by James Hudson
And with that photo, The Buffet Bar made just about the most authentically "Tucson" Facebook post I can recall, even earning bonus points for being non food-related. Amusing on its own, without any knowledge of musician Terry "Texas" Trash or The Buffet, but allow me to explain why the image goes deeper than that.
As for The Buffet Bar, it’s one of the oldest bars in Tucson, established immediately following the repeal of prohibition in 1934, and has remained at the very same location on 538 E. 9th St. in the historic Iron Horse neighborhood. Like every good dive bar, it appeals to broad cross-section of Tucson's population. From longtime regulars to recently transplanted Cali kids, some of whom will soon to be moving next door at The Junction at Iron Horse boutique student housing complex, The Buffet has stood the test of time. It frequently makes national Top 10 Dive Bar lists, and its sights and smells are something most who have lived in Tucson can give you a story about, not unlike the old Grill/Red Room and its cockroaches.
Terry Trash has been a fixture on Tucson's music scene for over 20 years, from the very beginnings of local roots/rockabilly mainstay Al Foul and the Shakes to his current project Texas Trash and the Trainwrecks, which the Weekly's Joshua Levine wrote about last week. Terry forever solidified his badass bona fides for this writer during a Shakes performance years ago at the legendary Airport Lounge, in the basement below Plaza Pub on Pennington St. The chaotic night ended with Al and his Shakes getting banned from the venue; an audience member receiving a shot glass to the temple (thrown by a band member between songs, sailing over our table to the back row); and the band hundreds of dollars in debt. Not only did their bar tab exceed the band's fee, various portions of the Airport Lounge were destroyed during the performance, including the ceiling. Good times.
As could be seen at his recent hell-raising 4th of July show at The District Tavern, even injuries sustained from a run-in with a moving train seven years ago couldn't keep Terry off the stage. And just like Mr. Trash, The Buffet continues to chug along, year after year, serving up soggy dogs, pickled eggs, jumbo drafts and shots of its signature Buffalo Sweat. Despite all the changes the city has gone through, a visit to The Buffet still guarantees a good story, as will a performance from Terry. Hell, Terry was even at The Buffet during a feature the Weekly did back in December!
You can file this under the multiple "Keep Tucson ______" slogans, but it's also part of the future here. It's what's going to keep Tucson authentic, slightly disturbing and charmingly dysfunctional.
There's still plenty of creative elements and movements happening downtown, they've just got new names, a new generation of people behind 'em, and they're not happening on the usual strips. Whether hidden in the shops on Toole, down E. Broadway, or further south on 6th Ave., The Range will renew its efforts to keep a spotlight on these new "so Tucson" happenings, and those that have yet to form. Just not too bright a light, lest we scare away the surviving Grill roaches.