Need a change of pace? Try Cowboy Monkey

By Christina Peluso

After living in Champaign for a year or two, things can start to get monotonous. Same friends, same bars, nothing seems to change. Every weekend everyone hangs out at their apartments and then heads to whatever bar they fancy. Green Street or Daniel Street; it’s all pretty much the same. So what is a fun loving twenty-something supposed to do when things get boring? Find the new hot spot or the diamond in the rough that’s just starting to make a name for itself.

For those of you looking for the next big thing, stop. Cowboy Monkey is the place to go. Located at 6 Taylor St., Cowboy Monkey is tucked just off of Neil Street in the middle of downtown Champaign and is just waiting for you to make it your new weekend home.

Cowboy Monkey, unlike most bars in the area, offers live entertainment every night of the week and is a great place for those suffering from monotony to find some excitement. From jazz to reggae to punk, this bar offers variety.

Ward Gollings, the entertainment manager of the bar, books acts from all over the country. Gollings said he receives calls and e-mails from numerous bands and then weeds through them to find the ones he likes. He said he also seeks out bands that he knows are touring or ones he thinks will draw a good crowd.

Gollings said he looks at all types of groups because they want to appeal to all types of people. While most acts are rock bands, he does try to schedule other types of music so everyone will feel welcome.

“We want everyone to feel welcome and for everyone to take in the live entertainment, food, beverages and atmosphere we try to offer,” he said.

Owner Carlos Nieto also echoed the same sentiments.

“We’re trying to appeal to as wide of a variety of clientele as possible,” he said.

Nieto said the bar covers more facets of entertainment than most other bars in the area. Besides drinks, Cowboy Monkey has a kitchen that serves food early in the night. It also has a beer garden, which Nieto says “is arguably the best beer garden in downtown.”

But Cowboy Monkey’s main attraction is the music.

“First and foremost we’re a live music venue,” Nieto said. “I think art and music improves the quality of life. In order to have a thriving community you need art. That’s what separates us from other communities,” he said.

Nieto said supporting the local art and music scene is very important to him and his business partners.

Luckily, local groups seem to like him too. Bar Manager Corey Addison says many local musicians say Cowboy Monkey is their favorite local venue to play because of its size, which is smaller than most other music venues in the area.

“It’s a lot more intimate,” he said.

But more than anything, Cowboy Monkey is set apart by its diversity. From tango lessons to bluegrass, this bar is changing every night it’s open. And Nieto says this eclectic attitude is what makes this bar unique.

“I like a wide variety of things and I think this bar shows it,” he said. “I don’t like to be categorized. We try to keep things fresh and exciting.”