Jay Carter's 25 years in the bar and restaurant business have included associations with some high profile national names in the industry. He was the senior general manager at the ESPN Zone in Chicago and a partner at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Brookfield.
But he rides a Harley, has a penchant for barbecue, loves Johnny Cash and thinks Nashville may be heaven. JC, as he likes to be called, has ditched the suit and gone into business for himself, opening a Walker's Point honky-tonk that serves fried okra ($4.95), shrimp po-boys ($9.95) and fried chicken salad ($7.95).
Oh, and barbecue, of course.
Beer. Bands. Barbecue. That's the slogan behind Lo-Cash Live, which opened 10 days ago in the old Dubliner space at 124 W. National Ave.
Barbecue covers a lot of territory at Lo-Cash. You can get it as a dinner with five ribs ($10.95), brisket ($8.95), pulled pork ($8.95) or pulled chicken ($7.95).
A customer can choose among three sauces – traditional, spicy and Carolina mustard based. The entrees are served with fries and a choice of southern vinegar slaw, baked beans, mac 'n' cheese or corn on the cob.
Barbecue also shows up on a bun, with brisket ($8.95), pulled pork ($7.95) and pulled chicken ($7.95), all accompanied by slaw. Pulled pork or chicken also goes on quesadillas ($6.95). Other distinctly southern goodies on the menu are corn fritters with powdered sugar ($2.95) and peach cobbler ($3.95).
"It's all comfort food, and the most expensive thing is $10.95," JC says.
All 12 beers on tap have a Wisconsin connection, but the Lo-Cash "hootch," as it is identified on the menu, has a southern flair. The NASCAR is a sidecar with Bulleit bourbon and a sugared rim.
Bubba Collins is Tom Collins' cousin with the customer's choice of Smirnoff, Jack Daniels, Bombay Sapphire or Jim Beam. Shotgun Wedding mixes Smirnoff orange vodka, cranberry juice and assorted juices.
Carter did little to change The Dubliner's sleek wood interior. He attached chicken wire to the walls to give the space a rustic hint and he built a low 10-ft. by 12-ft. stage to accommodate the musicians who are currently playing at Lo-Cash Wednesday through Saturday nights.
As a tribute to local musicians who achieved regional, national and international success, the walls also contain posters and photos of Liberace, Woody Herman, Al Jarreau, the Chordettes, Jerry Harrison, the Spanic Boys and others.
About 60 persons can be accommodated for dining and listening indoors. An outdoor deck Carter calls the porch seats 40 in rocking chairs and at picnic tables.
There is no cover charge for the music, which local musician Brian Smith is coordinating. Smith, who sounds a lot like Johnny Cash, performs with an acoustic guitar as a solo act and with the band God's Outlaw.
"We want down and gritty Nashville music here," he says. "Music from before country turned pop. Music that tells stories."
Carter adds, "It's raw, it's real and it's barbecue."
The two men are not ruling out trying other musical genres on the small stage. Blues and blue grass are possibilities.
"I'm pretty much open to anything," Carter says. "We'll try anything once, twice if we like it," adds Smith.
Lo-Cash has a sound system in place, so musicians simply have to plug in and play.
And what about the new honky tonk's name? Low cash is a term defined by the Urban Dictionary as something cool but not requiring a lot of cash.
"That's it!" Carter declares.
Damien has been around so long, he was at Summerfest the night George Carlin was arrested for speaking the seven dirty words you can't say on TV. He was also at the Uptown Theatre the night Bruce Springsteen's first Milwaukee concert was interrupted for three hours by a bomb scare. Damien was reviewing the concert for the Milwaukee Journal. He wrote for the Journal and Journal Sentinel for 37 years, the last 29 as theater critic.
During those years, Damien served two terms on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, a term on the board of the association's foundation, and he studied the Latinization of American culture in a University of Southern California fellowship program. Damien also hosted his own arts radio program, "Milwaukee Presents with Damien Jaques," on WHAD for eight years.
Travel, books and, not surprisingly, theater top the list of Damien's interests. A news junkie, he is particularly plugged into politics and international affairs, but he also closely follows the Brewers, Packers and Marquette baskeball. Damien lives downtown, within easy walking distance of most of the theaters he attends.