Blog Rating

Friday, November 28, 2014

The DEV : A Utica Alternative

With the closing(death) of The Electric Company on Varick St in 2012, Utica lost one of the few bars in Utica solely dedicated to music.

Its obvious that all over Utica we have multiple choices if you just want to catch a game and have a few wings and beers. But if you want microbrews, 'down to earth' bartenders and a local band that is not playing Huey Lewis and The News covers you need a place like The DEV.

If you want a place where they will 'never' have a game on television you need a place like The DEV. A place where the lunch special is Chili one day and a Rueben the next. An eclectic atmosphere enhanced with the lively visual art of local legend Tony Thompson.

Located at 41 Devereaux St in Downtown Utica The DEV is able to double as a luncheon spot for the stable crowd at the county and state buildings during the day and then, within a few hours, transform into a nightclub for the growing number of 'hipsters' that call Utica home at night.

The sound system is always playing, either its a live band or a selection from the vast library of co-owner Tim Schram. It is possible to hear Portishead and The Grateful Dead in sequence, Smokey Robinson and The RZA within one visit.

They also feature the work of local artists on their walls. "They (the artists) actually sell most of the work they hang..." boasted server Rosie Swett.

The Owners, father and son team, Bill (Dad) and Tim Schram have discussed the reality of owning a bar for over ten years."Over the occasional six pack, my dad and I used to actually talk about 'a bar' when he retired, that was years ago" Tim reminisced.

Fast forward a few years, Bill is now retired and Tim has nurtured a successful career in graphic design (freelancing contracts for creative agencies in NYC). Tim and Bill found themselves in a unique position to pursue their dream.

"We opened in 2013 , there wasn't a lot of fanfare" Tim explained. "The first few months we operated without a liquor license just doing lunch" he said.

They got their liquor license almost year to the day of Electric Company closing. It would mark the end of a long drought in Utica nightlife. A place dedicated to local arts and music, with all fairness to the Tram, that serves beer.

"We don't just do the microbrews, we carry domestic brands to" explained 'down to earth' bartender Kayla Mcmahon during break in the afternoon shift.

The General Manager, old friend and local Chef Daniel Walter, has been with The DEV from day one. He and Tim have tinkered with the menu and format settling in on a regular weekly schedule featuring different DJ's and themes throughout the week. One of them : Video Game Night is a nineties gamer's paradise. "we have a sign-up sheet where you can play Mariocart or some other old school game" Walter explained. 'White Noise Wednesday' and Soul Saturday with DJ Thomas D round out the regular schedule. Kayla herself is featured in a regularly performing act aptly named, 'Kayla and The Tellers'.

The musical line-up varies. "We like all music, everyone is welcome...I mean, there is stuff we havn't booked yet" Tim explained perhaps noting the lack of country and western acts on his line-up.

The line-up features original acts from as far away as Dublin Ireland. " We like original music, bands that write their own tunes " Tim specified. The 'Original Act' philosophy attracts a lot of bands that would have a hard time getting on stage if it wasn't for The DEV.

The Varick St. venues seem to attract more cover bands than anything else. The Electric Company left a creative crater in the local music scene when it closed.

A lot of emerging styles and ideas in music and life are played out on stage and Utica is not always the place for original expression. There has never been a shortage of cover bands willing to play it safe by strumming rock standards everyone can sing along to.

But maybe thats all about to change. Maybe The DEV is the launch pad; the start of something big. Bands that regularly grace the stage like Comfy, or Kayla and The Tellers could easily break out.

Check out the weekly line-up

Utica (The DEV).