A Visit to the B-Side Memphis. 

The winds of change have blown through the Memphis bar and restaurant scene over the past couple of years. Some old favorites have closed or, more appropriately in the case of the Buccaneer, been burned and razed. From the ashes rises B-Side Memphis, opening in the seemingly unlikely location of Minglewood Hall. Minglewood has been home to a random hodge-podge of businesses over the years, but not many of them have been a beacon shining bright to the crowd that now finds its way to B-Side. It hasn't been for lack of trying on Minglewood's behalf: We are just naturally skeptical of ample parking and clean toilets. These amenities are outside of our comprehension when coupled with our treasured local acts.

"We're doing music every night," general manager Brad Boswell says. "The focus is on Memphis music." In a market that hasn't always been kind to out-of-town bands, this makes sense. Boswell books B-Side himself and stacks each bill with those treasured local acts. He explains that B-Side isn't just a restaurant or a bar, but a place to go check out music. The focus on Memphis doesn't end with the tunes, either. The bar serves Pancho's cheese dip, hummus, and feta dip from nearby Casablanca, kolaches from Howard's Donuts, and meat pies made by local musician, tattoo artist, and apparent meat pie connoisseur Mark Svetz. Boswell and his brother, Ben, have a full menu planned for the spring, but honestly, can it get any better? There is no stopping you, dear patron, from dipping your locally sourced meat pie in the Pancho's.

click to enlarge Brad Boswell at B-Side - PHOTOGRAPHS BY JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Photographs by Justin Fox Burks
  • Brad Boswell at B-Side

As if B-Side's focus on Memphis music and beloved local dips wasn't enough, Boswell also corralled some familiar talent. His staff is full of former employees of both Old Zinnie's and the Buccaneer, so pounding beers at B-Side will feel, for many of us, just like home. B-Side has a happy hour starting when they open at 3 p.m. each day and running through 8 p.m. It features $1 off of everything, excluding the already-affordable High Life pony bottles. On Saturdays and Sundays, they open at 6 p.m. Each night of the week, they're open until 3 a.m., allowing for maximum hell-raising and music-listening. B-Side itself isn't the cramped, grubby bar that we've all embraced in the past. Its ceilings are high, its bar long, its floors hardwood. It's a space that finally affords us the square footage to rock without fear of the walls caving in or the floor giving way.

Boswell wasn't kidding about the whole "it's a place to see music" thing. While there are plenty of tables and booths, there is way more emphasis on space to stand, inviting us to actually pay attention to what's on the stage. On the night that I went, the crowd stood quietly, enraptured by the peaceful sitar-playing of Naan Violence, the first of a four-band, all-Memphis bill. Each Monday, Devil Train takes the stage, yet another tradition borrowed from bars long gone. And yeah, it's an actual stage! A dedicated space that doesn't require moving tables or stacking chairs!

Is this where we are now, Memphis? Have we finally traded in and traded up? Have we finally gotten what we've long deserved? This is a bar that has finally answered to all of us who have grown up. We've long stood in puddles of bodily fluids in the dive bars of Memphis, smoked in spaces without fans or ventilation, suffered a from-behind soaking from a domestic beer. We've gabbed loudly through sets, stumbled into restrooms with no toilet paper, and hugged walls stained with years of sweat and smoke. B-Side has taken all of us in, shown us the light, and graced us with its actual adult bar presence. We loved our falling-apart-at-the-seams dives, and we still love the ones that remain. B-Side Memphis, however, is the beautiful new bar that has all the feel (and all of the people) of the good old days with less of the trash and germs. We've arrived, guys, and there are plenty of meat pies and parking spaces here.

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