The sun sets above the roof just as the band starts playing their instruments every Wednesday evening at Sundown Tavern. Guitar, harmonica and drums are all that is needed to lighten up the patio with some old fashioned blues from a local group.
Located in downtown Ruston, Sundown Tavern has been opening its doors for 37 years, but this is the first year they hold outdoor concerts.
Recently they began hosting local blues bands on their outside patio every Wednesday during the summer from 6:30-9 p.m. to attract people who have not previously taken notice of the local bar.
Eric Williamson, supervisor at Sundown Tavern, said the patio gatherings have been steadily building since they started the events this past spring.
“It started out pretty good but has gotten better and better,” he said. “People are really enjoying coming out here, getting to sit outside and hear some free music. You can’t beat it. It’s the perfect dinner atmosphere for people looking to have a good time.”
Every chair on the patio is facing the band as the moon lights up the scene. Even a man who the band refers to as a legend multiple times moves his chair a guitar’s length away from the band to grasp the magical feeling of the moment.
Beebo Johnson, blues performer who goes by B’bo when he plays with his band PB and Jam, said he feels like he is at a backyard house party when he performs at Sundown Tavern.
“It has an eclectic feel with a small town atmosphere,” he said. “There are not many college towns that have an outside patio where we can play in the open like this.”
With the crowd rhythmically tapping their toes to the energizing blues music, the patio remains packed until the band stops playing at 9 p.m.
Paul Richards, a Ruston native, said even standing in the back is worth the strain when the weather is so nice in the late afternoon.
“I’ve been coming to Sundown Tavern for 37 years,” Richards said. “It’s great here with all of the established old-timers in the same place. I love it.”
Williamson said every town has a local watering hole and he likes to think Sundown Tavern is Ruston’s hangout.
“Right now we’re trying to figure out how to fit more people,” Williamson said. “This thing is getting bigger and bigger, and we want to be able to accommodate as many people as possible.”
He said people of all ages are welcome. Williamson said he wants all Rustonians to enjoy his establishment, and the new Wednesday patio performances are a way for people to come to Sundown Tavern and experience what so many others have loved for so long.
“We have a lot of new faces these days, but we try to get to know everybody personally,” he said. “Especially the people who come back to the bar and the girls (waitresses) try to do the same thing outside so this can be a comfortable place for people to come whenever they want.”
Santi Rossi, a Sundown Tavern waitress, said the regulars are always so friendly to her that she feels she is a part of a family at Sundown Tavern.
“I really didn’t know a lot of people when I moved to Ruston,” Rossi said. “I didn’t feel like I was a part of this town until I started working at Sundown.”
Some customers said they have noticed the hospitality at Sundown Tavern as well.
Mike Derling, a first-time customer at Sundown Tavern, said he was not expecting to find such an uncommon place in Ruston where everything else seems so conventional.
“There is a lot of personality in this bar, if it can even be called a bar,” Derling said. “To me this seems more like an oldfashioned saloon mixed with a European café.”
Sundown Tavern stays open every day from 11 a.m. to midnight, but if you find yourself there on a Wednesday this summer from 6:30-9 p.m., you might just stumble upon the little bit of magic the regulars have known about since the bar opened.
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