There was this one gig where a bottle of whiskey was wagered over whether we could bring down the house at the new Hotel Vin in old-town Grapevine. One manager named Warren Stowe figured a string band like the Bodarks would fit their vintage vibe, and so he booked us for a Christmas party in their lobby, in spite of skepticism from a co-worker. Now, I don’t know what kind of lunatic would ever bet against hootenanny, but I suppose that other guy was just stuck on regular ol’ cover bands.
Anyway, we helped Mr. Stowe win his bottle of whiskey, hands down. The only problem was, he couldn’t drink his winnings. You see, he was struggling with a bout of lung cancer, and whiskey and chemo don't mix. Before he'd gotten sick, it was Warren who had the wild idea of converting a part of the hotel into a live music venue. What was originally intended as a flower garden would now be called the Third Rail, and host all sorts of local talent - like our buddies Droo D'Anna, Justin Pickard, the Buffalo Ruckus, and Mountain Natives.
After winning his undrinkable trophy at the hotel's Christmas party, Warren was gnawing at the bit to have the Bodarks back, and lined us up for a whole bunch of gigs in 2021, when the new venue would be open. He geeked out on live music, and would hand-select each act rather than outsourcing to some robotic agency that mismatches artists they've never met with venues they've never stepped foot in. With the paint still drying, he insisted on giving us a grand tour of Third Rail and the hotel's new Harvest Hall food court.
Before tragedy struck, we got to be pals with Warren. We also became regular favorites at Third Rail once it launched. In addition to hotel residents, crowds of local fans would return to see us routinely. The hotel even threw a party in February to celebrate nine years of Bodarkin, with a personalized cake and all. And when they needed promo pics with a band on the new stage, they reached out to us to do the honors.
We played their St. Paddy’s Day party. We played their Halloween party. And we did a series of “Bluegrass Brunches” as a trio.
The highlight of it all was our first annual Christmas-In-July Ho-Ho-Hoedown. We figured a lot of folks had missed Christmas 2020 due to the pandemic, so we started prepping Bodarked versions of holiday tunes while we had lots of road time during our summer tour (More about that here). When we got back to Texas, Third Rail provided the venue, and we provided the party...as well as a bona fide Bad Santa, played by our pal Ernest Mathews (Pssst! We suspect he's the real deal).
Our summer joys soon came to an end, however. Just weeks after sharing the Third Rail stage with Droo D'Anna and his Peace Crush band, we learned that Droo had died of COVID. Now, we'd known him since a House of Blues gig back in 2016 and had played several shows together through the years. But when we watched that last performance at Third Rail, we were never more blown away. The music world sure lost a big one.
Our sorrows didn't end there, unfortunately. Our new friend Warren Stowe would also be taken. His cancer had returned with a vengeance, and although he occasionally made appearances at the hotel to witness his handiwork in action, it was a struggle and he ultimately had to watch it all live-streamed. But in the end, he got to see his pet project known as the Third Rail take flight and make so many folks happy.
We dedicated our next show there to Warren. And now, whenever we play at Third Rail, we set aside a glass of whiskey for the man who bet on the Bodarks.
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