Murphy's Country Palace has traded in its twang for Top 40 and changed its name in the process. The country music bastion in Rosedale, which closed last month, reopened a couple of weeks ago as a more mainstream nightclub with the generic name Nitelife.
If the identity switch comes as something of a surprise, it's all the more so when you recall that just last summer Murphy's Country Palace was one of two Maryland clubs recommended in a book titled "Travelin' Country: A Guide to Country Music Fun."
The reason for the switcheroo comes down to the owners' feeling that there are more wannabe Madonnas than coal miners' daughters out there.
"After seven years of country music five nights a week, I was ready for a change," says Mike Murphy, who co-owns the establishment with his father. The long-standing country-and-western format had a faithful following, he adds, but it is a smaller proportion of the population than those who like to hear Top 40 bands.
So although the big blue neon sign announcing "Murphy's" will remain outside the building, the club name and image otherwise are different. Inside, the five bars have been consolidated into three, genteel colors like mauve have been introduced, and the cafeteria-style rows of tables are now clustered in nightclub fashion.
Musically, the songs are different but the stage remains the same. And it's a 30-by-12-foot space that would be the envy of many other clubs. Guitarists and drummers can flail away up there without fear of unintentionally knocking out their band mates.
Live Top 40 bands are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Tiffany, playing tonight and Saturday, has a lot of dates on the calendar, and Great Train Robbery is also expected to be a regular. There will be a smattering of classic rock bands, too, and even a little Southern rock by way of acknowledging the country echoes still vibrating in this place's walls.
Mr. Murphy says he also is considering booking some of the national acts who are no longer being booked by the financially strapped eastside rock palace Steeltown.
Also of note at Nitelife is a Thursday ladies night with a DJ on duty and two-for-one drinks for both genders. Although last week's ladies night was depressingly underpopulated, it seems likely the Halloween contest slated for Oct. 31 will pull a crowd.
Where: 7916 Pulaski Highway, Rosedale.
Hours: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesdays to Sundays.
Menu: Snacks; a light-fare menu will be available in a few weeks.
Credit cards: Not accepted.