by Clint Burgess

When I think of a really great place to check out some blues, Coeur d'Alene doesn't leap to mind. But several blocks north of Sherman on Fourth Street, Capone's cooks up plenty of the blues.

This pub has become an Inland Northwest hotspot for regional and national blues acts. After my experience with John Nemeth and The Jacks on Saturday, it's easy to understand why.

I arrived at the club ready to get the blues, though I was a bit taken back by being slapped with a $7 cover charge to see a single band. Still, I found a table with a good view without any trouble. The place was buzzing with the typical middle-aged scene that usually accompanies a blues act, but there were also smatterings of under-thirties in attendance. I was quickly greeted by a server and set up with a beverage. The long beer list at this place would give any drinking establishment a run for their money (I stopped counting after 40). They serve everything from the lightest lights to the darkest darks, and offer a hefty selection of microbrews.

Once I settled in, I began to notice the fantastic d & eacute;cor of the place. There was definitely a sports bar theme going on here, but it was done tastefully enough. My table, for example, was covered with old tickets from sporting events from all over the country -- a motif throughout the place. Over the bar hung a slew of antique baseball gloves, ice skates and boxing gloves. One wall was covered entirely with old baseball posters, pictures of players and vintage signs.

As I got cozy with a giant basket of fries and the accompanying six-pack of sauces, the music started. The entertainment for the evening featured Boise blues man John Nemeth and his backing band, The Jacks. Right away I was impressed with Nemeth's seemingly-beyond-his-years set of pipes. He growled and crooned his way through original tunes and blues standards. The quartet smoked through the set, displaying skilled chops that come only from years of experience. The backbeat was right in the pocket and the guitar licks offered just enough blister to keep things on the upswing. Another highlight of the performance was Nemeth's adeptness on the harp. Watching a blues band can sometimes get old and tiring after a few songs. The addition of some down-home harmonica can really liven things up.

Capone's patrons were obviously enjoying the group. This was painfully evident as some decent (and not-so-decent) movers and shakers mixed it up on the dance floor. John Nemeth and the Jacks continued until into the early morning. Plenty of us went the distance right along with them.

Capone's Pub & amp; Grill, 751 N. Fourth St., Coeur d'Alene (208-667-4843)

Publication date: 05/22/03

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