The Sun Sets on the Half Moon
Musicians and music lovers gathered at Half Moon BBQ Sunday for a couple of hours of honkytonk and Budweisers and to say goodbye to Silver Spring's best live music venue, which closed its doors forever last night.
Hosted by local rockabilly singer J.P. McDermott (and his band Western Bop), the evening featured a number of cameos, including Ruthie Logsdon of Ruthie and the Wranglers and Dagmar of Dagmar and the Seductones, leading up to a group finale of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."
In between sets, McDermott told me he only found out the bar was closing on Friday night, when owner Marc Gretschel asked him to organize one last party. "I'm really going to miss this place," McDermott said, noting that his band had performed more than 50 times at the little concert hall and barbecue joint.
The Half Moon's closing appears to be a simple matter of economics. When the restaurant opened in a prime Georgia Avenue space back in 2000, Gretschel gambled on the neighborhood's future and signed a lease for up to 15 years. With Silver Sprung showing no signs of slowing down, that inexpensive long-term lease became worth quite a bit of money, and Gretschel received an offer too good to refuse.
It's too bad the Half Moon's fans only found about the closure at the last minute -- I got an e-mail about it on Saturday afternoon. Still, I have a feeling Gretschel -- the founder of the legendary Twist and Shout and Tornado Alley nightclubs -- won't be out of the scene for too long.
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