by Clint Burgess

I have to say that the thought of going to a bar to check out a cover band was about a hundred miles past my idea of a good time. That being said, my objectivity and I struck out for the Rock Inn on Saturday night to get the lowdown on this Spokane Valley hangout.

I followed one of those giant spotlights to a jam-packed parking lot that spilled well out onto the surrounding streets. After paying the Rock's (so named for its stony exterior) manageable cover of only three bucks, I discovered a cavernous club with more than accommodating seating. However, much like the proverbial third wheel, I felt severely out of place.

It was surprising how off the hook the Rock Inn was. I mean, I would never hang at a place like this, but plenty of people there thought it was pretty happening. The patrons could not be pegged -- the young and the middle-aged alike seemed to be enjoying the booze, the band, the grub and the generally non-threatening environment. I opted for a drink and found very helpful and friendly service, which was greatly enhanced by the rotating, multicolored lights behind the bar. As I checked out the rest of the joint, I discovered a good-sized dance floor, a pool area in back (complete with various coin-operated games), a clean restroom and, the crown jewel of the place, a full-on lounge. Obviously designed for entertaining the ladies, it was trimmed with over-stuffed leather couches, a fireplace and all of the ambience a man on the prowl could ask for.

After all the perusing, some hobnobbing and a liaison with a photo booth, I settled in for the long haul with Kidd Sister. As I sipped and listened, I was pleasantly surprised by the band's formidable chops. Honestly, I had expected big hair and -- well, you get the picture. Instead I got only slightly large hair and a collection of solid musicians. They nailed songs by Norah Jones, Sheryl Crow and Santana among others. And no evening with a cover band would be complete without Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me," would it? The stage lighting was excellent, and the sound man was on (nothing is more distracting than bad sound). Kidd Sister scored big with me.

Before I bailed, I noticed a young couple who also seemed a bit out of place. So I asked them what brought them to a place like the Rock Inn. "I really like it here," Nick Kuhn told me. "People are really nice, and when I go to find a seat, there's always one." Farah Elloy echoed his sentiments, adding, "The band is really good."

Hey, who am I to argue? If plenty of seating, a great bar, a variety of people and, yes, Kidd Sister are your thing, the Rock Inn might just be your kind of place.

Publication date: 03/20/03

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