While West Franklin and Carrboro are more typically the home for live music — original stuff, at least — there seems to be at least the seeds of something similar in East Franklin. Chapel Hill Underground, downstairs of the barn-like Bub O’Malley’s on East Rosemary, has seen a remarkable slew of usually-heavy bands play in the past few months. And Zog’s, a longstanding pool hall and bar on the same block, has recently booked a few shows itself. Tonight, Baltimore indie rapper PT Burnem and local punks The Bamfs play Zog’s. And on Saint Patrick’s Day, Boone’s Swift Science and Chapel Hill’s Fooligans rocked the small room. Yet there isn’t likely to be regular music at Zog’s anytime soon, says owner Mandey Brown..
“I wanted to give my talented buddies a place to perform and feel comfortable,” she says, echoing the booking conceit of the nearby Underground. “If I have a local band with a good attitude and some talent, I want them to treat Zog’s like their living room.” PT Burnem, for instance, she booked on a tip from her friends in the Bamfs. This is Burnem’s second time playing the room this month.
Yet she doesn’t want to alienate regulars by transforming Zog’s into a full-on venue. There’s a small stage, a partial PA, and a little bit of floor space that isn’t taken up by pool tables. “I consider Zog’s a bar first and a music venue second or third or even last,” Brown says. Additionally, Zog’s held a release party and potluck for Tiny Canvas Records and has “BYOV” nights, where customers are invited to bring their own vinyl to play on her dad’s old record player.
In September 2005, Brown and her brother, James, moved from Katrina-devastated New Orleans to Chapel Hill. In 2009, she started working for original owner (and bar namesake) Tom Herzog. The following year, she bought Zog’s from him. Once it was hers, the homesick Brown redecorated — giving the room a New Orleans vibe. With the staff all immediate family and close friends, Brown sounds like she’s actualized her idea of Zog’s as a place to relax and feel at home. “My dad does 16mm movie nights here and my mom and her friends are all regulars. I got a family business and that is what I wanted.”
PT Burnem and the Bamfs play Zog’s tonight at 8pm. The show is free.