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Well before midnight at the Oasis
By MARK ST.J. COUHIG
I suppose I should have known better than to wander into the Oasis alone. It wasn't like I hadn't been forewarned. I'd been told I'd find some tough customers there, some playas so smart they can crush you simply by changing the frequency of their brain waves. Some are armed with IQs so steep they sometimes have to stick their head in ice water to keep their brains from boiling.
And some travel in gangs - predatory packs, really - just waiting for a guy like me to show his face.
Yeah, I was roughed up pretty good that first night I showed up to play trivia. I mean, who knows where the pumpkin capital of the world is?
These guys. (Morton, Ill., by the way.)
But I would be back, and things would be different. But that's a story for another day, or actually for another paragraph. The second-to-last paragraph in this story, in fact.
My wife and I first found out about the Oasis Sports Bar & Grill when we moved to Sequim in April.
Though the college football season was still six months away, it wasn't too early to ensure we would have a suitable place to watch our beloved LSU Tigers, and the Oasis came highly recommended. And in fact it's a great sports bar: good snacking food, good meals, too. Beer by the pitcher and big-screen TVs.
But then we discovered the Oasis is so much more.
When Dale and Janice Dunning bought the Oasis a year ago this week, they were invested in the idea that this is "where friends meet." That would be the emphasis.
So far they've succeeded, in no small measure because the Oasis has an entertainment schedule that by its constancy and quality is almost absurd for a city the size of Sequim.
Do you wanna dance?
The schedule is a little fluid, but the Oasis provides some great opportunities to dance. Better yet, you don't have to stay up past your bedtime to enjoy the tunes.
Monday nights, there's "Big Band" music beginning at 5:30 p.m. Wally & the Boys had 'em on their toes Monday night a week ago. This week it was The Cat's Meow.
Three bands - local favorites all - take weekly turns on Wednesday nights. There's Final Approach, specializing in popular rock of the '50s and '60s, Blue Hole Quintet ("an eclectic mix of music," said Dale), and Jubilee. "Jubilee is old country," Dale said. "The kind of stuff my parents listened to. They have a great following." Final Approach is the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month. Blue Hole is the first, Jubilee is the third.
Friday nights - prime rib night - the mood's a little mellower, with more acoustic stuff, including turns by Pies on the Run and Skidder Hill. The duo of Gil Yslas and Ricky May is on the schedule, too.
Saturdays there is generally a live band, or sometimes a DJ. Look for Robot Pi and Moderately Loud Rock on stage in the next few weeks. "It's always very danceable music," Dale said.
The bands have as much fun as the customers. Wally & the Boys, a "big band," consists of five stellar musicians who together have mastered the piano, bass, flugelhorn, trumpet, banjo, trombone and alto and tenor sax. The band actually has been playing together since the mid-'70s. Jim Rosand said, "There's only one way out of this band - it's a lifetime commitment."
Ray Nason piped up: "and I'm next."
Wally Gentry was the leader but he recently "kicked over," according to his old bandmates. Gentry started the band 35 years ago and out of friendship they've kept his name.
Final Approach has a loyal complement of fans. "We're here every other week - when they play," said Maytha Kilgore. The ladies in the crowd have one complaint: "Our husbands won't dance," Maytha said. Lael, her husband, agreed. Mostly.
"'S OK," said Alice Berejikien. "I like this kind of music."
And then there are the nondancing opportunities to participate in the fun. Beer pong Tuesday nights at 9 p.m., Open Jam on Thursday nights (check ahead), karaoke Wednesday nights. And Sunday nights, of course, trivia followed by Wii bowling.
The trivia cranks up at 6 p.m. Janice writes the questions, while Dale serves as emcee/referee for what he calls their "full contact trivia contests." He has a point. Last Sunday night Dale decided "whiskey" was an acceptable response to a question whose answer was, in fact, bourbon. In the face of a hail of boos, he quickly recanted.
(More on trivia, including a tale of tears and triumph, to follow.)
To find out the latest on the happenings, drop by www.oasissportsbar.com, or "fan" their Facebook page. Janice tweets@oasissportsbar.
A little history
Dale and Janice had some happy times in the Oasis back when it was owned by Debbie Seavy. When Seavy decided to sell, the Dunnings snapped it up. The two aren't new to business: for 24 years they've owned and operated Wall Street Custom Clothiers on Mercer Island.
The Dunnings are in the process of transitioning to full-time life on the peninsula and the purchase of the Oasis is part of the plan. "Sequim is where my wife and I picked to live and retire," Dale said. They will "wind down" Wall Street or sell it.
When the Dunnings purchased the Oasis, their plan only called for one change: they wanted to enlarge and improve the menu. "Our cook, Janet Siever, is one of the best on the peninsula," Dale said. "We want to let her shine."
And so they have, giving Siever "a lot of leeway" to be creative. The menu has grown, and now includes prime rib specials on Friday night. Dale says the lasagna - his wife's recipe - is another knock-out. And he's very taken with the prime rib dip sandwiches that now are available.
They aren't done yet: "We're always searching for something new," he said.
And now you know ...
So anyway, last Sunday night I returned for trivia night, but this time I brought my peeps with me. And not just any peeps, mind you, but my journalist peeps. (Because, as everyone knows, journalists are experts in everything.)
We scored well on the first category, Vodka, knocking down seven of ten - so to speak - including "bourbon." (Or as we like to say, not whiskey.) Round 2, PBS, we did OK. (Sample: What is the name of the song Mr. Rogers sang at the opening of each show. (Hint: It is not "Bad to the Bone."))
We overthought some of the "Latin phrases," but figured we still held our own.
Round 4, "Modern Birthstones."
But then Pat C., our ringer from special sections, came through. We figured we had it wrapped up.
We figured wrong. We were only tied for the lead and had to face down the reigning champs.
Sudden death. Seven questions, quickly answered.
We went back and forth: They said three, we said four. Point them.
They said tomato, we said tomahto. Point Gazette.
"Where were the 2008 Olympics held?
Them: Beijing. Us: China.
The losing team, which consisted of Byron Washburn, Laura Chance and Keith ("My name is a sentence") Fell, is in the mix every week. Despite their youth, they are awesome trivia players. "You rained on our parade," Laura told me. To help ease the tension, I put on my reporter's cap and asked Laura how it felt to have their spirits crushed.
"I don't think that's how it happened," she said. "I think it was an alleged victory."
And then she said something about whiskey and bourbon. I forget what.
The Oasis Sports Bar & Grill is open daily from 11 a.m. to "at least midnight." It's located in Creamery Square, 301 E. Washington St.
Reach Mark Couhig at email@example.com.