These 1890s Pleasant Street rowhouses-turned-hangout have been dedicated to live music since the 1980s, when Marsha Ferber started the Underground Railroad and, later, the all-ages Dry House. They’ve hosted thousands of live shows, fostering local musicians and bringing in big-name touring acts as eclectic as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bo Diddley, and Wynton Marsalis. Professional West Virginia musicians like Todd Burge remember Ferber with great affection and attribute their starts, in part, to the scene at the Underground Railroad.
The club went through a few incarnations in the 1990s, including the fondly remembered Nyabinghi Dance Hall. When the property was condemned in the late ’90s, Morgantown native L.J. Giuliani took it over, gave it a lot of love, and reopened it as 123 Pleasant Street to carry the legacy forward.
Two decades later, the club is doing just that. “Serving the community and local bands—that’s the foundation,” Giuliani says. “And we try to maintain a balance of genres: jam bands, punk rock, bluegrass, all kinds.” 123 still pleases the late-night core of its business as much as ever. At the same time, Giuliani and his booking agent schedule some events for a workingman’s crowd. And the club carries through on its longtime support for local and aspiring bands, hosting open mic nights, all-ages shows, and frequent PopShop shows of young musicians.
123 Pleasant Street wears a club patina that can only be earned through decades of the real thing. Three rooms with the stage in the center let any group of friends find its niche, and the good listening and dancing are backed up by tacos from the kitchen and a well-stocked bar with local brews. — PK
123 Pleasant Street, 304.292.0800, 123pleasantstreet.com @123pleasantstreet on Facebook