Head west on Highway 54 out of Chapel Hill, NC and you'll find The Kraken. It is a bit off the beaten path for Chapel Hill hipsters drawing an older than college age crowd and the dogs, the jars of pink pickled eggs and floating sausages suggest that this is a true dive bar (and yes, that's a compliment).
It looks like a good place to have a drink but it is much more than that when the bands are playing. If you can find a dive bar that features better music for a few dollars in the tip bucket please let me know.
In just the last month Dexter Romweber (Flat Duo Jets), John Howie Jr. (Two Dollar Pistols and John Howie and the Rosewood Bluff), Michael Rank (Snatches of Pink and Stag) and Katharine Whalen (Squirrel Nut Zippers) have all played the small stage in this intimate setting!
John Howie Jr. and Billie Feather, in an abbreviated version of John Howie Jr. and the Sweethearts, (John Howie Jr. and his Sweetheart?) opened for Michael Rank and Stag on a recent Friday night. John and Billie played a tight set of their original tunes and covered a few country classics including Buck Owen's "Here Comes Trouble" and Charlie Pride's "Kiss An Angel Good Morning" before John moved to his drum set and Billie and her stand up bass made room for Michael Rank, Marc E. Smith,Omar Ruiz Lopez and Ron Bartholomew to join them on stage.
Michael Rank and Stag rocked, twanged and fiddled through most of KIN and several unreleased tracks from their upcoming disc. We sat on a vinyl sofa drinking cold beers listening to some great live music played by musicians that should be playing for more than tips to much larger audiences (not that I'm complaining about a house concert without the cleanup)! And if the names of these artists don't ring a bell and they should, I'm sure the musicians they've opened for over the years will: George Jones (Howie), Jack White (Romweber), Neil Young (Whalen) and Iggy Pop and The Ramones (Rank). So if you're in the area, check the Kraken's schedule and head over for some drinks and tunes. And if you're feeling really brave treat yourself to one of those pink pickled eggs. If you're not, that's okay, you can toss that extra dollar into the tip bucket for the band.
Video courtesy of Trickle Down Productions.