These days, if a bar opens downtown and stays in operation for a year, it's reason to celebrate. If you've survived 150 years — well, the owners should get the key to the city or something. Turns out, the "something" for 150-year-old establishment Arnold's Bar and Grill —popular as a bar, restaurant and music club — is its very own local holiday. Next Friday, April 8, has been proclaimed by the mayor "Arnold's Bar and Grill Day." The Eighth Street watering hole, of course, will be in maximum party mode to celebrate the honor that day.
Arnold's has always survived on its vintage charms and comfortable, non-pretentious atmosphere, but the bar has become more than just a kitchy tourist attraction by engaging with the community and providing an outlet for a surprisingly wide array of local musical acts. The outdoor, covered patio "stage" (really a faux old-timey facade straight out of the Country Bear Jamboree set) lends itself to the Roots, Americana and Acoustic acts that fill the music schedule (the Cincinnati Dancing Pigs jug band is still a big draw).
But Arnold's has also been open-minded enough to feature more unexpected musical acts. The tavern has been a participating MidPoint Music Festival venue from the fest's beginnings a decade ago and has subsequently showcased acts like young Ska/Reggae ensemble The Pinstripes, jammers The Rusty Van Band and the rowdy Sundresses (who played this past weekend ). Within the Roots realms, the venue has welcomed many newer, up-and-coming Folk, Bluegrass, Jazz and Blues artists as well as those who make music more adventurous than staunchly traditional. And the bar has also opened its doors to other performing arts groups and is a popular "business" meeting spot for way cool businesses like CityBeat.
Along with cheap drinks, Arnold's will have music all day April 8. Pianist Todd Hepburn plays from 3-6 p.m., followed by the Catfish Evans Happy Hour Jazz Combo (6-8 p.m.) and eclectic Surf Rock band Don't Fear the Reverb, closing the night out at 9 p.m. Stop by and raise a glass to one of the cornerstones of downtown Cincinnati.