Green Frog Grand Opening: March 10th at The Green Frog
By Steven Riley
After ten months of silence, there was no ignoring the soulful drawl and the rousing carnal croak of the wakened Frog at the south end of North State Street on March 10. The Grand re-Opening of the Green Frog was an honest celebration of community and place. Owners James Hardesty and Nate Carlson have labored successfully to transform the cocoon of a husk they started with into an emergent monarch of State.
Hand built and finished, both the wood and concrete work are a recognizably rare example of a distinguishable effort to transform a space into a place. The hint of old growth cedar and pine, the smoky aroma of peanuts and barley beer, attuned by the warming feeling of the dusk-like atmosphere brought into being the hardy communal spirit of the original Green Frog.
Without over-animalizing a bar that goes by the name The Green Frog, it is humorous to imagine such a colossal creatural frog–like something out of a Godzilla film–having swallowed at least a hundred people.
Leading the evening’s celebration was Stephen Ray Leslie and Old Day Creek. Mr. Leslie’s sweet rhythmic demeanor matched by his and the band’s musical finesse lured the at first dismembered and separated organism of a crowd. As we were all already drawn by our loving devotion for a venue that we have all been waiting to experience revived; the acoustical stylings of this opening act was a tribute to a night we–well most of us for certain–would remember.
Following, A.P Dugas like solitary roaming folk performed beautiful and intimate music that felled the hearts of so many searching souls. I particularly remember one couple dancing. They skirted close around each other, intertwined and alive. They moved gracefully as lovers are close during a wedding ceremony. Dugas’ music reminded me of big sky and heavy hearts-full of gravity and groundedness. He filled the room with heart and following the Sumner Brothers did nothing to disappoint.
Without falling out of step, the Sumner Brothers marched in with a matching type of intensity. There was something humbly rogue about their performance. I imagined a band of outlaws who have, each member, a confession of sorts to share. Their performance was more a testimony of passion and thankfulness for the Green Frog than a simple gig. After sharing a drink on stage with James, as tradition, it was clear–the Green Frog is exquisitely raw and beautiful because of it.
The Crying Shame closed out the night with a blowout performance. It seemed that each band demonstrated their underlying connection as they each could only further push the show toward some concordant and meaningful experience and end to the evening. As soon as they took the stage they came storming out of the gates. The sharp curated longhorns above the entrance reminded me of a six second bull at the rodeo. There was a certain intentionality behind their energy that kept even the most exhausted of us on our feet. It is easy to give in at the end of the night after such an amazing set of performances but the Crying Shame pulled some essence out of each of us. It was moving. It was like being shaken or rattled free of burdensome thoughts and troubles.