Kevin Drake has come a long way from brewing beer in the hall closet of his college house in Bend, Ore. With the addition of a new taproom on the corner of Bridge and Jibboom streets, he has now brought his contemporary craft beer and music venue concept to downtown Truckee.
As the saxophonist for gypsy, punk all-stars Sneaky Creatures, Drake knows the Tahoe music scene firsthand. When he and co-owner Rich Romo opened their first Alibi Ale Works taproom in Incline Village, Nev., in 2014, they almost immediately started booking local acts, but the place was always a bit small and not designed specifically for music.
Watch Tahoe Digs Monk perform at Alibi
“There are lot of places with great music but not beer and other places with great beer but not the venue,” says Drake. “As much as we love our first taproom, we knew that the Incline space was never going to be an amazing music venue. So, in Truckee we figured we’d combine great beer with great music. What could possibly go wrong?”
“I want to make it a place that bands absolutely love to play. If bands love to play here, then the crowds will love it, too.” – Kevin Drake
After renovating the building to fit their extensive tap system, Drake and Romo quickly focused their energy and resources on retrofitting the new space as a premier small-concert venue. They bought caster dining tables that can be easily rolled out of the way to create a dance floor and built an acoustic ceiling to refine the audio balance. Vibrational wizard Peter Kowalczyk of DT Productions was signed on as house engineer to dial in the bands on a newly installed Meyers sound system.
Sept. 7 | Etch Grooves
Sept. 9 | Wesley Orsolic
Sept. 12 | Bias & Dunn
Sept 13 | Muzička
Sept. 14 | Chi McClean
Sept. 26 | BrewHaHa
The brewers then met with Dennis Alexander, better known as local radio host and DJ “Mr. D,” at Gar Woods on Easter to discuss organizing booking for the venue.
“From the very beginning, they made it clear that they wanted this to be a non-genre-specific venue,” Alexander says. “That’s one of the reasons why they asked me to do it.”
Alexander is known for the diversity of music he plays on his KTKE 101.5 radio show “Deep Tracks.”
“I’m kind of known for being out there, supporting any and all bands,” he says. “I’d rather go see a band I’ve never see before. There are so many bands that are under the radar and they are just so good. That’s where the gems and the up-and-comers all are. So, I think they appreciated my open mindedness.”
In the three months since Alibi opened, it has already hosted a diversity of acts including metal, funk, rock, country, bluegrass, folk, gypsy and jazz.
“We’re hoping to bring fresh new talent to Truckee, as well as promote the amazing talent pool we have locally,” says Alexander. “We are also planning our first comedy show for Sept. 26. It’s called BrewHaHa.”
With its acoustic upgrades, a real stage with lights and the space to comfortably fit a small mob of 220 people, Alibi has quickly taken the quality of local music offerings to a new level.
“One thing that our space offers is it’s bigger than most other places in downtown Truckee,” says Drake. “When you get a bigger crowd, that results in a lot more energy. There are too many places in Tahoe that are mediocre to play and that translates into how much fun that band is having. I want to make it a place that bands absolutely love to play. If bands love to play here, then the crowds will love it, too.”
During this summer’s Truckee Thursdays street fairs, Alibi was bursting at the seams during its evening concert series. It was an encouraging start for Drake, who insists his business model was created to appeal foremost to locals.
“Seeing the Truckee community showing up and having a good time makes it all worth it,” he says. “There are too many businesses in our area just focused on the tourists. If you build your business around the tourists and I-80 gets shut down from snow or we have a fire that smokes out the Basin for week, it’s a bad business model. We’re locals and we’re here to put the locals first. We believe if we think that way all the other details will fall into place.”
Music starts at 8 p.m. Minors are welcome until 9 p.m. Follow Alibi Ale Works on Facebook and Instagram for music updates or visit alibialeworks.com.