“There are some of us who have been friends since 1990,” Palmer said. “Our kids are friends. Our families celebrate holidays together and it is all because we met there.” Those old friends will be together again this weekend. Palmer, Wolfe and Tony Wilson have organized a Phone 3 Reunion, which will take place at the Bluegrass Barrel House in Richmond. The event is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday and feature around a dozen bands, some of which used to played at the intimate nightclub, which was located on North First Street in Richmond.
During the numerous evenings they spent watching bands perform at the Phone 3 Lounge in downtown Richmond, Becca Palmer, LeAnne Wolfe, and a large number of other people developed lifelong friendships. It was a little bar, but Palmer believes that because of its size and capacity, individuals were more likely to interact with one another there. “You socialised.” Even when the pub where they used to hang out closed its doors permanently, those relationships continue to play a significant role in people’s lives.
All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Richmond Area Arts Council’s Youth Music Program. “We are of the firm belief that if you play great music, people will show up,” Palmer said. Palmer had organized small, ‘low-key’ reunions in the past, but believed this was the moment to do something much bigger. “Several of our friends (have passed away) in the past few years. So, we kind of felt like it we don’t start getting together now; we might not be able to really get together again,” Palmer said.
During the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, the Phone 3 Lounge played host to a long list of local, regional and nationally-known artists. Firehouse, Helix, Lillan Axe, Sweet FA, Supafuzz, Tangent, Mojo Filter Kings, Tuff and Exile were among the bands which played at the bar, along with Jake E. Lee, who was a guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne.
As support for the reunion started to build — especially on The Phone 3 Lounge’s Facebook page, which has more than 1,000 members — the group needed to find a venue for the event. They found a place which, in many ways, reminded them of their old hangout. “I started reaching out to different bar owners and people with event spaces and Raela Phoenix with the Bluegrass Barrel House has been fantastic,” Palmer said. “She’s not taking any profit from the ticket sales. She really helped us with the process.”
Barrett and Mandala have reunited for the reunion and will take the stage on Friday night. Over the two days, the event is set to feature more than 14 hours of music on two stages. Steve Johnson of the band Fire Department, which played at Phone 3, is the host for both days. The BBH is also set to serve up Long Island Iced Tea based on the original recipe from the Phone 3. The Mighty 99’s and Wicked Sensation are also scheduled to play on Friday. On Saturday, Full Circle Mafia will take the stage, along with Jack Smith and Stoner Boone. The headliner on the final night will be Rock of Ages, a popular 80s tribute band which plays events all across the region.