An old bar on Grand Rapids' West Side has been updated to look ... retro.
The new Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill is a throwback to the ‘40s and ‘50s with live rockabilly music, Southern cooking and a retro look. Opened last weekend, the Tip Top is the brainchild of Ted Smith, general manager of the Orbit Room, and Frank Lehnen, who owns Rocky's Bar & Grill in the North Monroe corridor, as well as Monarch's Club and Mercury Bar on GR's west side.
The club's live shows will cover the gamut of Americana music, Smith says, including folk, blues, rock, country, rockabilly, bluegrass and some music that approaches punk. Smith and local promoter Ryan "Devilyn" Carver will book the majority of the music at the club. Smith has been booking national and international rockabilly music since 1993, including an Orbit Room show last year by legendary singer-guitarist Wanda Jackson, the Queen of Rockabilly.
Carver, who has only been promoting shows for a couple years, will book bands that play punkgrass, psychobilly, speedgrass and other "weird mixed genres that fit somewhere between punk and country," she says.
But don't look for metal, pop, rap or electronic music.
"We won't ever stray too far from the core Americana music," Smith says. "It's not like you're going to hear country one night and the next night it's hip hop. If someone comes in one night and likes one band, chances are they're going to like the band the next night, too."
Smith and Carver both expect to book a mix of up-and-coming acts as well as national and international acts. They've met that goal in July with shows by Los Angeles-based Kim Lenz & the Jaguars on July 7 and legendary instrumental rockers Los Straitjackets on July 28. Also on the bill in July: Seattle-based Americana act Zoe Muth & the Lost High Rollers on July 6.
In addition to music and drinks, the Tip Top will have a varied menu with a Southern flair, including barbecue and New Orleans-style dishes, plus a range of vegetarian and gluten-free offerings.
July 6: Zoe Muth & the Lost High Rollers
July 7: Kim Lenz & the Jaguars
July 14: The Ten Foot Pole Cats & Scissorman
July 18: Hellbound Glory & The Cheat'n Hearts
July 22: Tom Vandenavond
July 23: Twistin' Tarantulas
July 28: Los StraightJackets
Aug. 25: Bob Wayne & the Outlaw Carnies
Sept. 8: Wayne Hancock
Sept. 22: Eilen Jewell
Sept. 29: Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy