Nostalgia can be a beautifully comforting and healing thing. When Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ on Sullivan's Island (the sister club to the original Home Team in West Ashley at 1205 Ashley River Road) moved into the old Bert's Bar building at 2209 Middle Street, it couldn't help but embrace a little of the longtime Lowcountry entity's deep history.
After 23 years in business, Bert's Bar (a.k.a. Bert's Island Characters) closed its doors for good on Dec. 14, 2007. At that time, bar owner Tim Runyan told City Paper that he had to shut things down due to hikes in the rent, among other challenges.
Nestled in the business section of the island (where Highway 703 meets Middle Street), Bert's served as a casual beachfront watering hole for many years. Named after Bert Worthman, who first opened it in the 1930s as a pharmacy, Bert's stood out in recent years alongside some of the fancier bars and restaurants along the block as a working-class joint with a fair share of salty characters. A small mural on the side of the building read: "If it hurts, go to Bert's!" It was a well-known slogan on the east islands.
Bert's featured live blues, rock, and country acts throughout the years, and they served a greasy grill menu. It stood as a quiet monument to some good ol' beach days. In a way, the spot still does.
Last April, Home Team BBQ completed extensive renovations at the old Bert's Bar building on Sullivan's Island. They installed all-new fixtures, a new kitchen, and a fully-equipped music stage. Even after Home Team's tasteful renovation, a little of that gritty Bert's spirit still hangs in the air. Home Team hosts a respectful homage to those old vibes the weekend of Dec. 18-19 with a Bert's Bar Reunion celebration, featuring a double-shot of Mississippi-based blues combo Burnside Exploration (led by blues legend R.L. Burnside's youngest son, Garry Burnside).
Club co-owner and talent buyer Tony McKie and Radio Free Charleston's Bunky Odom (a music biz veteran and longtime Sullivan's Island resident) started working on the idea back in the summer. They've scheduled two full evenings of live music and festivities meant to "invoke memories of the former Bert's Bar."
"Bunky approached me sometime back towards the end of summer, wanting to put together something this holiday season that would bring the old Bert's crowd in to mix with the new Home Team crowd," says McKie. "We both felt that, previous ownership aside, most former patrons, employees, musicians, and islanders would enjoy the chance to come together under one roof — especially since it is the holiday season."
On Fri. Dec. 18, the music starts at 4 p.m. with acoustic rock duo Doug Walters & Rik Cribb (both of The Problems), followed by sets from singer/guitarist Bret Mosley, jamgrass combo Triple Lindy, and blues/boogie act Burnside Exploration. On Sat. Dec. 19, the music starts at 4 p.m. with an acoustic set from Mosley, followed by some soulful and jazzy jams from Graham Whorley (one of the busiest players on the schedule during Bert's final years), funk/fusion band Black Eyed Susan, and a closing set from Burnside Exploration. Admission is $20 each evening.
Call (843) 883-3131 or check out hometeambbq.com for more.