Don't Play B-17 (2008)

Chris Mooney

Not many jukeboxes in Manhattan are dedicated to country music, and some bars just don't live up to their names—the Dakota Roadhouse (43 Park Place) supplies mostly metal, while Madonna in a Stetson is as c&w as Boots and Saddle (76 Christopher Street) gets. And the bar named Country Bluegrass and Blues, a/k/a CBGB (315 Bowery), has long since changed formats. I aimed to find the best box for putting tears in beers, breaking up with your wife, and warbling redneck anthems in this Yankee city.

Way out west, the meatpacking district contains the liveliest music. Red Rocks West (457 West 17th Street), Hogs and Heifers (859 Washington Street), and the Hog Pit (22 Ninth Avenue) all offer a pantheon of greats. Biker rock and bluegrass flesh out the selections by outlaw country singers.

Heading away from the sunset, excellent jukeboxes are located in the (Hollywood-famous and always infamous) Coyote Ugly (153 First Avenue), Doc Holliday's (141 Avenue A), and Joe's Bar (520 East 6th Street). Doc's mixes up substance-rockers Ween's 12 Golden Country Greats with Shotgun Willie. Hats off to Coyote Ugly for its inclusion of CDs on Brooklyn's country label, Diesel Only; hats back on for its Savoy Brown CD. The unassuming Joe's Bar's juke consists almost entirely of CDs like Country Hits of the '90s and Country Heroes.

Now for the winners . . . the runner-up is the Great Jones Café (54 Great Jones Street). It has distinct style advantage—a 45 jukebox with two sides each by Jerry Lee Lewis, Lefty Frizell, Webb Pierce, and Ernest Tubb. But for complete dedication to sounds of rowdiness, prison, and tender mercies, the Village Idiot (355 West 14th Street, 989-7334) earns the honor of Best Country Jukebox. David Allen Coe is the bar's patron saint, and an assortment of compilations offer recent chart hits alongside plenty of Waylon and Hanks Jr. and Sr. The Idiot leaves little to want while yee-hawing late into the night.


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