Canoe Club brings live music to town

by Anna Parachkevova | 11/25/03 6:00am

The Canoe Club, the latest addition to Hanover's dining scene, opened its doors Sunday night to positive customer reviews."The Canoe Club offers an intimate atmosphere, good beer, and great music," said Chris Hoyt, one of the customers on Sunday. The dimmed lights, the walls covered with Dartmouth memorabilia and the tunes of a bluegrass band attracted a crowd of community members, Dartmouth undergraduates and graduate students.

Canoe Club owner John Chapin said he moved to the Upper Valley five years ago and fell in love with the area. He owned music club Lloyd's in Connecticut, which had an active cabaret scene.

When Mojo's Bistro closed its doors in June, Chapin purchased the location on 27 South Main St. from Nigel Leeming, the owner of Murphy's. Chapin saw this as an opportunity to bring a late night venue to town.

"It is healthy for the community to have a variety of options," he said.

Despite the skepticism of some, Chapin thinks Hanover has the potential to become more vibrant, hoping that "five years from now, there will be more clubs around here."

Chapin said that the Club was supposed to open earlier in the fall, but he wanted to put the final touches in remodeling the interior, which has the capacity to accommodate 147 people.

The remodeling process included repainting the walls as well as fixing the sound and light systems for the live performance stage.

The delay was partially due to the fact that the town administration was initially reluctant to allow a music club on Main Street. Town officials claimed that according to a zoning ordinance, live music was not appropriate for a restaurant setting in town. Chapin appealed the decision in front of a local board and won.

The Canoe Club will offer live music every night. Almost 70 percent of the bands will be local, within 30 mile radius, and the remaining 30 percent will be nationally touring bands.

Dartmouth students will also have a chance to perform. Except for hip -hop and metal bands, the music will cover a wide range of styles with an acoustic focus, Chapin added.

Future entertainment events include a rhythm and blues band on Saturday night, a jazz trio, a blue grass group on Thanksgiving night, and a swing band in early December.

Chapin also mentioned that the Canoe club will put together a pub sing, which allows customers to sing well-known songs together. Depending on the type of event, a cover fee of $3 or $4 will be charged on some nights, Chapin said.

He added that he is not planning on investing much money in advertising the events, but he will compile an e-mail list for people who are regular customers and might be interested in receiving additional information.

The Canoe Club is not targeting a particular clientele, Chapin said.

Dartmouth undergraduate and graduate students as well as members of the communities are welcomed. The club is open to people of all ages, but will strictly follow the 21- year policy and won't be "drink friendly" to underage customers, said Chapin.

The full bar offers an assortment of mixed drinks, wines, and 16 different kinds of draft beer.

The Canoe Club will open every day at 5:30 p.m. for pub-menu dinner at affordable prices. Chapin said the closing time won't be fixed but will instead depend on whether there are customers or not.

The late menu includes oysters, wings, quesadillas, hamburgers as well as some desserts.

Starting Dec. 5, the Canoe Club will also serve lunch.