Skully's celebrates 10-year anniversary

Chris DeVille, Columbus Alive

To gain an appreciation for how long Skully's Music Diner has been at the epicenter of Columbus music, simply attempt to count the venues that have opened, closed or changed hands since Earl "Skully" Webb took over the vacant Short North nightclub in fall 2001. You will run out of fingers many times over.

A decade is a lifetime in the live music business, but Skully's has managed to remain a central part of the Columbus entertainment landscape from its inception. This week, the bar will spend four nights celebrating that endurance.

"I wanted to have four different nights to kind of sample what we've been doing for the past 10 years," Webb said.

A big part of Skully's success is its ability to be everything to everyone, and this weekend's lineup reflects that, beginning with the recently '90s-infused dance party Ladies' 80s, Skully's signature event from the start.

Friday brings Too $hort, one of many big-name rappers to stalk the Skully's stage over the years. Saturday rounds up 10 local acts from across the spectrum. Sunday features two shows: an appearance by nationally respected jam band Rusted Root and the weekly reggae night with The Flex Crew.

"If you look in the big picture, five different events, five different crowds - it sort of gives a big picture of what we've done in 10 years," Webb said.

Webb's local history stretches back much further than that. In the late '90s, he was manager and DJ at Mean Mr. Mustard's, a prominent dance club in the South Campus area. In 1994, he opened Skully's Bar and Grill, a bar, restaurant and pool hall. He said the joint was more upscale than most of the dingy South Campus bars of the era.

"I wanted to have something nice as my first business," Webb said. "I didn't want to just start another beer dive."

That business lasted until 2002, when the last of the South Campus bars were chased out by Ohio State's South Campus Gateway construction project. By then, knowing that his days were numbered on South Campus, Webb had already opened Skully's Music Diner in the space that formerly housed Skankland and The Clique.

In the intervening decade, Skully's has become arguably the go-to venue for major local music events, dance nights and a wide spectrum of midsized touring acts. Indie rock, rap, punk, metal, jam bands and folk all echo through the 6,000-square-foot space.

Skully's has benefited from being one of the only music venues of its size, especially since nearby Little Brother's closed in 2007. Webb cited other keys to success, including a dedicated staff, consistent renovations, healthy pay for performers and the perseverance of his wife, Michele.

"She's always on it in the office work, the things that when you want to have fun it could drag you down," Webb said. "My wife makes it fun for me and for everybody else."

Skully's 10-Year Anniversary Weekend schedule

Thursday, Nov. 10: Ladies' 80s/Retro Party Blowout, 10 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 11: Too $hort with C10, Cali Kid Dubz, Flam Feeva, 9 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 12: 10 Years/10 Bands with The Town Monster, Illogic, Zero Star, Path, Stretch Lefty, Energy Clinic, Lionel the Jailbird, 99 Problems, She Might Bite, Harboring Ghosts, 8 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 13 (early show): Rusted Root with The Floorwalkers, 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 13 (late show): The Flex Crew, 10 p.m.


Thursday, Nov. 10-Sunday, Nov. 13

1151 N. High St., Short North