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Trading in Basketball Shoes for Cowboy Boots at Coyote Joe’s

At first glance, people tend to assume I love to be around large groups of people. However, this is a false assumption. As an extroverted introvert (yes, this is a real thing) who’s also an only child, large and congested groups of people will send my anxiety through the roof. That’s why I traded in basketball shoes for cowboy boots in the Queen City during the NBA All-Star Weekend.

The people of Charlotte anticipated the NBA All-Star Game since the announcement in May of 2017. Whether a sports fanatic or a local, the news brought its fair share of excitement from the beginning. But unlike many social media influencers, visitors, photographers, media personnel and other well-connected folks, I didn’t have a source, enough money or an extra limb to sell to get tickets or attend the events. But what’s worse, my nerves were keeping me from even wanting to walk around the large crowds exploring Uptown let alone attend an All-Star event, even if I wanted to.

In the days leading up to the highly anticipated events that would bring 150,000 people into Charlotte, I pondered alternatives to Uptown. From lunch spots to nighttime entertainment, I was trying to figure out how I could stay occupied without being smothered by a large group of people. Turns out, it wasn’t that hard.

My favorite watering hole, aka my living room, provided the majority of my nightlife pleasure — as much that can be had when you’re fighting a week-long cold. But Friday brought a unique adventure all its own. It involved cowboy boots and an Uber to a hidden gem off of Wilkinson Boulevard — a hidden gem for me, anyways.

Coyote Joe’s is a country nightclub that’s been bringing some of the most recognized country music singers to Charlotte since 1991. My boyfriend and his friend had visited the venue a few times before and told me what great experiences they’d enjoyed. However, I’d never visited or seen the venue before. Not a surprise, as I’ve only recently started taking a likin’ to (yes, I wrote that with a drawl in mind) country music.

In fact, the same friend who’d invited us to last fall’s Chris Stapleton show at PNC Music Pavilion was the catalyst for this past weekend’s visit to Coyote Joe’s. Not too long ago, he introduced us to Drake White. A country singer with a soulful vibe, Drake White plays the kind of music that’s easy for a rookie country music listener to sit back and enjoy. That’s why I was more than down to pay $15 to see him live at Coyote Joe’s.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect as we pulled into the parking lot. To be honest, at first glance, if there weren’t neon signs on the outside of the building, you’d think you were walking into an abandoned warehouse. But as soon as we walked in, I could tell why one of our other friends was overwhelmed with nostalgia about visiting Nashville, Tennessee, for her bachelorette party for the first time. A massive saloon that’s rough around the edges, Coyote Joe’s gives a Tennessee vibe of epic proportions to Charlotte’s west side.

This sprawling venue can easily fit over 2,500 people and is complete with three bars (unless there’s another basketball court-sized room I overlooked), outdoor patio, upstairs overlook, an electric bull, pool tables and, of course, a central stage area. While there was a sizable audience waiting for Drake White to perform, the size of the venue kept my anxiety at bay and, to my surprise, this black gal in cowboy boots felt quite at home.

At 11:00 p.m. on the dot, Drake White stepped on stage donning his wide-brimmed fedora. I must say, there’s something special about a musician who has the ability to transcend boundaries of music. Whether he was playing his own music or a cover, I felt connected to his stage presence from start to finish — even when I didn’t know a single word. But you best believe I sang to my boo when he started singing Salt-N-Pepa’s “Whatta Man!”

While I would’ve loved to be the lucky gal to run into J. Cole on the Queen City streets, I don’t feel like I missed out on very much. All in all, a Friday night at Coyote Joe’s offered a fair trade to the congestion I expected at All-Star Weekend and quite the refreshing entertainment.

Things to note before your first visit to Coyote Joe’s: bars are cash only (ATMS throughout), you can pay for shows at

the door, memberships are $1 and ride the mechanical bull at your own risk.

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