The Bunkhouse returns with a promising first show

It’s back! Zach Ryan shreds next to audience members at the Bunkhouse’s reopening.
Photo: Spencer Burton

When the Bunkhouse Saloon closed in July without warning, it felt like a major blow to the music scene—but less than four months later, its doors are open once again. Now operated by former Artifice bartender Jillian Tedrow, the Downtown venue is back for a third go-round and it could be stronger than ever.

It opened to a packed house on Friday night, and the room was primed for hometown heroes Paige Overton and Jack Evan Johnson. The latter recently returned from Australia, and his bluesy, classic rock-tinged set was one of his strongest to date. Also back in Vegas—but just visiting—was Nashville export Zach Ryan and his band The Wanderers, performing new material that showcased the ex-Vegas songwriter’s grittier, more developed sound.

The new Bunkhouse, which features the same general configuration and sound system from its previous incarnation, has undergone a few noticeable changes. There are flatscreen TVs above the bar. The walls have returned to their original (pre-Downtown Project-era) stucco-orange, a heartfelt homage to the spot’s roots. Christmas lights hang over the stage. There’s AstroTurf on the back patio. The women’s restroom (finally) has mirrors. Patrons can enter from the 11th Street gate (or the alley on the opposite end). And the beer list has had quite the revamp (hello, Horny Goat Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter!). Though no food was served on night one, we’re anxious to see what Eat/Chow chef Natalie Young has in store for the bar’s kitchen.

More changes are expected over time, and though there’s no telling exactly how different Bunkhouse 3.0 will be, judging from Friday’s reception, the venue once more has a promising future.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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