Mojitos and music

By on October 8, 2014

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” – Billy Joel

On Wednesday nights Billy Joel’s words ring true, as locals can experience the Lancaster music culture while enjoying pizza, sandwiches and fall-themed drinks. If you are looking for some explosive expression this week, the Record Express found just the place.

The Sandwich Factory Sports Lounge

Harmonica in hand, host Kevin Gannon kicked off the sixth open mic night at the newly opened sports lounge at The Sandwich Factory. Joined by Albert Van Schaaf on guitar, with a deep voice perfect for singing the blues, the two men revealed the talent that unfolds every Wednesday during open mic, starting at 8 p.m.

Recommended by a regular customer to Eric Perrone, owner of The Sandwich Factory Sports Lounge, Kevin Gannon was selected to host their open mic every week. He is typically accompanied by a co-host. On the second Wednesday of the month his co-host is John Brown from Overload Junction, a band that recently played at JoBoy’s in Lititz. The fourth Wednesday, Wayne Thompson of Sonic Tonic hosts open mic with Gannon.

A big part of the local music scene, Gannon plays in a band of his own called Kevin Gannon and the Tarmac Blues Project. His mission is to invite different musicians to his band. When he gets a gig, he brings them with him to play. Always performing blues music, the Tarmac Blues Project hosts new band members all the time.

Only an hour into open mic night, there are already nine musicians signed up. Most of them found out about the open mic through Facebook or word of mouth. The lounge is experiencing a great response to the event.

“We see a new face all the time, which is what I love,” said Gannon.

Manager of the lounge, Andrew “Drew” Turnowchyk said that their open mic is a good mixture of solo artists and bands. The positive response to music may lead to scheduled gigs in the future. The lounge, which only opened two months ago, is busy during football season with that taking up three nights of the week. Once football ends, potential for more music will open up.

Right now, the special on Wednesday is a $6 mojito. It should be mentioned that the mojito is not a traditional mojito, but is made with RumChata and is creamy and white, almost creating a milkshake mojito.

Turnowchyk and the bar staff are working on creating a new lineup of daily specials. They have been experimenting with new drinks, such as the pumpkin bomb. If you plan on ordering this drink, which tastes like pumpkin pie, be prepared to chug. Dropping a shot of Goldschlager and RumChata into half a glass of Jack-O Traveler Shandy, the drink has to be downed quickly or the alcohol mixture begins to separate. For those who prefer to sip, the apple pie is a delicious cocktail topped with whipped cream and caramel.

The kitchen is open until 10 p.m. during the week and 11 p.m. on the weekends and serves the original Sandwich Factory menu along with a taste of Wisconsin brick oven pizza, which can be seen in the oven as you enter.

The new lounge is inviting with modern décor, a pool table, high and low top tables as well as a cushioned bench stretching across the back wall. Flat screen TVs flash across the room and wooden crates hang from the ceiling, adding an artsy expression to the sports lounge.

Open mic host Kevin Gannon (left) plays harmonica, backed by Albert Van Schaaf from Killin the Blues on guitar. The Sandwich Factory Sports Lounge holds open mic night each Wednesday. (Photo by Lenay Ruhl)

Open mic host Kevin Gannon (left) plays harmonica, backed by Albert Van Schaaf from Killin the Blues on guitar. The Sandwich Factory Sports Lounge holds open mic night each Wednesday. (Photo by Lenay Ruhl)

Open mic is set up behind the bar with comfortable chairs surrounding the corner that is designated for music. As open mic continues, Jason Gray sings a set of original music, jamming with Ryan Levan on their guitars. Gray’s music can also be heard on his CD, an alternative rock collection of expressive lyrics and captivating jams. Living in Lancaster, he plays in the band Octavia. This was Gray’s first time playing at the open mic.

Phyllis Sands changed the pace using just her voice and her keyboard. She captivated the audience with her fast fingers flying across the keys, singing covers originally sang by Stevie Nicks and Garth Brooks, just to name a few. She danced behind her keyboard, expressing her connection to every song.

“It’s getting hot in here,” she said as she paused to remove her sweater. Some of the men whistled.

The musicians lingered near the stage and engaged with one another, a display of the close-knit community they experience within the Lancaster music scene. They planned for a house party on Saturday night to hang out and jam. One of them walked around with his cell phone, showing everyone a picture of a recent psychedelic painting he found at an auction.

“I call him my acid trip pony,” he said.

There was also discussion of other open mics popping up in the area, such as one hosted by Jerry Garnier at Highlands Pizza on Oregon Pike. The first open mic there is scheduled for Oct. 16 and will be co-hosted by Bob Noble.

As the night got later, the open mic turned into an open jam with multiple musicians playing covers together. Some people got up to dance. Behind the bar, Turnowchyk watched the patron acceptance of open mic unfold.

“Every week there’s more and more people in here for open mic,” said Turnowchyk.

The Sandwich Factory Sports Lounge is located at 2520 Lititz Pike, Neffsville. For carry-out, call 581-8180. Visit them online at thesandwichfactorysportslounge.com.

Hours: Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to midnight (Kitchen closes at 10 p.m.); Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Kitchen closes at 11 p.m.)

Happy Hour: Daily from 4 to 6 p.m.

Lenay Ruhl is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at lenay.ruhl@gmail.com.

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