Gypsy Sally's, a two-week-old bar and live music venue in Georgetown, says it's trying to resurrect the spirit of the Bayou, the legendary nightclub once located three blocks east on K Street NW. Karen Ensor, who owns the 300-capacity club with her husband David, says the focus will be more on Americana acts – bluegrass, country, folk and blues. A look at the calendar includes a solo show by BR549 frontman Chuck Mead (Oct. 2), reigning International Bluegrass Music Association entertainers of the year the Gibson Brothers (Oct. 12), the Hackensaw Boys (Oct. 18), and '70s psychedelic country band New Riders of the Purple Sage (Oct. 19).
The venue is on the second floor of the building that houses the French restaurant/nightclub/event space Malmaison, but the view from outside belies how large the space is. It's a high-ceilinged room with two bars and a large dance floor in front of the stage. Multiple tiers facing the band offer tables for dining as well as regular seating. Whether you sit at the bar that runs down the side of the room or the top row of seats against the back wall, the sight lines are clear and unobstructed. "We looked for a long time to find a building with no support columns [in the middle of the room]," Ensor says, and anyone who's been stuck behind a pillar at the Hamilton, for example, knows what a pain that can be.
Sound is crisp and clear, too, thanks to a top-of-the-line audio system, which Ensor says was set up by the engineer behind the Rams Head's system.
While the concert hall is the main attraction, it's not the only draw: A second room, which has its own entrance, bar and audio system, has been dubbed the Vinyl Lounge. Ensor says it doesn't have a cover charge, which is appropriate given the '60s theme. ("We're old hippies," Ensor says of herself and her husband.) You don't say: A full-sized VW bus with the engine removed is parked near the front doors, with an American flag flying from its roof. Doors and Who records are under lacquer on the bar top, Jimi Hendrix and Grateful Dead posters hang on the wall, and the all-vinyl DJ setup plays records by the Beatles and the Band. I'm surprised there aren't lava lamps somewhere. Ensor says the bar is targeted more at a younger crowd than the concert hall; there have already been lines to get in on weekends.
-- Fritz Hahn (Sept. 27, 2013)