by Clint Burgess

When cruising the downtown scene, not many haunts can be considered an "old reliable." Fortunately, the Blue Spark can be counted as such. I've yet to have a bad night there; I'd be hard pressed to think of anyone who has. A great corner location, fantastic barkeeps and a diverse crowd make for a good time at the Spark.

The house was already packed and the tunes jamming when I got there at 10. Navigating the place can be a bit tricky at times, but there's usually a place to sit, and some changes in the layout seem to be helping. The lower end of the place features a smaller satellite bar that keeps things hopping, and it's close to the bathroom. (What more could you ask for?) The full bar is featured on the other side of a dividing wall. This area plays host to live music, plentiful alcohol and a sufficiently stocked jukebox. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the Blue Spark is the fine collection of music posters that adorn this happenin' hangout. You know you've got it right with the Pogues on your wall.

Other notable features include the "Bucket o' Pabst" and a delectable menu to satisfy that late-night craving. Unfortunately, there's no deep fat fryer but veggie spaghetti or a deli sandwich will suffice nicely. After I gave the menu a once-over, I turned my attention to Bradbury Press, the entertainment for the evening. Their acoustic-rock jams immediately screamed Dave Matthews Band, but I gave them a chance anyway. This five-piece from Seattle really had themselves together and entertained the mostly college-type crowd.

I caught up with singer/guitarist Darren Golden between sets. He said the band has been together for about three years and hopes to do a full-blown tour next spring. They've played the Showbox in Seattle and will be on the Bumbershoot bill this Labor Day. This is their first trip to Spokane and judging from the turnout, won't be their last. "I love it here -- this is a great place to play," Golden said. He likened the group's sound to Dave Matthews and some early Counting Crows. I can see why this band has had the moderate success it has with the popularity of hook-heavy acoustic-soul-rock. Bradbury Press does get mad props for not trying to mask what they do under some lame cover and they pimped me a CD, so they're all right in my book.

The shining moment of their set came with a groove-infused cover of "Sweet Home Alabama" that featured lead guitarist Dave Brewer pickin' the licks on his ultra-cool '70s deluxe Fender Telecaster. The music came off well, but the live set up at the Blue Spark could use a little help. However, it's just right for the eclectic open mike that happens every Monday -- definitely a must see. If that isn't enough to get you out there, weekends feature a dog-and-sausage guy on the sidewalk outside for that sensual tube-steak feast.

Publication date: 08/21/03

Resale Trail @ Spokane

Through Dec. 3
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