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Dec 11, 2013 09:00 AM WV Sound

Keep a beat in the Mountain State.

Great Small Music Venues*

Dec 11, 2013 - 09:00 AM
Great Small Music Venues*

Photographed by Elizabeth Roth

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Small music venues across the state have knit themselves deep into the fabric of their towns. Check out a handful of our favorites.   

Bluefield, The Ramsey School

A restaurant offering Italian food by day and a karaoke bar and music venue by night, The Ramsey School is a creative place with great food, drinks, and lots of live local music.
Established in 2009, this relatively new venue gives music-lovers in the region a place to blow off steam. In a short time The Ramsey School has made a name for itself as the premier venue for local bands. The venue gets its name honest, too, as the former school graduated hundreds of students. Built in 1926, the old school made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the “Most Multi-Leveled Entrances.” The school closed in 1987. Anthony Szabo later bought the building and the music scene hasn’t been the same since. General Manager Jeremiah Sexton says the school hosts many great bands that play music you won’t have any trouble dancing to.

Charleston, The Empty Glass

In February 2013 The Avett Brothers made a return trip through Charleston, playing at the mammoth Charleston Civic Center. Between bouts of banjo plucking, the Grammy nominated band stopped and thanked an old haunt—The Empty Glass.

Jason Robinson, The Empty Glass booking agent, says the moment signifies why the tightly packed music venue is special. In its nearly 30-year lifespan, the Empty Glass has taken great pleasure in hosting talented musicians right before they go big. Everyone from the Drive-By Truckers and Larry Keel to Joss Stone have emptied a glass at this venue—a three-story house in Charleston’s East End. The club features live music every night, including Charleston’s longest-running open mic night on Mondays. It’s always a party on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at The Empty Glass with the cream of the crop in local talent and up-and-coming touring acts.

Huntington, V Club

“It’s really the main spot in Huntington,” says local musician Ian Thornton. He references the club, opened in 2006, fondly, tying it to his excitement for the growing local music community.
V Club Co-owner Patrick Guthrie says not many small venues have been able to hang on over the years. V Club’s longevity rests with the venue’s dedication to local acts. “We’re a little off the beaten path, which also helps,” Patrick says. “We’re not 4th Avenue. We’re not entirely dependent on Marshall students.”

Patrick and the staff invite all genres to play when booking bands, and they see a diverse mix of all ages and backgrounds in their crowds. Most regulars also appreciate the V’s open, inviting, and clean appearance. V Club now hosts two stages—one outside in a laid-back patio setting. Both utilize state-of-the-art sound equipment, an investment Patrick says was necessary to take the venue to its next step. The club has built itself up to accommodate not only local musicians, but also national acts.


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