Daniel M. Zieno, Contributing Writer
The Black Oak Tavern was established in 1974, and it is nestled at 14 Water Street, next to the Yellow Deli downtown. Wednesday nights are “SUCO Night” where admission is for ages 18+. Walking up to the Oak is an immersive and inviting experience in itself. It has a wonderful entrance with a faded canopy and a green lamp above it that adds to its appeal and welcomes its patrons. The door charge is minimal and the first “hello” you get is from a P.A. speaker in your left ear. You then have to comb your way through a crowd of happy music fans to get to the bar. There are red lights above the bar, and wonderful architectural and artistic pieces throughout the whole facility.
Concert-goer Martin Perina, 21, is an international student from the Czech Republic who majors in physics at Oneonta. I met Martin while overseeing a game of pool with some of his friends. Perina was impressed with the Oak’s music. As a musician himself, he has composed five symphonies so far in his life.
Perina explained, “The music here shows some kind of opinion to the world and political system.” The Oak is a great example of a place where culture, freedom of speech, and expression can exist unabated. Perina said that he liked the scene at the Black Oak compared to other establishments downtown where according to him, “People are random, and not friendly or open minded.” The Black Oak is a place that is accepting of all walks of life. People at the Oak would rarely have anything but polite critiques of a person’s actions or words. There was not a single person being judgmental of another based on personal constitution or inherent lifestyle. Amongst his peers, Perina seemed right at home and comfortable at the Oak.
Rootkit Disaster, one of the acts that night, is a band made up of three SUCO students who describe their genre as indie/folk/punk. Rootkit Disaster has a beautiful sound, and at one point they played a great cover from the group NOFX. They had a homey and humble vibe, much like that of the venue itself. It is a great relief as a musician and music listener to visit a place like the Oak and see music in its best form-raw. Large, theatrical stages have their place in music, but it is always refreshing to find a hole in the wall venue that has a small, local feel where musicians and listeners alike feel less pressured by bright lights and giant speakers. They can focus on sharing their love of life and music.
“SUCO Night” at the Black Oak Tavern is a great place for not only musicians and music enthusiasts, but for anyone because it’s welcoming! The Oak is a great place to get your feet wet in music culture and for musicians it’s a wonderful place to learn the ropes of performing and developing their craft. SUCO Night is a downtown Oneonta gem and its love of music is even better!
More information on the Black Oak Tavern can be found at www.blackoaktavern.com.