Wild days at White Water Tavern 

All the stories fit to print (and some that probably aren't) about the legendary dive bar.

Page 3 of 6

Greg Spradlin (musician): The last time Lucinda Williams played in town, she and some mutual friends had asked about coming out after the show and having a band to play with. So, I set it up at the White Water Tavern. She was a no-show (another story, another time), but it was cool to look out in the crowd to see Pamela Des Barres hippy dancing the night away at the White Water. If only Connie hadn't been banned, we could have had the two most famous groupies in the world under one roof at the White Water Tavern.

Garrison: The third fire was an accident. It was in the late '90s. A guy on a motorcycle who was real drunk ran into the back part of the storage room. I had just put a new gas hot water heater in because everyone told me how much money I was going to save with a gas hot water heater. It busted the gas line and when the hot water heater kicked on it burned the front side of the bar.

Garrison: When I first opened up back up in '99, Johnny B [of Mojo Depot] did my open mic on Wednesdays. People started coming. Another night we did rockabilly. We did all these things on off nights. That's how Tuesday nights started.

TJ Deeter (former promoter, manager): My original goal was to do something that was free, consistent and a mix of all different Arkansas music.

At the time, there were all these groups of people who didn't mix: the punk rock kids, the hip-hop people that did Under the Ground, the established groups like your Ho-Hums, the North Little Rock sludge metal folks, and the Conway and Fayetteville crowds.

I knew everyone, so I decided to invite everyone I knew from these different crowds because I wanted to kill cliques. I would try to put together the most random acts — say a folk singer with a rap group and a metal band.

Garrison: TJ came up to me and asked, "What's your worst night?" And I kind of laughed at him and said, "Tuesday night, motherfucker, it's everyone's worst night. You can do anything you want to on Tuesday. You're not going to scare me. And not only that, I'm going to give you free PBR — draft."

I got with my beer guy and told him I needed to give these kids something they could afford on Tuesday nights. So we did $3.50 PBR pitchers. And after 30 days, it was fucking packed. And it just got better and better.

He got the bands that would never get to play anywhere else. I thought they were the weirdest and most fucked up people in the world until I got to know them, and shit, I loved them. I loved them.

Deeter: It's hard for people to realize now because there's like a band playing every second in Little Rock. At the time, Vino's, the Belvedere or a punk rock house were the only places local people could play.

Eventually it turned into its own scene, with all these people who weren't actually part of a clique. People started to think of it as "the White Water crowd."

Talbert: I was one of the ones who encouraged Goose to lease the place out. He'd been talking about it forever, and he had had diabetes and the stress was getting to him. One night, after we closed, we were upstairs playing pool, drinking. And he started talking about it again and I told him, "You need to quit talking about it and do it because if you don't you're going to die." The next day he put a sign in the door.


Speaking of White Water Tavern

  • White Water gets Southern Salted

    October 21, 2016
    Lauren McCants, the Southern Salt Co. food truck founder and chef, is now serving food at the White Water Tavern Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday. On the menu: hamburgers and cheeseburgers (of course) as well as deep fried pork tenderloin sandwiches, deep fried chicken sandwiches, a smoked bologna and over-easy egg sandwich (real good, she says), chicken nachos and a special, like coconut curried chicken. There are vegetarian options, as well: Deep-fried tofu sandwiches, prepared with avocado and like a fish taco; and sweet potato and avocado tacos. /more/
  • White Water Tavern gets cameo in new Leon Bridges documentary

    May 5, 2016
    White Water Tavern gets a cameo in a new short documentary about soul singer Leon Bridges. /more/
  • Best of Central Arkansas bars and booze 2014

    October 16, 2014
    Times readers pick their favorite watering holes in Central Arkansas. /more/
  • Goose, remembered

    October 16, 2014
    White Water Tavern owner a loveable rascal, friends say. /more/
  • Larry 'Goose' Garrison, long time White Water Tavern owner, dies

    September 23, 2014
    Larry “Goose” Garrison, the longtime Little Rock bar owner known for rebuilding White Water Tavern three times after three separate fires nearly destroyed it, died Saturday, Sept. 20. He was 63. /more/
  • Matt White's 'Portraits in a bar'

    August 6, 2014
    Candid shots from White Water Tavern. /more/
  • Ginsu Wives to release new EP in pill bottle form

    June 11, 2014
    Locals Ginsu Wives, who we noted in this week's paper will almost definitely give you nightmares, are playing a record release show on Saturday June 14 at White Water Tavern, and here's one more reason you should go: The EP, titled "Panic," will come in the form of a prescription bottle containing a pill-shaped USB flash drive that includes the EP in three formats, music videos for each track and other stuff. Check out the infomercial above. The album will be available online July 1 at Thick Syrup Records. /more/
  • Stream the new Glittercore album (or even buy it)

    May 1, 2014
    Little Rock trio Glittercore has a new album out today. One of the tags on Bandcamp is "90's," which I guess means they aim to sound like a band from the `90s, which they arguably do, like tuneful, drop-d, Dinosaur Jr.-era indie rock or like a band that might be on Merge or Rough Trade. You can find it at iTunes or at Bandcamp, or you can wait and see them live with Mad Nomad at White Water on June 10. But then June 10 seems like a long time to wait, maybe you'd better go ahead and listen. /more/
  • Thursday night: Bonnie Montgomery and Andy Warr benefit for tornado relief

    April 30, 2014
    Tomorrow night, White Water Tavern will host the first in a series of anniversary shows for Little Rock's Thick Syrup Records, this time featuring locals Bonnie Montgomery and Andy Warr. Proceeds will go to benefit ongoing tornado recovery and relief efforts. Other Thick Syrup Anniversary shows on the way include a concert at Stickyz on May 9 featuring Bear Colony and The See and two shows at White Water on May 16 and 17, featuring Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth, Nathan Brown, Bonnie Montgomery, Ginsu Wives, Twelve Tone Elevator and Jumbo Jet. /more/
  • New song from The Coasts, 'Us Against the World'

    April 21, 2014
    Little Rock's The Coasts, who recently signed to the Brooklyn-based Old Flame Records (alongside bands like Cloud Nothings and Dead Confederate), have a new album on the way next month (May 20), and recently premiered a song from the record, "Us Against the World," over at Impose. In their interview, the band namechecks Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen and claims the song is inspired by "Hey Jude." /more/
  • More »

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