By Jason Ashcraft

The Louisville Rock Venue Review : Phoenix Hill Tavern

Louisville has a variety of bars, taverns, neighborhood watering holes, coffee shops and music halls, many of which support the original music scene in some way. One such Louisville landmark, The Phoenix Hill Tavern, has been around since the late 70's and has remained true to the rock n' roll roots that it was founded on. Located nearly at the end of the Bardstown Road / Baxter Avenue "watering" strip, The Hill (as some patrons refer to it) has long been a rock of stability in Louisville's ever-changing bar scene. Along the way, it has been the recipient of 17 Best of Louisville awards over the years.

Atmosphere: Upon entering, you might think that the owners pulled off one hell of an antique store heist in order to attain the classic old-time tavern look and feel. You could scour the walls all night long and not find the same ornamentation, sign or artwork twice. Head upstairs to The Roof Garden and you've entered Louisville's only rock n' roll greenhouse, where a Frisch's Big Boy hangs out over the bar. The lighting remains quite dim throughout the night, not only to emphasize the well-lit stages, but also to keep all of the rock 'n' rollers' looking as first-class as possible.

Phoenix Hill Tavern

The Hill also has an outside patio area which is open during the spring and summer months, offering a place for all the smokers to get their fix without having to leave the premises. The only downfall is the monotonous beats of top 40 dance, rap and hip/hop. If you're a true rock 'n' roller, then consider the patio bar PHT's encouragement to quit smoking.

Entertainment: On just about any given night.The Hill hosts one of many cover bands, including regulars 99 MPH, Wax Factory, Jefferson TARC Bus or The Velcro Pygmies that you can drink and sing with if you're easily entertained. No insult intended - the majority of them are great at what they do and they certainly work more than the my favorite original musicians who write, record and perform their own music.

Over the years, The Hill has shown appreciation for by booking an ever-increasing number of Louisville-based original artists, thanks to guys like Eddy Metal, Bizkit Promotions, Mom's Music and The Hill's own staff, all of whom host regularly scheduled original music events every month. There is also the occasional major / independent label artist on a national club tour playing in either the Saloon or The Roof Garden. The Reverend Horton Heat, Lacuna Coil, The Damwells, Candlebox's Kevin Martin, BB King, Tori Amos, The Goo Goo Dolls, John Lee Hooker and White Zombie's Sean Yseult have all appearing, along with many others from a rather impressive list

Staff: The Hill's staff can be rather inconsistent from one person to the next. Some are very sociable and some are just down right boorish. I've heard horror stories about the bouncer staff and how they are unnecessarily forceful when removing patrons from the property. Don't believe it until you see it or experience it. In all the years that I've been going to The Hill, I have never witnessed any staff member getting overly aggressive with any patron who was asked to leave.

The bartenders' level of friendliness and service seems to also vary from one to the other, so don't be surprised if you catch a little attitude from time to time. But, on the flip side, The Hill also has a few 'masters of mixology' who serve up their drinks as our best friend would for you. If you're fortunate, you'll have bartender Jason Potter serve up your spirit of choice. This guy may be "The Best Damn Bartender In The World."

Prices: The Hill's drink prices are a little more expensive then some other Highland establishments, especially if you like your drinks poured from the top shelf. Prices start in the $5 - $7 range for premium spirits and well drinks are $3.50. If your budget can't accommodate that price range, then "Retro Rewind Wednesday" at The Hill is the night when bargain drinks rule. You can chug down $.75 cans of Coors Light and $1.50 u-call-it drinks all night long, if you have the patience to rub shoulders all night with everyone and their cousin who packs the place to the rafters. But in the end, you're always better off spending your money with a locally owned business like PHT instead of paying even heftier drink prices at the battery of corporate bars on 4th Street.

If you want to know more about Louisville's own Phoenix Hill Tavern make sure you look them up on the web at or call them at 589-4957.