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Say yes to NODA nightlife 

Budding arts district offers plenty to keep you entertained

Last weekend, my uptown girls opted to venture a few blocks out of Uptown to NoDa, Charlotte's established, yet continually budding, Historic Arts District. But turns out, it's also a party district with a budding nightlife. We made our own little NoDa bar crawl, starting with dinner at Solstice Tavern. The place was packed with the artsy-types who made the laid-back semi-sports bar atmosphere a nice change of pace from the roaring Uptown scene.

Next on our makeshift bar crawl agenda was Moon Dog Pizza, previously home to the novel Mellow Mushroom. Sadly, Moon Dog didn't have the same mellow-mood-making ambiance as Mellow Mushroom, but I got over it when I realized they still have the same 59 beers on tap.

We then strutted our stuff over to The Evening Muse. The Muse is a small venue that's akin to a listening room (think more seating, less standing) thus a haunt for true live music lovers. The early-evening line-up included Mel Washington from Charleston, S.C., and The Treasury from Asheville. We were impressed by the catchy songwriting skills, stage presence and energy of The Treasury. The band's sound is "new wave modern psychedelic," which makes you feel whirled between a blend of the 1960s and current day. Judging by the reaction of the multi-generational crowd, The Treasury is on its way, starting with a U.S. tour in July and perhaps followed by a gig at the arena or amphitheater -- yep, they were that good.

After satiating our musical appetites, we fulfilled our late-night appetites at The Sanctuary, located smack-dab in the middle of Boudreaux's Louisiana Kitchen and the Neighborhood Theatre (where sounds of Larry Keel and Natural Bridge wafted from inside). We felt like tourists in a bar where everyone knew everyone's name (except ours), but that's irrelevant in a hippie hood like NoDa. They still rolled the welcome mat out for us everywhere we went; by the end of the night I had 20 new, open-minded, eccentric buddies.

When walking back to our car, we stumbled upon an impromptu performance by The Treasury band member, Clay Blair. He busted out an acoustic guitar on the corner of Davidson and 36th that had us dancing in the streets.

We didn't make it far on our make-shift NoDa crawl; we bypassed Cabo Fish Taco, The Dog Bar, Dolce Vita Wine Bar, Wine Up and the random party in the backyard of the retail store Rat's Nest. But NoDa has their own crawl -- on the first and third Friday of every month they have a Gallery Crawl where you fuel up on wine and travel from gallery to gallery.

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