Band stickers plastered the entrance to this odd little building that looked ready to collapse on the corner of Atlantic and Third Ave. Inside, construction paper penises hung adjacent Christmas lights from the ceiling. Above the bar it spelled “Dick the Halls” and “Merry Dickmas.” I had discovered this historic dive just in time, because apparently the modern high rises rocketing up downtown Brooklyn were soon to consume it.
The bar now called Hank’s Saloon has had multiple owners in its over hundred year history, At one time it was a hangout for Mohawk iron workers who built many city skyscrapers. It’s now a country western bar with a two-inch high stage about the size of my kitchen. I was there for the last Honky Tonk Brunch with Sean Kershaw and the New Jack Ramblers. After their set ended around 8pm, the place started to thin out a bit and David Haught came on stage with drummer Tami Johnson. Tall, muscular, hair slicked back and a mustache to boot, Haught looked like he stepped off an Oklahoma ranch.
He played classics by Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard as well as his own tunes that sounded like newborn classics. This guy is the real deal, and here he is singing for dollar tips. After playing a little he looked into the audience and said, “It’s nice to see some new faces.” “That’s me!”, I thought. The remaining folks were likely regulars, a lot of them musicians as indicated by some dozen guitar cases leaning against the wall.
On his break I approached him to shake his hand and express my appreciation. With a sincere smile he thanked me for coming and passed me his business card. I told him I would come to his last show here on Wednesday and bring a friend. This I did and was pleased to find he had a bass player and another guitarist along with Tami on drums.
Next year, the dive will be gone, but fortunately Hank’s will live on in a new location. They promise a real stage and sound system (though the crappy PA is part of the bar’s charm) above Hill Country Food Park at 345 Adams Street, an indistinct government building across from Borough Hall. Newly renovated, modern, Austin influenced “food park,” the opposite of dark and seedy–let’s just hope the yuppies don’t take it over.