A possibly apocryphal tale about Little Haiti nightspot Churchill's says that one night an armed man bounded in, demanding everyone at the bar hand over their wallets and valuables, which they reluctantly did. Then he ordered them to lie face down on the floor. That's where the terrified crowd drew the line. They'd relinquish money and jewelry, but stretch out on that filthy floor? No way!
Granted the lovably dingy dive, built in the 1940s, has undergone some renovations in the past few years, perhaps the influence of owner Dave Daniels's trusty partner Mike. Tile, in a practical gray to camouflage dirt, now covers part of the floor. Large TV screens flicker at all hours, broadcasting sports such as rugby and soccer. An attractive Union Jack paint scheme adorns the building's exterior. And the sound, the dreaded ear-splitting sound that drove many a music lover outdoors in order to safeguard what was left of his hearing, has improved considerably too.
But some things just don't change. The parking lot patrolled by the random local bum. The mouthwatering, er, interesting menu offering British delicacies such as shepherd's pie and Scotch eggs. The occasional neighborhood dog or cat, making itself at home on the premises. And the music, so very much of it, every single day. During the more than two decades Daniels has owned the place, it has hosted thousands of local bands (some who have gone on to commercial success and some who don't give a damn) and top-drawer acts like Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys, Rosie Flores, and Quintron.
This Saturday marks Churchill's 23rd Birthday and naturally a hearty celebration, in conjunction with the ongoing monthlong Miami Rock Festival, will ensue. On the bill: acclaimed bluesy multi-instrumentalist Jon Paris, a veteran of stints with Johnny Winter, Link Wray, and Bob Dylan, who will make his Miami dive-bar debut. And local favorite Charlie Pickett, Esq., who will trade his briefcase in favor of his guitar for a night. Ahhh, Churchill's! Give us slightly soiled soul over immaculate anal cleanliness any day.