As a teen, Sean Brock discovered himself at a crossroads: music or meals?
In highschool, Brock, now the chef-owner of Audrey and June and the newly revamped Bar Continental, selected music and moved to Athens, Georgia, in quest of a giant break for his band. He obtained a job working on the legendary 40 Watt Membership, which helped launch R.E.M.’s storied profession. However he by no means performed a single observe onstage.
That failure launched a profession. Brock as a substitute went to culinary college, a path that led to the Capitol Grille at Hermitage Resort in Nashville and McCrady’s and Husk in Charleston, South Carolina. Now, with the relaunch of the Continental at downtown Nashville’s Grand Hyatt as Bar Continental, a listening bar, Brock is once more making music a central focus.
Late this summer time, the 45-year-old chef briefly closed the Continental and began filling it with audio system and turntables. At a Sept. 30 mushy launch, the chef manned the turntables behind the bar, spinning Tom Petty, remastered Bob Marley and different albums from a thousands-strong file assortment.
“I began realizing that I am on the midway level of my life and I wish to spend the following half specializing in music as a lot as meals,” he mentioned in a cellphone interview the day earlier than the mushy launch.
Whereas Brock is not concerned with Husk, it was after opening Nashville’s location in 2012 that he had an epiphany at Robert’s Western World on Broadway.
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“I bear in mind sitting there at Robert’s, consuming a fried bologna sandwich and consuming a PBR and listening to honky tonk,” Brock mentioned. “And I felt a fullness, this achievement I had been lacking.”
In Might, Brock made his annual journey to Japan, the place, he mentioned, reverence for approach extends to meals and sound programs. Each come collectively in Japanese kissasor the listening cafes with glorious audio Brock loves to go to.
“This time, I sat within the good spot proper in entrance of the audio system, and it nearly felt like somebody had dosed my drink,” he mentioned. “I could not consider the sound. It was nearly 3-D.”
He questioned why an analogous expertise did not exist in Nashville.
“I could not cease interested by it,” he mentioned. “It grabbed me. It was a life-changing second.”
Again dwelling, Brock started looking for tools to recreate what he had skilled in that cat. As a result of it was Nashville, the native Fb market was an audiophile’s dream. Brock assembled his sound system inside every week.
Among the many assortment are audio system the late Lincoln Wayne “Chips” Moman had constructed to be used throughout the mastering and mixing of “Highwayman,” which he produced for Willie Nelson, Johnny Money, Kristoffer Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings’ nation music supergroup Highwaymen.
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“These are one of the best audio system on the face of the planet,” Brock mentioned. “I am positive Willie Nelson rolled a joint on these audio system.”
Powering them are 300-watt solid-state McIntosh MC2300 amplifiers, notable as a result of they’re the identical amps that drove the Grateful Lifeless’s towering “Wall of Sound,” a three-story sonic phenomenon of audio system.
These amplifiers drive the sound on the Wolf Bar, named after a guitar Jerry Garcia first performed throughout the Wall of Sound period.
On the opposite facet of the bar is one other listening zone known as the Onken Bar, outfitted with Tannoy audio system in Onken cupboards powered by McIntosh MC60 tube monoblock amplifiers.
All of that’s to say that Bar Continental options distinct listening zones, together with one for individuals who do not care what types of amplifiers drive the audio system.
“That one has no audio system, and it is for individuals who want to have dinner and will care much less in regards to the B-side of Tom Petty’s ‘Wildflowers,'” Brock mentioned.
However one of the best audio system on the earth do not imply a lot with out high quality music, and that is coming from a library of about 5,000 data, relationship from 1958 to about 1990. Genres embrace traditional jazz, Mississippi blues, soul, traditional rock and honky tonk.
The music will information rotating programming that features soul music on Sundays and open desk nights on Mondays, throughout which company can signal as much as spin Brock’s data or their very own over his finely tuned sound system.
Bar Continental will even function ticketed whole-album listening events with meals pairings, with the primary on Oct. 17. That occasion options Brocks’s favourite album: a Robert Ludwig-mastered urgent of “Led Zeppelin II.”
The unique recording was so loud and scorching that the majority file gamers on the time could not deal with it, Brock defined. The consequence was a sonic sludge. The remastered model, he mentioned, is a masterpiece.
“If you hearken to this one, you nearly faint,” he mentioned. “It is nearly like driving a curler coaster.”
Brock will preside over the turntables on many nights, however he additionally has two staffers who underwent coaching much like that of a sous chef who will deal with the music and album care on different nights.
The objective is to create a 3-D sound expertise not not like a dwell present.
“I need it to have an effect on the physique, not simply the ears,” Brock mentioned. “I need it to really feel like standing within the studio with the musicians. That is what I am chasing.”
Food and drinks, location particulars
- Bar Continental’s meals menu will function a day by day rotating number of bar bites and bigger plates.
- Count on oysters, crudo, charcuterie and classics, together with steak au poivre and a top-notch cheeseburger. Brunch, in addition to the prime rib cart, might be served on Sundays.
- The beverage menu options traditional cocktails, zero-proof choices, a curated wine record and native beer on faucet.
- It is adjoining to the Grand Hyatt at 1000 Broadway Suite 101. Friends enter the resort foyer and switch left to entry the bar.
- Bar Continental might be open nightly seven days every week from 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 5-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Extra at @barcontinentalhifi on Instagram.