Lucky Seventh

It's been seven years since musician and bar owner Carl Pacillo, spurned by a deal with the Seminoles gone awry, set up shop in the last refuge he could find, a long, narrow hallway of a space in a strip mall in the middle of industrial Oakland Park. And in those past seven years, Kilmo, as this town knows him, has turned that unlikely, divey space into the last vestige of a dying art scene — where jazz musicians congregate simply because they love playing and those who still appreciate authenticity come to watch the righteous tumult as it smolders like a Florida sunset. His bar, Alligator Alley — our favorite taproom, music hall, and damn fine native kitchen - will celebrate the momentous occasion of seven years in business this weekend by doing what it does best: throwing down a three-day gauntlet of great tunes and finely crafted eats.

No celebration of this caliber would be complete, however, without a little contemplative retrospection. And for the fast-talking, affable Kilmo, examining what seven years in business means to him is easy. "It means I'm two years behind in my five-year plan to get the hell out of this location!" he says with a chuckle. Kilmo hopes to get an investor who isn't just interested on a quick return; but someone who understands the business so he can move the Alley to downtown Fort Lauderdale. In the long term, he'd like to open versions of the Alley in college towns all across Florida. Which isn't to say he's in the biz just to break it big. Kilmo knows it takes passion, and a little big of craziness, to stay alive in this town. "There's great weather here, beautiful beaches, and sports to keep people outside, and casinos that took away 30 percent of the business. And, I hate to put it this way, but it's the apathy capital of the country. It just doesn't make economic sense [to own a bar here]. So the real reason I do this is I have a music habit to support. I just buy in quantity to get mine cheaper."

That yen for real music is what the weekend party will be all about. On Friday night, local bluesman Albert Castiglia will rock out with the Alligator Alley All-Stars (including Kilmo on bass) from 9:30 p.m. till the wee hours. Saturday, the Alley promises "seven bands for seven bucks," including sets from alt-country outfit Black Finger, the Pretty Faces, Robby Hazen, and the Riot. Kilmo will also throw down $3 Cajun sausage sandwiches and drink specials all evening starting at 4 p.m. The celebration wraps up Sunday beginning at 5 p.m. with more from the All-Stars and Castiglia. It's the kind of musical weekend Kilmo got in the business for in the first place. "When people were making sounds banging rods and blowing reeds, they did it because they had to," he philosophizes. "That's my relationship to the world through music."

Find that divey little bar we all love at 1321 E. Commercial Blvd. in Oakland Park. Call 954-772-7474, or visit
June 12-14, 9:30 p.m., 2009

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John Linn