Closing time for Flip Side Bar & Grill
04:57 PM, Aug 30, 2013
The bartender was in tears all night long and the beer taps ran dry. But the music went well into the next morning as the nine-year run of the Flip Side Bar & Grill open mic came to a raucous close Thursday night.
The East Main Street club’s final night was to be Friday.
All that’s left for the cozy neighborhood saloon is the For Sale sign to go up in the window.
“End of an era,” said Bruce Diamond, co-host of the open mic night for the last couple of years alongside Steve Piper. Similar sentiments were expressed throughout the evening.
“It was a good run,” said Jed Curran, who created the event, along with Jeff Riales in March of 2004.
Owner Beth Tannous has put the club up for sale. It’s been a bar since the turn of the last century, most recently as the Apex, then the Sterling Lounge and, for the last 12 years, as the Flip Side. So named for the primary decor: walls covered with vinyl album covers.
Throughout the night, dozens of musicians, guitars in hand, carefully wound their way through the packed bar to the stage. Some were the enthusiastic but marginally talented regulars, but most were the cream of the local singer-songwriter scene. Connie Deming provided backing vocals for a few songs then stepped up to the front for Bob Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate” and a stunning version of The Beatles’ “Across the Universe.” The Dady Brothers, John and Joe, were joined by John’s daughter Mara on The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”
“None of us would know how to do an open mic if it wasn’t for John and Joe,” said Curran, noting how the Dadys had run one for years before he and Riales started their own. “So many things happened here, the timing was perfect. The Dadys had just closed down their open mic and people were looking for somewhere to go.”
Doc Fischetto opened the night with a special song he’d written, “Ode to the Open Mic,” name-dropping regulars at the Flip Side and recalling “The memories and the melodies of those Flip Side nights.”
In the midst of the evening, Riales and Curran teamed up for a set that included a tribute Riales wrote about the place years ago: “That’s why I’m here most every night, down at the Flip Side bar.” As Riales recalled, when they’d first started the open mic, all three bartenders at the Flip Side were named Kristin.
“It’s meant everything to me,” said Kristin Joubert, the last of the Kristins. “I can’t even express how sad I am to see it go.”
“The neighborhood, it’s been a great place,” Tannous said. “All different ages, we never had any problems, any troubles here. Because anybody that comes in here, this is their place to come.
“I wish it could still be here.”
Where the regulars at the Flip Side’s open mic will go now was the big question of the night. Diamond and Piper are inclined to wait and see what the new owners might have in mind. “I’ve been getting calls every day,” Tannous said of prospective buyers. Or, Piper said, they might move the open mic to another willing club.
But there was still time for music, and many of the performers chose songs for the occasion. Brian Lindsay did The Rolling Stones’ “This Could Be the Last Time.” Suzi Willpower showed up late and dashed up to the stage, purse still in hand, to sing along with Harry Roberts on The Band’s “The Weight.” The last tune: Bobby Henrie wandered in at the end to join Piper, Diamond and drummer Joe Grillo on The Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love.”
And then it was last call at the Flip Side.