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rediscovering downtown
Story By Mike Overall, Photo by Jason Masters

The astonishing transformation of the Downtown Historic District is remarkable in many ways, not the least of which is that it has become the music and entertainment epicenter of this burgeoning city and area.

Currently as never before in its long history, the downtown sector comes alive at night, with the sounds of music wafting from venues that have given Jonesboro and area musicians/entertainers a new lease on their careers as performers.

Time was when downtown was quiet as the proverbial mouse at night. As one wag noted, “They used to fold up the sidewalks down here after dark. Musically speaking, there was nothing happening in an area that had tremendous potential as an entertainment area for persons of all ages to enjoy and have fun in.”

Now, almost every night of the week, music and the sounds of audiences enjoying live performances have become the rule rather than the exception.

Currently, three establishments feature live music and entertainment, ranging from intermittent engagements to live performances from three to five nights a week. And given the growth, visionary leadership and entrepreneurial spirit that pervade the historic district, more venues may spring up in the not too distant future.

Godsey’s Grill at 226 South Main, with its varied menu of tasty selections, is one of the more popular gathering places in the district. The restaurant is almost always abuzz with customers just simply having a good time and enjoying a respite from the routine. And on certain special occasions, musicians will add to the celebratory ambiance of the popular bistro.

At Piero’s Restaurant & Club, 320 South Main, where fine cuisine is a longtime Jonesboro tradition, Piero and Sara Trimarchi and sons take their food and their entertainment seriously. In the upstairs section of the venue – known popularly as “The Spot” – the proprietors have provided a stage for performers, a full refreshment bar, ample seating, and, on balmy springtime and summer evenings, an open-air balcony where patrons may sit and watch the goings-on along the busy street.

Piero’s features music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, beginning at 7 and sometimes lasting until midnight. Guitarist/vocalist Kerry Lee holds down the Thursday night spot, while veteran Jonesboro musician Scott Snellgrove (sometimes with the assistance of some friends) is there on Friday. Saturday night belongs to Matt King, a popular guitarist and vocalist.

And, yes, if Piero’s customers feel like dancing to the music, that’s fine with the owners.

For sheer volume (both aural and quantity) and variety of entertainment, the Brickhouse Grill, located at the bottom of the main drag at 218, is the granddaddy of Jonesboro’s music scene. Established in 2007 by Dan Johnson, the capacious hotspot features New Orleans-style and other victuals. And it rocks, often until the wee hours, five nights a week.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler, or “Let the Good Times Roll!” is par for the course at the Brickhouse. The establishment has a state-of-the-art projection scene, a roomy presentation stage, six large high-definition flat screens, two music stages, outstanding acoustics and an outdoor balcony overlooking The District.

Some of the hottest bands in Jonesboro and the Mid-South have played the venue, including Lord T. and Eloise, rappers from Memphis; Tony Spinner, guitar virtuoso; blues and party bands; the popular Jonesboro group Plain Meanness; Starroy, a group whose fans are legion; and groups representing virtually every genre in the pop music world.

Other groups that have performed in downtown venues include the Rob Alley Trio, Jazz Alliance and the talented instrumentalist/vocalist Grant Garland.
“The District,” it’s alive, well and rocking.