The Mousetrap is currently celebrating its golden anniversary (that’s 50 years). Mike Quarto, who has owned the bar for the last five years, is already looking forward to another 50.
“This place has gone through so many incarnations,” says Quarto, who owned the Lafayette bar Chumley’s and worked at several Broad Ripple taverns pre-Mousetrap.
Quarto says his work to give The Mousetrap a new identity has paid off.
“When I first went there in the late ’80s, it was a Cajun joint on the weekends,” he says. “It had really good food and atmosphere — as authentic as it gets. The problem was during the week it turned into a dive once the food was gone.”
Quarto’s goal upon buying The Mousetrap was to bring it into the 21st century and make it a safer place.
“I put some windows in the place. The carpet hadn’t been changed in 15 years. There was a big ol’ TV screen, but you couldn’t see anything.”
The Mousetrap now has the reputation of being one place in town to see jam bands with no cover.
“I would rather give a band a full night of exposure with no cover and maybe have 100 or so people listening than 15 people paying $15 to see them,” he says.
NUVO readers voted The Mousetrap the Best Bar for Hippies in 2007, which Quarto says obviously helped attract attention to his place. His next step will be to get more local bands involved.
“It’s been about 60-40 regional,” he says. “I’m trying to fix that. In ’08, we’ll continue to have opening bands, especially if the headliner is a regional act. Let’s get a local artist to open so we can see another local band succeed.”
The Mousetrap, along with neighboring Locals Only, is a prime spot where local voices can be heard.
“It’s fun to see the parking lots full on a Friday night,” Quarto says. “I try to make sure we don’t have the same style of music [as Locals Only] going the same night. It is cool to see the crowds go back and forth. It’s a good night of music for Indianapolis.”
The Twin Cats, Midwest Rhythm Exchange
Indy’s own The Twin Cats will soon be celebrating their 10-year anniversary. The quintet features identical twins Seth (vocals/guitar) and Adam (drums) Catron. The band is known for its blend of improvisational jazzy jams with some serious funkafication. The band has opened for national acts like Garaj Mahal and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band while headlining across the state.
Performing with them will be The Midwest Rhythm Exchange, an acoustic band featuring the mandolin. Their jams lean towards bluegrass, jazz and blues. Think The Grateful Dead mixed with Stephane Grapelli and Django Reinhart.
The Twin Cats will return to The Mousetrap on Feb. 1 while The MRE return on Dec. 28 and Jan.11.
Groovatron is a sextet that mixes rock, progressive rock and old school funk. Don’t be surprised if serious choreography and various costumes and party themes come into play. The band’s Web site has listed that interstellar fighting robots could break out during their live show. Members of moe and The String Cheese Incident have jammed with the ’tron.
For more, see www.myspace.com/mousetrapbar.
Matthew Socey is host of The Blues House Party, Saturdays at 10 p.m. on WFYI 90.1 FM.