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DRINK(s): Blues bars

Keep your head up at Dawson's and the Stonegate

DAWSON'S: Just because it's full of blues musicians doesn't mean it's sad. Photography by Patrick Snapp

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Dawson's Bar and Grill is a no-bullshit bar, meaning leave your attitude and drama at the door (or better yet, don't go if you've got either in tow). Belly up next to a blue-collar crowd sucking down $3.25 well drinks with affection. Any person with sense would love that price.

It's a rare professional musician in the South Sound packing a wallet full of green, especially these days, so inexpensive drinks and simple bar food spread smiles and nods. More often than not, the person next to you at Dawson's is in a band or two and plays some stuff on the bluesy side.

Twice weekly blues jams at Dawson's draw out the talented and the tentative. Dawson's jam hosts, Billy Shew on Thursdays and Tim Hall on Sundays, accommodate and encourage anyone who wants to play, and there are always special guests. Musician and conguero Gary Schelhammer shares, "People roll back and forth between the two joints" referring to Stonegate where another blues jam takes place. "You meet people on the sidewalk outside and then there they are on stage. It's very harmonious."

Billy Stoops of Junkyard Jane fame hosts the Stonegate's Thursday jam, opening it up to funkier styles of music than the straightforward blues you'll find at Dawson's.

[Dawson's Bar and Grill, 5443 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma, 253.476.1421; Stonegate Pizza, 5421 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma, 253.473.2255]

More blues at: Summit Pub, Jerry Miller Tuesday Jam, 9502 Canyon Road, Puyallup, 253.536.1588; The Spar, Sunday nights, 2121 N. 30th St., Tacoma, 253.272.2122; The Swiss, Blues Night Monday, 1904 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma, 253.572.2821

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