BEST LIVE MUSIC CLUB - Mootsy's - The fact that Mootsy's emerged as Spokane's favorite live music venue this year says a lot about the customers who frequent and the people who run this small and unassuming bar on West Sprague Avenue. No one really saw it coming, least of all owner Rick Turner. Over the past seven years, Turner has (he admits, somewhat reluctantly) transformed his modest, friendly little beer joint into a modest, friendly little beer joint with hard licks and great live tunes. Mootsy's is now not only a favorite among local live music fans but is considered one of the nicest places in town to play from the performer's perspective.
"One thing I hear a lot is that the bands like the way they sound here," says Turner. "I don't know what it is, but they're generally happy with the way they sound. The intimacy of the club seems to play into it."
Intimate? Definitely. The "stage" at Mootsy's is nothing more than about a 10-square-foot spot on the floor near the pool table, just enough room for a modest-sized band to set up and play without elbowing each other in the face. It's nothing fancy, but when the music starts flowing, the crowd presses up close. Real close. And the boundaries between performer and audience all but vanish.
"We've been having live music for a couple years now, and I still can't believe I'm doing it. I never really planned on that being something that we could do here. But people really seem to have a good time."
Although the live music thing has really taken off lately, Turner says he likes to keep a couple of weeknights open so that people can just come down and hang out -- talk, drink, whatever -- in relative quiet.
"But it's getting hard to do," he says, "because there's just so many bands out there looking for a place to play."
2nd: Big Dipper