I am lucky to be surrounded by many musically talented people. I am also lucky that every week I can do just a little bit to let people know who’s playing where, doing my part to help encourage live local music. I think I understand the perspectives of bands playing at different venues. I thought it might be interesting to hit the road and see what some of the venues I list think about sponsoring live music.
This day’s adventure finds us traveling up Route 10 to Flying Hills, seeking out Divots Bar & Grill. Tucked neatly into the Flying Hills golf complex just beyond the golf carts and before the pool, Divots’ appearance is very misleading. What one would assume to be the entrance to a rather small space, opens into a nicely apportioned bar and good sized dining room. It doesn’t end there. Out the back doors is a deck that overlooks the pool, and a patio that can comfortably seat 30 to 50 people. In late Spring, Summer and early Fall, this is where the magic happens.
“Last year during the Fall and Winter we started having music on a Friday or Saturday night,” said Donald Frey, General Manager of Divots. “It depended on what night and what bands were available. We had them inside several times a month.”
When asked, “Why live music?” Frey continued, “Generally speaking, live bands have followings and with that, people coming out to hear their favorite band would find out what Divots is all about.”
This approach seemed to work, and the decision to expand the music program to every Friday night in the late Spring through early Fall (some nights with double bookings running from 5 to 10 p.m.) was a “no brainer.”
And as for what Divots is all about, Frey said, “In the past [when it was Bistro on the Green], it was known as fine dining, but we’ve changed that to family friendly, casual dining also using the deck outside during good weather for good times and a great experience.”
That, too, seems to have worked.
The night we chose to visit was a double bonus. There were two acts slated, and both were WTIM friends. Amy & Josh were playing when we arrived. I was aware of Josh Heller’s mad guitar skills from his work with Stephanie Grace’s band, but it became much more evident as he played in this duo. Amy Tomaszewski was spot on with her vocals and rhythm guitar work. It was a very powerful performance indeed. Their performance of Gov’t Mule’s “Soulshine” was exceptional.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what was going on around us during our visit. The Divots serving staff was crazy busy and loving every minute. I cannot count how many different servers stopped, asking if everything was alright and if they could get us anything. By the way, if you leave Divots hungry, it is your own fault!
Kim Voigtsberger Scheffy and Paul Javier, better known as Vuja De Acoustic, were up next and as always brought their “A” game AND a special guest. We’ve heard Vuja De on several occasions, and if given the opportunity, we will grab every chance we can to see them again. The raw power of Kim’s voice could shake a mountain or, in it’s message, reduce a grown man to tears. Couple that with Paul’s mad guitar skills (I know I say that a lot, but I don’t know how else to describe this guy’s awesome guitar playing abilities) and you have a great show. Paul and Kim have graciously taken on the role of mentors to their special guest. Seventeen-year-old Bryan Rojas wowed the crowd (and me) with some effortless blues and old time rock ‘n’ roll riffs. Take notice, Berks County. There is a new young gun in town, and he is being tutored by some of the best we have. Remember the name, Bryan Rojas.
Donald Frey sums up his philosophy on live music like this: “The best thing about live music is that people want to hear that. They don’t want to travel far. There’s so much talent here in Berks County, and anyone that doesn’t see that is really missing the boat. Anyone that says there isn’t anything to do in Berks County obviously isn’t looking very hard. It’s as simple as that.”
I concur.Our trip ended as Donald took to the stage singing the blues classic “I’m a Steam Roller” with Kim and Paul.
That’s it, hope you liked it. Next time, we’ve been invited to the Peanut Bar & Grill in Royersford to scope it out and take “Sanctuary” in some very cool ‘90s music.
Sidebar: Best Tip EVERThis is not a story of the miserable five percent of restaurant goers; it’s a quick note of thanks to the top one percent of the other pleasant 95 percent of restaurant goers. A server at Divots related the tale of her best tip ever, and I had to share:
“I was serving, and I was actually training as well,” she said. “It was my last day of training. I was serving down at the pool.” During the pool season, Divots extends their services to cover the pool.
The server continued: “We [she and a customer] started talking music, because I just started teaching myself how to play the guitar through YouTube and got my guitar out of a barn and she was super excited about it. She [the customer] told me she just lived right up the road and she would go get her guitar and play. She left and 20 minutes later, she was back and she was playing. It was great, I played it for a minute. Oh yeah, it was the end of my shift and we were giggling and playing. I was about to leave, and the customer’s stepson came over calling me back, saying his stepmother wanted to give me something. I went back and she walked up to me, with this guitar in it’s case, and just hands it to me. It’s an amazing Dean 12-string. I thought she was going to let me borrow it, but no! She just gave it to me! She opened a whole new realm of music to me. She’s just an amazing, amazing, woman, and I told her, I’m all about paying it forward, but I don’t know how I’m going to do this one.”
Well, maybe by sharing this story, you just have. The gratitude and enthusiasm in this young lady’s (who asked to remain anonymous) voice while relating this story IS the story. Music changes lives, and the gift of music is magic. Thank you.