On Friday afternoon, a few men sipped whiskey at the quiet bar. At 6 p.m. local blues/rock band American Buffalo was playing to a largely college crowd speckled with professionals.
The pub filled with bikers at 8 p.m. as local blues legends Willie and the Reinhardts took the stage. But the spiked hair and studded leather of punk rockers gradually replaced the leather of the biker breed at 11 p.m. as fans of the Trailer Park Tornados crowded around the stage. At 4 a.m., nearly 12 hours of live music and hundreds of customers later, Mohawk Place closed its doors.
Mohawk Place, just south of the Chippewa strip at 47 East Mohawk St., houses a diverse music scene showcasing bands from nearly every genre, and many that are as original as the place itself. The variety at Mohawk includes rock, punk, blues, rockabilly, alternative, country, psychedelic, new wave and garage rock.
Walking into Mohawk Place, one immediately notices the elongated bar, classic jukebox and the hundreds of pictures of past performers adorning the walls. The stage is small with an intimate standing room area at its feet, a few tables against the wall and a poolroom in the back.
Its unique architecture, dim atmosphere and original style have helped Mohawk Place become a staple venue for many local musicians. In the past two years local blues band Willie and the Reinhardts, and rock groups such as Bobo and Girlpope have recorded live CDs at Mohawk Place.
"Most bands get a good feeling playing in here, there's something in the air," said owner and manager Pete Perrone.
Willie Haddath, vocalist and guitarist of Willie and the Reinhardts, which has performed regularly at Mohawk Place for the past six years, agrees.
"People seem to come right up to the stage and really listen to what you're playing," said Haddath.
Mohawk Place solidified its reputation as one of Buffalo's premier live music clubs by booking up-and-coming music acts. It was awarded the WBNY 91.3 FM, Buffalo State's student radio station, award for "Best Small Venue" in both 2000 and 2001.
"It's like the multi-faceted CBGB's of Buffalo, definitely a great place to play at and watch cool bands," said Gerry Love, UB student and guitarist/vocalist for Plastic Soul, a band that frequents Mohawk Place.
Dave Chudy, senior marketing major at UB and drummer for American Buffalo, who has been performing weekly at Mohawk Place for the past year, shares Love's enthusiasm.
"The crowds are always interested and responsive at the Mohawk. People really seem to appreciate live music there," said Chudy. "When the Mohawk fills up with people the sound and vibe is incredible."
Renovated and opened in 1990 by Perrone, Mohawk Place began booking live music, mostly blues then, in 1992.
"At that time downtown wasn't really drawing a lot of people," he said.
He covered the costs of hosting live music by renting out the upstairs and it was three years before Mohawk Place began to break even financially, according to Perrone.
"It wasn't until Thursday at the Square got big in '95 and '96 when we began to draw more people," said Perrone.
Cover charges at Mohawk Place rarely exceed five dollars. It has about 10 beers on tap, featuring Bass, Boddington's and Sam Adams. Drink prices are moderate, with mixed drinks and bottles at about $3 each.
"The Mohawk is a music lover's place. People come here for the music," said Perrone.