Ten years on tap

Beloved local dive celebrates a decade of music, camaraderie

Thursday, February 12, 2004


Scott McClurg / lawrence.com

Tap Room manager and bartender Jeremy Sidener seen here as a typical patron sees him.

For places where people go to forget, bars sure make a lot of memories.

Like the time Weezer drummer Pat Wilson came in belligerently drunk after a show at The Granada, creeped out the bar's female patrons and finally left at the prompting of his band mates. Or the time a drunken frat boy brought his bike in and went on bloody joy ride down the stairs and out the front door. Or maybe when a gutter punk peed on one of the bartenders and pulled out a cheap kitchen steak knife, only to be tackled by a patron.

These and many more memories are sure to be talked about this weekend as The Eighth Street Tap Room celebrates its 10th anniversary. The two-level bar -- nondescript from the outside but beloved by its inhabitants for its smoky, dimly-lit charm and cozy booth-seating -- will be host to two shows in honor of the occasion: folk rockers Fourth of July and Pink Nasty on Friday and the overdriven Hyperspherian on Saturday.

Besides selling more Beamish and Pilsner Urquell than any other bar in town, The Tap Room -- or "Tapeworm," as some the bar's patrons affectionately call it -- is known for attracting a colorful cast of regulars.

Past Event

The Tap Room's 10th Anniversary featuring Fourth of July / Pink Nasty

  • Friday, February 13, 2004, 10:30 p.m.
  • Eighth Street Tap Room, 801 N.H., Lawrence
  • 21+ / $2


"There might be somebody with red hair on one side, blue on the other, a biker, a suit-and-tie guy, but everybody's cool," said Vernon Brooks, a 36-year-old Union pipe fitter who has been shooting pool at the bar since it opened in 1994.

Initially known as a popular hangout for Latinos and international students (thanks in part to maiden manager Jon Jasmine, a Spanish major), the Tap Room began earning a reputation for putting on local music when manager Jeremy Sidener took over in 1997.

Sidener, who plays bass for Arthur Dodge and the Horsefeathers, and The Danny Pound Band, has helped make the establishment a regular haunt for local bands like The Mums, Santo Gold and Fourth of July as well as attracting touring acts like The Cherry Valence, All Night and Rockfour.

"I try and do shows that I think will be cool shows even if people don't come to them," Sidener said. "You can have a crowded show with not many people coming. You always have that vibe, like, there's people here that are watching this that are interested."

Though The Tap Room only has four to six live shows a month, the bar's extensive record collection ensures a constant and diverse flow of music. A glance at the record shelf reveals titles from the likes of The Impressions, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Television, Talking Heads, The Clash, The Minutemen and Roxy Music.

"People that hang out in here will bring in a stack of records when they come drink and just leave them here," Sidener said. "Any time you reach in there you're going to pull out something pretty hot."

The venue has also played host to a number of billiards teams, some of which have gone on to compete at the national championships in Las Vegas. A series of plaques hang on the wall opposite the pool table, commemorating the accomplishments of each year's team.

"They're one of the only things in here that gets dusted regularly," Sidener joked.

Butch Clark, a 57-year-old retired carpenter, doesn't spend as much time at the bar as he used to on account of his wife and 9-year-old daughter. He might catch an episode of "The Simpsons" there now and again, but his days of hanging out with the late-night crowd ended one fateful evening in Dec. 1998.

"(My wife) came and got me out of that bar one night and said, 'You've been in this bar too long,' and we've been together ever since," Clark said. "But only because of that do I probably get to go back to it."

