open seats left. Top Flite isn’t known for its tasty cocktails or glamorous decor. You know the kind of club I’m talking about – floors and furniture with the wear and tear of decades of high-heels and spilled beer. The club is popular because of the location, atmosphere and fairly strong drinks. It was karaoke night and we kicked back to watch a half-dozen wannabe singers and dancers take the stage. At times it felt like we were judges on “American Idol” – the singers were that good. I was way too intimidated to try to sing or join the dancers on stage. Overall, an evening well spent.

Address: 623 Osceola Street

Day 217: Paint pottery at Firefly

17 Feb

I don’t have much artistic talent, but I can get into the whole paint-your-own-pottery experience. I was excited to find Firefly Pottery in Market Square recently and took my Lil’ Sis because I thought she would enjoy doing something artsy. Your first task is to select a piece of unpainted pottery. They have practical items, such as plates and bowls, and more decorative items, such as horses and frogs. I went with a bowl and Lil’ Sis got a horse. You pick colors next and if you ask, the Firefly girls will show you little tricks with the paint brushes and other tools they have lying around. I must stress that there is zero expectation that you know anything about art or painting. But it’s still fun, even if what you painted was probably what Picasso could do at age two. The Firefly girls will give you as much or as little help as you want. It’s a pretty kid-friendly place, with a kids’ playroom off to the side, and a summer camp, but they also have adult and couple nights and can accommodate large groups. The prices were pretty reasonable –  I paid about $35 for the both of us. You can bring your own snacks and drinks as well. After you’re done painting you pay and leave your contact information to pick up the pottery about a week later, after it has been fired in a kiln.

Address: 1415 Timberlane Road

Day 211: Eat and laugh at Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack

22 Oct

This week was my first stop at Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack, which sits in a rustic space near the Greyhound station in downtown Tallahassee. It was Wednesday night — Comedy Night! I chuckled, a few times. But frankly, the comedians weren’t quite ready for prime time and my table of friends was more interested in our own conversations than what the stand-up rookies had to say. We were a little rude, I’m sure. But I’ll be back – and probably again on a Wednesday night because the food was good, the price wasn’t bad, and the entertainment was worthy considering that there wasn’t a cover charge. I ordered a dozen steamed oysters, and they were pretty tasty and nicely sized. Still hungry later, I shamed myself and took in a burger. It’s a build-your-own burger-the-way-you-like-it kinda place. At request, mine came piled high with a plain treatment of lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion, along with some fries. The walls at Bird’s are covered in pictures, posters, album covers and signs, and the bar looked to be a restive place to hang out with a few TV screens nearby. Some nights there’s karaoke. Other nights they have bands. So don’t be fooled by the name, Bird’s is far more than an oyster shack. Beware that the menu is limited though it’s slightly broader than just seafood. And this isn’t a shack. There’s indoor and outdoor seating, and obviously on the right nights, a fun-filled group of patrons and friendly staff. –Mark Hollis

Address: 325 N. Bronough Street

Day 207: Watch a movie at All Saints Cinema

5 Sep

Many Tallahassee moviegoers were upset about the sudden demise of Miracle 5 this month. The theater was known for showing independent films that weren’t available at the big screen theaters. The answer to the loss of Miracle 5 is All Saints Cinema, which is managed by the Tallahassee Film Society. Located in the old Amtrak station near Railroad Square Art Park, the theater offers plenty of unique charm. The old Amtrack ticket office and red brick walls of the station are still there, but now there are several rows of movie theater-style seating and a large screen. On weekends there are usually two movies shown each night, think documentaries and other independent films. Movies shown at All Saints are typically previewed in the Tallahassee Democrat on Friday. One great advantage to All Saints is it only costs $7 per person. The concessions were pretty light – just a little popcorn machine tucked into a corner and some candy bars. The movie we watched was “The Woodmans” a documentary about a really talented photographer who committed suicide at a young age. One thing to note: they only accept cash and checks, so stop by the ATM machine head of time.

Address: 918 1/2 Railroad Avenue

Day 205: Watch an FSU student film

24 Aug

Florida State University has one of the best film schools in the country. It’s claim to fame is it pays for the cost of allowing each graduate film student to conceive of and direct their own 15-minute thesis film. I wrote an article about the making of a student thesis film awhile back for Tallahassee Magazine. Each spring, graduate students in their second year at the Film School embark on a four-month process of making roughly two dozen student films. The production process starts in January and ends about May and then the students spend all summer editing the film. In early August the films debut in “graduation ceremony” that is actually a free screening of the films in Ruby Diamond Auditorium. It is open to the public, though it’s not well-publicized and most of the audience knows or is related to one of the filmmakers. I went to the screening this year and was blown away by the talented films. The films were beautifully done and incredibly gripping. The actors, many of which were flown in from Los Angeles or New York just for the films, were phenomenal. Many of the films definitely are R-rated so be careful about taking kids to a screening. This year, the screening was split into two showings, one matinee edition and an evening show. One last thing – if you can snag an invite to the after-part at the actual film school, it’s well worth it. The music, delicious food and chance to mingle with filmmaker is priceless.

Address: Ruby Diamond Auditorium, 600 Copeland Street

Day 192: Watch a musical at Young Actor’s Theatre

11 Jul

Searching for a new a new way to entertain my little sister, I decided to try the Young Actor’s Theatre’s production of the musical Hairspray. The Young Actor’s Theatre is where anyone under the age of 18 goes to act or sing in a professional environment. The only difference between YAT and a professional theater company are the age and experience level of the actors. Hairspray was perfect to take my little sister to. At age 8, she could grasp the basic story line while some of hte “adult” jokes were over her head. Her eyes lit up when she first saw the brightly lit stage and colorful 1960s-era costumes. The production was pretty entertaining for adults, too. I was impressed at the level of young acting and singing talent that a town the size of Tallahassee has to offer. Our tickets were $32 for two of us, which I suppose is a bargain for theater, but seemed a little high to me. My only advice is to get there early. There isn’t a lot of parking and if you get there right before the show, you will be forced to park a long walk away.

Address: 609 Glenview Drive