12/19/11…Chris Gage @ Donn’s Depot

Donn's Depot

Donn’s Depot

Where oh where do I begin?  I guess I’ll start with first impressions and layout of this joint.  And it IS a joint.  Ok, so fortunately I arrived early since I thought Chris was starting at 8:00pm.  Before I even walked in, I saw the cool wraparound deck with picnic tables.  I thought, ‘what a great place to hang out when the weather’s good.’  When I walked in, I was immediately transported.  I didn’t quite know where to look first.  The bar is directly in front of the entrance.  There is seating right at the bar and also there are tables along the wall, next to the bar.  In the corner was a vintage card table (straight out of a casino).  To the left of the bar is more seating and high tables which are right in front of the pseudo stage.  I say pseudo because it’s laid out as a stage, but there are also chairs right at the piano and there are tables up there too.  To the right of this elevated level is the very large dance floor.    Then there are even more tables and seating to the right of the dance floor.  This space is so big.  Because of all the seating I actually thought they served food, but there is actually no kitchen.  I’m so glad I got there early because not only did I get to see the flow of people come in (and boy was there a good flow), but I got a tour and a history lesson about the place from a really nice lady who used to work there.  Apparently this place has been around for 30 years.  The building itself was actually a train depot that was moved from a different city in Texas to Austin.  I really believe that the decor is the same as what they used to open the place.  It has a very 80′s feel to it.  They’ve added a boxcar on to the back space and the women’s bathroom is actually a caboose.  I can’t tell you how cool this is.  This place has loads of character.  And to tell you the truth, I cannot believe how busy it was by 9:30 pm.  It’s Monday night, people!  Doesn’t anyone work?? lol  Anyway, the early birds are obvious regulars that probably stop by to hang after work.  There were a smattering of these at the bar when I arrived.  Closer to 9:00 pm (when Chris Gage goes on), more of the old-time regulars started filling up around the stage.  They’re obviously there to socialize and to hear him play.  Then, to my surprise, a large group of younger adults started filing in.  They got their drinks and either headed to the back or out to the deck.  In my two hours there, I really got a feel for this place.  Chris Gage is the epitome of the “piano man”.  He has a great sense of humor and really engages the crowd.  He’s a lot of fun and a great musician.  I’m not sure if this is a typical Monday night or if it was more crowded because of a birthday party they were hosting for one of their regulars or maybe even because it’s the week of Christmas.  What I do know is that I’ve probably driven past Donn’s Depot a hundred times and never even knew it was there. I’m so glad I finally got to check it out.  I can totally see coming here with a group of people for a fun, laid-back night of good drinkin’ and good people.  This place has a great vibe and a super friendly crowd.  It’s worth a visit or two or three…:)

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