Pensacola, Florida
Monday August 20th 2018

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Vinyl’s Ready For Action

Vinyl Music Hall Opens Its Doors and Brings the Crowd
by Hana Frenette

The opening night of Vinyl Music Hall was the most excitement downtown Pensacola has seen since Afroman played at Seville Quarter.

The line to get in stretched from Vinyl’s front door on the corner of Palafox and Garden streets to halfway around the block. Five thousand people showed up and managed to keep the 520-person-capacity club completely full for over 4 hours.

“An opening night is never perfect,” said Joe Abston, one of four of Vinyl’s owners. “I’ve opened a lot of businesses, and this was probably the smoothest opening yet.”

Harry Levin, Sherrod Levin, and Evan Levin, all cousins, own Vinyl along with Abston, who also co-owns Hopjacks Pizza Kitchen and Taproom.

“We all met through business,” Abston said. “They’d come into Hopjacks and eat pizza and drink beer.”

And just like many great partnerships born alongside alcohol and a hand-tossed crust, so came Vinyl. “I was looking to do something in the music genre,” Abston said. “And it just all seemed to work really well.”

Vinyl was 14 months in the making.

Handpicked antique doors from New Orleans were brought in to make the bar and a state of the art sound system was installed. 5 ½, a high-end wine and spirits bar, was also built next to Vinyl and will be open every day of the week. It can also be accessed through the inside of Vinyl on nights when shows are held.

“You’ll be able to get fine wines and hand-crafted beers there—kind of like a throwback to the speakeasy.”

5½ is decorated with quirky light fixtures, exposed brick walls and a comfy couch or two, as well as bar stools. It looks like a place Woody Allen or Andy Warhol might have hung out in during the 60s.

“We really tried to take our time and get it right,” Abston said.

A lot of time and effort went into making Vinyl a unique venue and Abston wanted that to reflect in the music played at the club as well.

“It’s really exciting being able to go on the fringe of the music genres and have stuff that’s not played on the radio,” Abston said. “We don’t want to be considered a rock club or a country club, just a really good club.”

Vinyl recently released the names of several acts scheduled to play within the next few months, including Dr. John, The Misfits, and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.

“We’re touching on a lot of different genres and we want to embrace what the community wants,” Abston said. “We’re going to bring in a lot of people you probably heard on the radio growing up, and also a lot of people you may have never heard of at all.”

Diversity seems to be one of the main factors in Vinyl’s upcoming shows.

“We’re going to give 80s bands, country acts, and locals a place to play,” said Chris Wilkes, talent buyer for Vinyl. “We’re willing to try anything other than what’s expected.”

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