Dusty Bottle taps local music scene

By Andy Clark, Journal Opinion

BRADFORD—Opening a night-club in Bradford can be a challenging venture. The names of similar clubs in town are familiar to long-time area residents: Middle Earth, King Arthur’s and Rhapsody.

The Dusty Bottle, owned by brothers Horace and Larry Pike, opened on Barton Street late last month. This entertainment club is sticking to a formula: bring in local talent and disc jockeys, keep cover charges reasonable, offer a wide range of music, spice it up with karaoke and open mic on occasion, and serve food and beverages.

Hod Pike was in charge on the night of St. Patrick’s Day. He explained that his brother Larry, who is also a musician with the band Lion Heart, had a gig that night.

“Larry is in charge of the music side,” Hod said. “He books the bands and DJs. I’ve got this side covered. When the Benning Street Bar and Grill and Electra Nightclub in West Lebanon went under, Larry and I thought we would give this a try. We thought people would come from Lebanon, Hanover, and Hartford.”

“When Larry and I went to high school at Oxbow, there was a dance club in town,” Hod said. “We thought that founding a similar business here would fill a big need.”

The Dusty Bottle is a side project for both of them. Hod has a carpentry business, Larry works for Prince Telecom, a contractor for Charter Communications.

With an otherwise open floor segmented by one long wall in the basement of the building, that also houses Bradford Pizza and Swenson Insurance, the Pike brothers conceived their business with the hopes of appealing to dancers, singers, and music fans on one side and to aficionados of billiard tables, darts and broadcast sports on the other. The bar, on the billiards side, is fully equipped to satisfy adult tastes.

The Pike brothers also will be trying teen night at 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, beginning March 20. No alcohol will be served on Tuesdays, the cover charge is dropped to $5, and pool tables are free. The pikes want to make Tuesday nights similar to school dances. Positive responses to their plans on Facebook indicate that this idea is gaining traction.

Meanwhile, all Dusty Bottle patrons can also order food from the Bradford Pizza menu, above the club and fronting on Main Street, including burgers, fries, pizza, and chicken wings.

St. Patrick’s Day was a big night for the club. Headlining the night’s entertainment was The Shana Stack Band, a country band that also plays original music and southern and classic rock. The band’s members are all residents of New Hampshire. According to the band’s booking agent, Conrad Farnham, the group recently opened for Reba McEntire in Gilford, NH and has an album, “You Can’t Make Me Fall.”

Shana Stack is a Keene, NH native and the band is scheduled to return to The Dusty Bottle on May 19.

By 9 p.m. on March 17, the club was bustling with over 80 patrons, and the band was just warming up. Dancers of all ages were using the floor in front of the band. Both pool tables were in use, and the bar was busy with fans watching NCAA men's basketball tournament games and ordering drinks.

Pike shared some ideas about use of the nightclub.

"Oxbow's senior class representatives came in to talk about coming here after a traditional senior class party,” he said. “And we want to make the club available for weddings and parties.”

“As for bands, we’re set for any group. We have a drum set and the PA system and mics are already here. They just need to bring their own instruments.”

He also shared some frustrations about the business.

“This year has been tough to book bands. Most book up well ahead of time, and we just opened. It will get better though.”

Next on their schedule? Barre-based, Film at 11, playing March 23.

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