Celebrating 20 years of live, local music

WHEELING, W.Va. – When Dickie Pultz and Ray Carney opened a little neighborhood pub in North Wheeling, little did either know they’d begin a journey that would have a profound effect on the local music scene.

What started with a weekly Thursday night ‘Jam Night’ in 1993 has grown and has made Down on Main Street the place to go to catch live and local music in the Ohio Valley.

Starting at 3 p.m. this afternoon, Down on Main Street is hosting an all day music event, celebrating 20 years in business.

Thirteen different acts are slated to perform, starting with Robby Parsons at 3 p.m. and Uncle Eddie and Robin closing down the house at 9 p.m. If you have an appreciative ear for good local music, there is no place better to be today.

That original Thursday night jam session is still on the docket. It’s followed by live bands on Friday and Saturday nights.

Bands and musicians from far and wide come to kick back, relax and jam out with their counterparts on Thursdays. Some musicians will play shows at other locations and trek back to Wheeling to keep the good music flowing throughout the night.

“A lot of musicians hang out here before and after,” Pultz said, now the sole owner of Down on Main Street. “You never know who will come in for a jam night. I sometimes sit back and wonder where they are all coming from. There are some amazing, good bunch of musicians that come in here.”

There’s a rotating crowd that descends on the 422 N. Main St. location, which varies upon which act is taking the stage. But if there’s music playing, the joint is packed.

The sense of camaraderie among the musicians only adds to the scene. There are no egos here. Members from one band will rock out with those from another.

While one band is taking the main stage, it’s common for someone to strap on their guitar for an outdoor, acoustic set at Down on Main Street’s beer garden out back while waiting to take the main floor.

“Most of the musicians that come here to play do so because they enjoy playing,” Pultz said. “They are for them the love of the music. That’s why we started (music) on Saturdays. There were so many people trying to come in and play … we rotate at least 21 different acts.”

Pultz’s Friday and Saturday shows are booked clear through December.

Yes, at Down on Main Street, it’s all about the music.

Pultz doesn’t have an extensive food menu. Customers rave about the pizza served and Pultz does serve the typical bar snacks like chips and pretzels but Down on Main Street doesn’t have a full-service kitchen.

The bar lineup is your general assortment of domestic beers and spirits with a light lineup of imported beers but you’re not going to confuse this place with a microbrewery.

No, it’s the music that keeps customers, and the musicians, coming back to Down on Main Street in droves. And there’s never a cover to get in the door.

Today’s lineup is one of multiple all-day music events that Pultz holds each year. The first started as a benefit of sorts to help Pultz cover his business taxes and license fees.

But the response was overwhelming, necessitating the need for more.

“The first couple of years we did it, we had so many people still wanting to play at the end of the night, we figured why not do one every couple of months,” Pultz said.

Pultz has also toyed with the idea of having an acoustic night.

Today’s lineup include: Robby Parsons (3 p.m.); Richard Beekman/Laura Cramblet (3:30 p.m.); Travis Hoard (4 p.m.); Justin Yoho (4:30 p.m.); Donnie DeCena (5 p.m.); John Kerr (5:30 p.m.); Nate Smith (6 p.m.); Randy Keener (6:30 p.m.); Will Taylor (7 p.m.); The Primatives (7:30 p.m.); Billy Litman (8 p.m.); Joey Colangelo/Dean Whittle (8:30 p.m.) and Uncle Eddie & Robin (9 p.m.).

Hughes may be reached at mhughes@timesleaderonline.com