For the foreseeable future, I'll be a guest of Lara Jones on her KRCL Radioactive program, nightly at 6:00 p.m. We've done two shows so far. The premise is for me to have a short conversation with Lara and a guest—ostensibly someone noble in our community—and then give a shout out toast. The segment is called Quarantine Cocktails and features persons who are doing good things in this crisis. Plus me and a mixologist.
On Monday, our good deed doer and mixologist was Steve Conlin of Ogden's Own Distillery, maker of the Five Wives Vodka line, Porter's Rye, Madame Paterini Gin and of the herbal spirit, Underground. While I sipped an Underground, becoming slightly buzzed (during the noon taping!), Steve mixed up a nice cocktail using Porter's Rye, a tablespoon of maple syrup, and some cacao bitters from Caputo's Market and Deli. It's called a Maple Old Fashioned. He was in Ogden. I was in SLC. I kept sipping my glass of Underground.
For the unwashed, Underground is sometimes regarded as, "you know, it's like Jaegermeister." I disagree. I can't sip Jaeger. Underground is smooth and, by my third sip I was thinking, 'screw Jaegermeister—even with Red Bull, even with vodka. I'm gonna have another glass of this stuff.' So I did. Let's just say, that in the midst of our self-imposed distancing from each other, it hit the spot. I'm now officially a person who drinks alone and on the job. Have me arrested.
We talked about the sudden demise of the building that once housed the famous Zephyr club. The Zephyr had a run of about 20 years until it shut down (for no good reason that Zephyr fans could determine) in 2003. During that span, anyone who was anyone on the musical touring circuit played there.
Everyone who ever saw a show there lists a favorite band or experience. Mine: Los Lobos, EmmyLou Harris, Joe Ely, Gatemouth Brown, Koko Taylor, David Lindley, locals like the Gamma Rays, the Jack Mormons, Zion Tribe, Disco Drippers, Saliva Sisters and Atomic Deluxe plus the bands that members of our staff—JR Ruppel, Bill Frost, Lia Pretorius, Steven Penrod, Mary Tebbs and others played in. For one of our employees, Doug Kruithof, who has been to at least 10,000 shows and concerts (no lie), losing the Zephyr was especially heartbreaking. He's all music all the time.
For a generation, the Zephyr remains synonymous with what many consider the halcyon days of live music in downtown Salt Lake City, an era that included music specific venues like the Dead Goat Saloon, Spanky's, the Bar & Grill, Club DV8, the Word, Speedway Café, Holy Cow (now Urban Lounge), Burt's Tiki Lounge, and the eponymous Kilby Court. Live music was easy to find and enjoy in those years.
Most of those old clubs are not only long gone, but the buildings that housed them have bit the dust, too. Somehow the Zephyr building (that included their neighbor Seigfried's Deli) sat forlorn and rotting on one of Salt Lake City's most visible corners, an eyesore for all to see and for all to wonder about. Indeed, for years this newspaper took a weekly photo of the Zephyr building and posted it under the name Dead Zephyr. That was a Bill Frost project and he likely took hundreds of photos of the Zephyr over that time. It's safe to say the Zephyr didn't officially die until Bill quit taking and posting the photos. Then last week, out of nowhere, some machinery showed up and the Zephyr went down for good in just minutes, nearly 17 years after closing their doors.
That action sparked a flurry of commentary all over Salt Lake City and on the Memories at the Zephyr Facebook page. We all lost a good friend when we lost the Zephyr, so during Lara's show, we tipped one to Otto, Sam, and Charlie—the forever public faces of the Zephyr club. I also sent a private toast to the late Ramon Cardenas of Red Iguana fame and a bevy of other great Zephyr buddies.
That was yesterday. We all have lots of thoughts about yesterday. Today our Quarantine Cocktails toast was sent out to the brave nurses who are working unselfishly through the Covid-19 pandemic. For so many of us, it's been a real trial to find something positive to dwell on—or to toast—since early March when this was set upon us. Nearly all of our conversations have been morose or gloomy. They've been scary and unpredictable. Today the toast was for the nurses.
Our mixologist was Ellie Lewis, the Marking and Events Director at Proper Brewing Co. While I sat on my end of the Zoom conference drinking a Proper Hopothetical IPA, (Lara was drinking a Mexican Coke), Ellie composed a drink called the Goserita—comprised of a nice shot of tequila from New World Distillery, with a heavy fill of Proper's Lei Effect beer. Looks great and when this ends I'm gonna go down and have a couple. With a burger or two.
And that's the point of Lara's show. We need to look ahead to whatever it is that looks bright right now. We need to digest with experts what is happening now so we know we are not alone. Tune into KRCL tonight at 6:00 p.m. and every night. Have a toast with us. We can do two things: We can support our locals, we can chuckle, we can have a drink, we can dream, we can anticipate, we can find new friends, we can learn, we can be unafraid. We can be well.
Wait. That's more than two things. Good. There's lots to look forward to.