  • Memories...
  • The William S. Burroughs story (as told by bartender John Davis): "Burroughs used to stop by when he used to walk around years ago ... I didn't know who he was - I thought he was some drunk Lawrence transient dude. I was total asshole to him. I came up to the bar to get a beer and there was this guy sitting there in this blue golf hat, this old man, and as I was ordering my beer he turned to me and he said, 'Do you like books?' and I was like, 'Yeah, I like books' and he's like, 'Well, I collect them' and I was like, 'Well, good for you dude.' ... Then as I walked off he started saying to me, 'I speak a lot of languages; I speak every kind of language,' He was, like, kind of ranting, and I just walked off like, 'Whatever, dude,' and then he left and then the bartender was like, 'That was William S. Burroughs.'
  • The Weezer story (as told by bartender John Davis): "They came in after they played The Granada and he (the drummer) was wasted. They were hanging out downstairs - I remember this so well - and he was just being an asshole ... he was creeping out chicks. So finally the bartender down there, I believe it was Brandon Burke, asked him to leave and then he got incredibly belligerent about it, didn't want to leave, was telling us who he was, you know, he's the drummer from Weezer, blah, blah, blah, until the rest of his band came over and helped us throw him out. Then they apologized repeatedly for him."
  • The Drunken Biker story (as told by patron Vernon Brooks): "We were just sitting in the bar and there was like four or five regulars and say three or four other people and these two drunk kids came in, frat boys or something, and it was closed downstairs so they kind of waddled around upstairs. Well everybody went back to their drink ... and it had been 20 minutes or so later, nobody had seen this cat go upstairs, and we're just sitting there, everything's nice and peaceful, and this dude comes flying down the steps on a bicycle, banzai, full-out straight towards the door, and all I could see was just a body flying through the (open) door and blood everywhere but he flipped the bike before he got down the stairs and rolled down to the bottom of the stairs and stood up and we politely asked him to leave."
  • These are the bands/people that are memorable. Sorry to those whom i've forgotten or could not verify having played here -- Jeremy
  • Mechanic For Captain
  • Ol Yeller
  • Santo Gold
  • Dare Diablo (NY)
  • I Am The World Trade Centre (NY)
  • Mecury Birds (NC)
  • Spot (TX)
  • Ghosty
  • Teriyakis
  • The Billions
  • Mad Awkward
  • Cherry Valence (NC)
  • Danny Pound Band
  • Hefners
  • The Belles
  • Fourth of July
  • The People (MO)
  • Everest
  • T.K. Webb (NY)
  • AllNight (NC)
  • Bible of the Devil (ILL)
  • Bennett Bros
  • Slick Rhodes(OK)
  • The Mumms
  • Ces Cru (MO)
  • The Anniversary
  • Hyperspherian
  • Approach
  • Nathan Browne Rock 'n Roll Cheerleader (TX)
  • Drag the River(CO)
  • Sun Barrow
  • Creature Comforts
  • Namelessnumberheadman(MO)
  • Be Non
  • The Hardaways
  • America Is Waiting (TX)
  • Filthy Jim
  • Deep Thinkers
  • JJ Fingaz(CA)
  • Planetarium
  • Drag The River (CO)
  • Scene Booster Sound System
  • Chris Tolle
  • Snuggles (NY)
  • Drakkar Sauna
  • Matt Rice
  • Hidden Persuaders (TX)
  • Piltdown Ensemble
  • Johnny Quest
  • Rebecca Gates (OR)
  • Saddlerash
  • Conner
  • String And Return
  • Kabochak (JAPAN)
  • Regraped (NC)
  • Cex (?)
  • Jon Harrison
  • Subrosas
  • Life On Earth
  • Rooster Blastoff
  • Free All Beats
  • Matt Suggs(CA)
  • Doris Henson
  • OK Jones
  • Elevator Division
  • What Gives
  • Chris Brokaw
  • Franklin Bruno
  • Floyd The Barber
  • Don Mumford
  • The Electricities
  • Lucid (MO)
  • Listener (GA)
  • Mr Manchild And Spoons (NY)
  • Ultimate Fakebook
  • Michael Zapruder(CA)
  • ID Of Archetype
  • DJ Cruz
  • Tanya Lorae (TX)
  • Patrick Park(CO)
  • That Guy Downstairs
  • The Action Is (TX)
  • Danny Commando
  • Sean McEnrie
  • Patrick Clendenin
  • Tiajuana Crimescene
  • Arthur Dodge & Mazz Mozier
  • Aphasia
  • Dan Kozak
  • Jumbos Kilcrane
  • Proudentall
  • Canyon(D.C.)
  • Higher Burning Fire