Georgetown cafe sings the blues

I was in a funky space called Back Stage Cafe eating a chicken taco, homemade chili, and black beans and rice before my food took a back seat to the bluesy, soulful voice of Tony Talley.

Bits of Bob Dylan, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton poured from him as he plucked at his guitar.

Good music and good food is never a bad mix, and Brad Freeman has opened such a place at 816 Front Street in Georgetown.

"I've longed to have a music venue, and I like eating tacos, watching live music and drinking beer," said Freeman, a 35-year-old Georgetown native and former independent insurance agent. "So, I wanted to see if I could do it for a living."

On March 18, he did it when he opened Back Stage Cafe. It is home to tasty, nonfussy food and music acoustic and alluring.

You can hear and see the very heartbeat of Southern music from local artists while tasting Freeman's take on bar food.

There's Mama's Homemade Chili, which is actually made by Freeman's mama, Edna Freeman.

Made with finely ground beef, the chili, made without beans, is sweet and delicious. It costs $1.50.

His mama's chili also tops his signature all-beef hot dogs named after soul and rock legends.

The James Brown hot dog comes with chili, coleslaw and onions. The James Taylor hot dog is Freeman's name for a plain hot dog. The Carlos Santana hot dog comes with Freeman's homemade salsa, onions, jalapeno peppers and cilantro. The Beach Boys hot dog is made with chili and Palmetto Cheese, a magnificent pimento cheese made with sharp cheddar cheese. All hot dogs cost $3.50, and there are 13 in all.

Other menu items include burritos ($4), chicken tacos ($3.50) and black beans and rice ($1.50).

The walls of the eatery are painted a fiery red, with local artwork, which is for sale, covering parts of it.

There are window seats, bar seats and a drink rail made from an old shack torn down from Freeman's house.

An open-air backstage, located out of the back door of the eatery, will be outfitted with chairs with space enough to hold the live acts once the city of Georgetown gives it final approval. In the meantime, musicians, including Talley, 39, who also works for Freeman at Back Stage Cafe, showcase their talents in space designated for them in front of the eatery.

Freeman hopes his place will be a key gathering spot for musicians and other creative folk, such as poets, to showcase their talents and network in one take.

Open mike night is every Thursday, starting at 7:30 p.m. until.

Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, with live music featured Friday and Saturday.

Back Stage Cafe is open from 11 a.m. until on Thursday and Friday and closes at midnight Saturday.

Beer and wine are sold, but it is a nonsmoking bar.

Back Stage Cafe isn't McDonald's, but I'm certainly loving it.

Call 546-4900.

Soul food sister

Tara Tracy is about to hit up 713 Front Street in Georgetown with some soul food, but it won't be what you're expecting.

"I'm going to do upscale soul food," said Tracy, the former executive chef of Crady's in Conway, where she was for nearly 11/2 years. "My plates will be sexy. They are going to wow your eyeballs, and they are going to wow your belly."

With a tentative opening date of May 1, she will introduce her take on Southern soul food at her new spot called Limpin' Jane's.

The eatery's name is a play off of Limpin' Jane, a dish that is the lesser known cousin of the rice and cowpeas dish called Hoppin' John, a staple dish of the Gullah community and Lowcountry dwellers. However, instead of cowpeas, Limpin' Jane is made with hominy.

It will be an old South eatery and taproom infused with Tracy's effervescent personality and culinary talent.

The waterfront restaurant will feature local and sustainable food selections printed on small paper menus.

"Whatever comes in the door is what we will have," said Tracy, 31, who has been a chef 13 years. "I plan to keep it all local."

She plans to keep the eatery open all year.

"We have to love the locals, and I love the locals," Tracy said. "The fact is that if you are not catering to the locals as a restaurant you are not going to make it."

Her price point is expected to be in the $15 to $18 range.

New chef at Crady's

Torin L. Postal, a resident of Pawleys Island and native of Bronx, N.Y., has taken over Tara Tracy's helm at Crady's, which is owned by Barbara Whitley, her husband, Les, and their daughter, Heather.

Please look for more about Postal, the first black to be an executive chef for a major cruise line, in an upcoming chef profile on the food page.