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Party animals: Fat Cat, White Hawk & Copper Rhino

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More than half-a-dozen bars and nightclubs are located within a four-block radius in Downtown Modesto – like the Firkin and Fox at the corner of 11th and I Streets. Even more are tucked off along t...


POSTED April 28, 2012 1:48 a.m.

MODESTO – It’s one thing to stare up at the artist’s name you’re seeing that night on the marquis out front. It’s another when his tour bus is parked right outside the front door.

Welcome to the Fat Cat Music House and Lounge.

Built as Modesto’s premiere destination for music and events of all flavors, the downtown haunt serves up both fresh local talent and well-known acts in an intimate, small-house setting.

It’s the kind of place that Chris Pererria loves to frequent when performers like those that rolled through mid-week – Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne and Sacramento native Brotha Lynch Hung – take the stage.

“You’re so close to the stage. It’s kind of like they’re playing in your backyard or something,” said Pererria between drags on his cigarette. “The best part is you don’t have to drive to Oakland or Sacramento or Fresno to catch the show. It’s right here. They have stuff here all the time.”

While the Gallo Center for the Arts has become the city’s major performing arts complex for the world-renowned performers and events – reserved for the likes of Bill Cosby and Smokey Robinson – the Fat Cat has remained the place where working artists can connect with their fans.

Blues great Jimmy Vaughn has played there, as has heavy metal favorite Rob Zombie and hip-hop legend Talib Kweli.

And with a diverse range of productions – the site has hosted boxing, wrestling and MMA events in the past – it helps a wide subset of the heart of Downtown Modesto.

That only helps neighboring businesses and nightspots like the nearby Firkin and Fox, a British-style pub, and the Speakeasy Lounge – a small but popular hangout a block away that features live music and a range of drink offerings.

College student Sabrina Vierra enjoys having a downtown district with a variety of nightlife options right in her backyard – always offering up something to do every night of the week with friends.

“If something isn’t going on at one place you can always go to another,” she said. “For a town Modesto’s size there are a lot of spots and you don’t find that everywhere. We’re lucky to have something like this close to us.”

Not every popular bar, however, is tucked into the grid of downtown.

On the north side of McHenry Avenue, P. Wexford’s Pub draws in a healthy crowd with their blend of 24 on-tap brews and traditional pub fare. Thursday nights always draw well for “Pint Night” – customers can take home the glass of the featured beer for that night – and both Friday and Saturday are popular at the traditional Irish pub. Jameson Irish Whiskey is also available on tap.

The grub and grog combination draws everybody from sports fans and friends to families enjoying dinner.

“Thursday is probably our busiest night of the week with pint night going on,” said manager Stephenie Dillon. “We have live music and it’s a good atmosphere. People like coming out for that.”

Other Modesto nightspots include:

•The Running Iron – Just blocks from Five Corners, this haunt on Modesto’s main drag features shuffleboard tables as an alternative to the traditional bar games of pool and darts. A crowd on weekend nights is not uncommon.

•The Copper Rhino – Part bar and part dance club, The Copper Rhino offers up a pair of bars, a litany of music choices and a dance floor for those looking to cut a rug. Situated on 10th Street, the spot is within walking distance to other popular Modesto watering holes.

•White Hawk Lounge – Located on the north end of McHenry Avenue, this neighborhood bar invites a variety of patrons and offers karaoke on Friday nights. The bar is cash only, and a jukebox is available for musical selections.

To get to The Fat Cat, take Highway 99 South to the Central Modesto Exit and turn left on I Street. Drive straight for just under a mile and make a left on 11th Street. The club is on the right. Parking is available at nearby garages and in metered spaces.

Hours vary depending on the event, but the box office is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.


209 staff reporter


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