When thinking of Huntsville, there are a few aspects that automatically come to mind. Some people think about the random hills or the 25-cent drafts at the Fox, but now they will have a chance to think of musical venues as another one of those important constants. Lizards Bar has typical bar features like beer, a jukebox and pool tables. In the near future, it will also provide two nights of the sensational music talent that Huntsville has to offer each week. Due to the work of Colin de Los Santos and Brad Rice, two men that share a common dream, Huntsville will be made into a venue for the arts. De Los Santos is in charge of the Open-Mike night on Tuesdays, and Brad Rice is in charge of Friday Night Live.
Friday Night Live
Friday Night Live is not one for the nervous and not a time to freeze up on stage. It is for the veterans. Friday nights are held on the first floor for the acts that have created a name and following for themselves. Once the dim lights and calm setting change, acts have no choice but to perform.
Brad Rice is the man who is starting off the Friday festivities. Although Rice admits to have a “rudimentary understanding” of music, he cannot deny his passion for live music. He wants to make Friday nights at Lizards a showcase for local talents with the hopes that Huntsville will become a music scene, and Lizards will be seen as an actual venue.
“I want to build on the 12 to 13 bands that I already have signed up by adding musicians that might come to town to play,” said Rice. “I want the little guys who are trying to get their sound heard.”
In addition, Rice has a passion for promoting music and believes that Huntsville is a breeding ground for musicians who will make it big.
“Huntsville has a plethora of talent,” said Rice. “There are so many people here that should be on the radio.”
Rice spoke highly of acts such as The Adam Rodger’s Group who started his local celebrity by playing at Lizards. Rodgers began playing open mike nights as a freshman in 2004 and since then has grown as a performer and musician.
“It’s helped me to build my confidence and become a better playing in front of people,” said Rodgers.
Another act that Rice spoke highly of is the 19th & a St. Band.
“By next year if they’re not playing every bar in Huntsville then the bars don’t know what’s going on,” said Rice.
Open Mike Night is held every Tuesday on the second floor. Open Mike Night is a music scene for the laid back crowd. The room is not very large and with the help of the dim lights of dusk creates an intimate atmosphere. Musicians that are just starting out or ones are very lyrically driven start off here. The crowds come to listen and hear what the young talent has to say.
In August of 2003 de Los Santos and Zach Arrington had the idea to bring live music to Huntsville. It began with Tuesday’s at Kaldi’s where they started Open Mike Night to give local musicians the opportunity to spread their talents. The popularity started to grow when people would hear the live music coming from the back of the coffee shop.
According to de Los Santos, Huntsville is a breeding ground for musical talent that’s just waiting to be heard.
“Huntsville is so underappreciated with the amount of talent that it has in this town,” de Los Santos said. “I just wanted to create the opportunity to show the talent of this town.”
De Los Santos, in addition to running open mike nights, is also a well-known performer to the Huntsville music scene and says that the venue has even helped him in his career.
“I never advertised for open mike with flyers. Its all been spread by grassroots word of mouth with musicians,” de Los Santos said. “Through open mike I’ve made a lot of friends and met musicians to work with.”
Open Mike offers a wide range of talent from poetry reading to freestyles, and generally gets great feedback from constructive criticism to the people who react very positively.
The variety of Tuesday night is one of the aspects that keeps Nick Mendez, a regular at the event, coming back for more. Mendez attends every week and is going on his second semester as an avid follower.
“It used to be a small social gathering of an inner circle of people, but now its almost like a cult following,” Mendez said. “I love it because it’s (a combination of) so many different styles. We got the talent to make it big because there’s a little bit of something for everyone.”
For these new music events, the whole idea is that any and all musicians are welcomed to come.