A lot has been said in the last few years about the future of Annandale's old hold out honkey tonk,The Sunset Grille, but one thing is certain: the future of fun begins most Thursday nights around 9. That's when Johnny Castle and his Thrillbillys take to the tiny stage and bring a huge sound to the tiny room. This month you can catch them next week on AUGUST 26th.
Johnny Castle has been playing the Sunset Grille on Thursday nights for over 18 years and one can tell that he feels at home there. First with Bill Kirchen's Too Much Fun and for the last six years with his own band Johnny Castle and The Thrillbillys.
Very few bands in the DC Area bring as much talent to the stage as this aptly named quartet. Most folks know of Johnny from his early days with Switchblade, his many years with Bill Kirchen and currently touring the world with DC's own Nighthawks. Wammie Award winning Singer /Song writer, David Kitchen, is on guitar and vocals. David has been playing around town for years and heads up his own band The David Kitchen Band. Tearing it up on lead guitar and standing behind not one but two lap steel guitars is Andy Rutherford. Andy has been known to play with DC's own Kathy Ponton King and Ruthie and the Wranglers. Knocking it out behind these guys at the kit is Robbie Magruder. Robbie is known for his years with legend Roy Buchanan and ten years with Mary Chapin Carpenter.
But enough about the band, one couldn't describe Thrillbilly Thursdays without mentioning the scene. Many, many regulars line the bar and call themselves Grillbillys, and just about every night local musicians stop by to play a few with the band. Just this summer I have seen Esther Haynes, Mark Noone, Dave Chapel, JP McDermot and Andrea Leblanc perform impromptu with the band.
Fortunately this scene has been captured on Bloody Fingers Music 2006 Thrillbillys Live at The Sunset Grille album and a much anticipated studio release from the band is coming out this fall.
So if you want to jump start your weekend on a Thursday night The Sunset Grille in Annandale is a great place to do this. It should be noted that while "The Grille" has had somewhat of a rowdy roadhouse reputation David Kitchen is quick to point out that "not a single fight has ever broken out while the Thrillbillys are on stage."