The four oldest children of legendary Top Hat bar owner Steve Garr, from left, Heidi, Nicole, Greta and Nate, spoke about their late father and about the future of the Missoula landmark Tuesday afternoon at the bar. Photo by MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian
The Top Hat has always been a place of many faces. To some, the bar on Front Street has been a low-key daytime hangout, a place where the conversation flows like slowly poured beer and where you're perfectly welcome to light up a cigarette if you so please. Later at night, it's been a place where a somewhat younger crowd gathered to play pool and listen to local jam-rock bands, bluegrass ensembles or the occasional touring act.
Whatever was happening on a given night, the crowd at the Top Hat was never homogenous. Rather, it encompassed every walk of Montana life: barely legal drinkers playing pool with grizzled bikers; young professionals and dreadlocked hippies swing-dancing on the dance floor.
It is a place where the walls themselves are lined with memories of the diverse faces that have passed through. Photos of old blues musicians - some of whom count among the most respected and famous in America - share space with bass drum heads donated by rock bands that few people ever heard of in the first place (any Nite Snackr fans still out there?).
But when all was said and done, those many faces were, in a way, simply a reflection of the man who owned and operated the Top Hat these past 21 years: Steve Garr....
.....“The bottom line is that this is just about as heartbreaking as you can imagine for us,”
Steve's son says. “It's our dad.”
Read the rest of the original story about Steve Garr and the Top Hat on Missoulian.com.
A potluck celebration of Steve Garr's life will be held at the Top Hat this Saturday from 1 to 11 p.m. The event will serve as a fundraiser for Garr's medical expenses. The event is open to the public, and musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments.
Pinegrass will play a few sets Saturday, February 7, at 6:30 pm. Richie Reinholdt will join them.
Note: Pinegrass played every Tues night at the "Hat" for about 20 years. We hope this in not the end of an era.