Rare is the night during the past five decades that the scuffed panel walls of 4017 MacArthur Ave. haven't echoed with the twang of good old American music.
Shenanigans was the home away from home for the late Chickahominy Swamp dweller Page Wilson and his band Reckless Abandon. Its tiny corner stage has been graced by everyone from local staples Susan Greenbaum, NRG Krysys and Mo DeBree to an always unpredictable stable of touring hootenanny, country, alt-country, R&B, honky-tonk and straight-ahead rock ‘n' roll national acts.
It may look like a hole-in-the-wall on a block of holes-in-the-wall, but there's little doubting Shenanigans' pedigree as a piece of Richmond's music history. And since closing before Christmas, that's what Shenanigans is: history.
Owners Allen and Joan Davis lost their lease, and the building owner apparently plans a Greek restaurant.
On an unseasonably warm December night, about 100 people jam into Shenanigans. A tall dude in an STP T-shirt and crumpled cowpoke hat grabs a beer, elbowing his way between a mass of bodies decked out in Wrangler jeans and trucker hats.
At the end of the bar, Allen Davis nurses a beer and chats with his regulars. He says he's looking diligently for a new location, possibly on Brook and Parham roads.
Years ago, Kathryn Aiken dated the tall drink of water in the STP shirt — name of Joe Wharff — who towers over his fellow Slack Family band members on the tiny stage in the front corner.
"I guess we've been coming here for — well, I've been married for 18 years, and I guess I've been coming here at least that long," Aiken says. Her eyes look back in time. "So many traditions have been ending lately."
The band plays on.