Posted by: guinness222 | January 25, 2009


    As I told you we went out to dinner with friends last evening at a restaurant called “Fire” www.restaurantfire.comabsolutely great food, service and ambiance. It’s like an old house with seperate “rooms” and we wound up with a whole room to ourselves. I won’t bore you with a “restaurant review” but if you ever get here, go there.

      So afterwards we were going to a place called “Sally’s Backside” to hear a singer named “Redd” Usually she’s on the road doing gigs in San Francisco, L.A. Key West, Atlanta, etc. etc. But when she’s home she “plays” at Sally’s.

     Now Sally’s is an old circa 1970’s convenience store/gas station (No glass windows cause we get hurricanes, simpler that way, and cheaper too!) with hardly any “pizzazz” , you know the kind no re-hab since 1970’s, old wooden screen door, dark at pitch inside because of no windows, just the neon from the cooler lights, pour another can of dark blue paint on her from the roof, old “smoker” sittin’ at the end of the front porch. (Used to have a four foot roof overhang extending the entire length of the building) inside 500 year old refrigerator chest and display chests that still work, a couple of picnic tables, two or three coffee urns, plastic buckets of condiments, mustard, ketchup, etc. and toward the back sort of an open old meat display case with homemade sandwiches, hoagies (submarine sandwiches) wrapped in shrink wrap with cryptic code written in indelible black marker on them. (“PB Tuk.let bac – 4.95) Translation: “Poorboy ( Louisiana slang for Sub sandwich) with Turkey, lettuce and bacon -$4.95) Or “Sache bis – 1.50(” Meaning “Sausage Cheese and Egg Biscuit – $1.50 each, if it was only a sausage cheese biscuit it would be  “Sach bis” no “e” no egg!) It’s sort of a “food Sudoku”, keeps you mind working even on the way to work or lunch.

      Anyway about a year ago Sally thought they might have enough interest for a small “Slam, Bam Thank You mam.” Lunch or comfort food dinner place, (one entree, that’s it, and Meatloaf about three times a week) so when all the local carpenters, plumbers, electricians ,who were eating there anyway, heard about it they kind of threw together this “back room” and made the entrance on the back of the building so Sally could close the old Convenient store whenever she wanted to. (Most of the inside walls are not finished, it’s just wood studs and beer signs, also most of the interior lighting is beer signs) Hence the name , “Sally’s backside” you got to go to the back side of the building to get into the food part. (Convenient window cut in the wall to the kitchen in the store though)

      Now since Sally already had a licence to sell beer and wine,…well hell add that in there as well. Nothin’ fancy, but it works. Sort of a strange place for a  well known singer to be playing for sure, but what the hell. (Since the price of gasoline went crazy last year Sally said “Screw it, we ain’t doin’ gasoline no more, but the pumps and all are still right where they used to be, and it makes for a good parkin’ space as “Visitors” still think they do gasoline pumping and don’t block the pumps. (Kind of a Locals Reserved Parking Place, you gotta love simplicity!)

       So we head in, (No steps, just one long handicap ramp! Another concession to simplicity “Law says you have to have the ramp, …but not the stairs. You un-handicapped folks just use the damn ramp as well!” The parking lot was full, about thirty or so cars out back alone. So in we go. The place is hoppin’ I hear Redd (color of her hair, real name “Helen”) belting out a tune, “Silver threads and Golden  Needles” and it sounds great! But I don’t see her!

       So I start to move around a bit and we are looking for a place to sit. My buddy Carl had reserved a table, right in the middle of the place, and in keeping with utilitarian simplicity,…and cheap, it was an old outdoor patio table, you know the kind that was like the wire mesh and had the black spray can paint on it. The stools were all different, I didn’t see two alike in the place. There was a piece of paper on the table with a chunk of duct tape that simply said “Carl’s Table – Sit someplace else!” By now I was really beginning to appreciate Redd’s voice, man you talk about someone being able to belt out a tune? WOW!! But I still didn’t see her.

       For as many folks packed in there there was only one bartender, a woman running up and down, out waiting on the tables, pointing to customers for refills’ (Sort of a sign language thing, arm up, bent at the wrist, point at the table with one finger over the top of the tables in between, never a word spoken. Signal received,…reply, raise hand, point one finger up and rotate the hand at the wrist. Translation: Bartender Hand Signal: “Yo! you in the back table, ya need anything, while I’m looking in your direction?”,.. Table Response hand signal, “Yeah another round of drinks for everyone at the table.”) It was then I noticed the female red headed bartender WAS Redd!

        She was skimming around the whole place singing the whole time, never missed a lyric or a drink order, made the drinks and delivered them all at the same time! Damn, now that IS multi-tasking! There was a sort of Karaoke Book being passed around and it was about nine or ten pages long, single spaced with the names of songs in it. She also did the “Go ahead and try and stump me” thing. As she’s whipping around refilling wine glasses straight from the bottle, slapping beers on the table and I have to admit she was UBER efficient, my bottle of beer never went empty lest Redd was there with a new one, Bam!

       If you wanted to take a shot, you simply hold up a five dollar bill, Redd is there like white on rice, “Whatcha wanna hear honey?” So I threw her a curve, “How about some Janis Joplin?” The fiver goes down the ample cleavage area, she goes back to the bar and yells, “A little Janis Jolpin folks.” She has a headset microphone on with the wireless transmitter, the signal goes back over to this guy sitting at the end of the bar sucking on a beer, bent over a laptop computer. His fingers whiz into action, and Pooof! Seconds later the opening strains of “Me and Bobby Magee” start. Redd is still moving, so I know there are no screens for here to watch, but she never misses a beat, or a note. She sounded as good as Joplin on the record (one of my favorites). After that she says “I’m gonna take a five minute break and just play bartender, but I’ll be right back here so if you got requests send them up, with $5. I’m hear until the $5 bills stop coming or ten o’clock whichever comes first, and in case you haven’t noticed when I quit the place closes, so keep those requests and fivers coming.”

        My buddy Carl tells me Sally goes home and Redd runs the place when she’s around and closes it up when it gets slow and goes home herself. How she keeps track of who owes what, who skipped on their bill (somehow I don;t think she would let them come in again, or at the very least make them COD! After a while we went to leave and go home and I picked up the bar tab for all five of us it came to $40, a deal at twice the price! She did the bill, ran my credit card, had me sign it, thanked me between lyrics of “Proud Mary” and was popping beer bottles, pouring wine, and never missed a beat!

      For sure I’m going back there again, only problem is you never know when she’s in town. If she is they hang a banner between the old gas pumps out front that simply says “Redd plays tonight!” Again simplicity apparently works because they tell me the place is packed everytime  she is in town.

      That was a hoot!!

     (Go check out the restaurant “FIRE!” web sight at the beginning and you will know why this was a night of going, “from the ritz to the pits” but a great night with friends!)


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