by Clint Burgess

A new local music venue has sprung up in one of Spokane's forward-thinking epicenters -- Hillyard. Ray and Sam's has been open for only four weeks and has already managed to grab up a portion of the scene's business as well as to lure in nearly any local act.

It doesn't hurt that the owner is local club mogul Tony Twohouses, formerly of Ichabod's North and such fine establishments as the Slab Inn and the Happy Hour in Post Falls. Twohouses decided to open the place to fill the void left in the wake of Ichabod's demise and to host occasional all-ages events. "We definitely want to keep the all-ages scene going," he says. "And this is a good clean place." From my vantage point, that seemed to be right on.

As I entered the club Friday night, I was met by ominous bouncer Shawn Hoskins (complete with sleeve tattoos), who was assisted by -- a little girl? That's right, Shawn's daughter, Josie Hoskins, was handling door duties with pops for the evening. Things were pretty laid-back. "I haven't had to get rough with anybody so far," noted the elder Hoskins.

The club itself is pretty bare-bones right now; there are sporadic athletic posters on the walls and the ever-popular decorative keg hanging from the ceiling. The space is deep but narrow, with plenty of seating at the bar. I opted to kick back and check out Sarkastik Bastard. As I took in the heavy-hitting tunes, I was greeted promptly by a server. She set me up with an ice-cold one -- pink lemonade, that is. If you're looking for beer, it's not here yet; the liquor license is still pending. The band continued to bludgeon through its set and wrapped up with an especially eardrum-bruising tune.

I perused the rest of the club and discovered that they've got grub. If you're up before noon and want to catch some high tea with the fellas, Ray and Sam's offers a daily brunch. You can also go with a late-night appetizer (I recommend "Da Shiz" cheese sticks). Or you might be interested in the Tripp Burger, inspired by a local radio personality.

I was getting a little tipsy from the lemonades when Talksick began its set. I'm not quite sure how to categorize these guys. Perhaps their genre-warping cover of America's "Horse with No Name" will paint a better picture. It started out decent, with a faithful rendition of the verse. But then things went horribly wrong, somewhere between the hard-core, rap-metal chorus and the song's welcome ending.

Ray and Sam's is hosting a load of local bands in the next couple of weeks, supplying something for every musical taste. Once this club is fully functional, things will surely kick into high gear. In the meantime, Mom and Dad, don't hesitate to send the kids to Hillyard. Ray and Sam will take good care of them.

Publication date: 05/01/03

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