For a while Chickie Wah Wah, the Canal Street music club, hosted shows only on a sporadic basis, but lately the place has established a more regular weekly schedule, which now includes lunch and old-timey country music.
Lunch is served from a side window by the bar Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the casual menu includes roast beef po-boys, Cuban sandwiches, a few salads, white bean and chicken chili and soups like corn chowder.
The club also seems to have gone smoke-free. All the ashtrays were moved outside, and on a recent visit all the cigarette smokers dutifully filed out to the sidewalk or the gated side yard to light up.
This leaves the air in the spacious and fairly spiffy club free to resound with the mandolin, upright bass and acoustic and Dobro guitar sounds coming from the stage on Wednesday nights, the weekly berth for Pat Flory and the Sweet Olive String Band. The three-piece band, plus occasional guests, runs through country and bluegrass songs.
It's an early show, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and there is no cover charge.
Free music*, a smoke-free venue and a schedule that accommodates an early weeknight bedtime is a rare combination I'm glad to see emerge on Canal Street.
-- Ian McNulty
*as at all free shows, tips for the band are encouraged