Introducing the Slowdown Lounge: Rush Hour respite at the Walnut Room

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Rush-hour traffic making you nuts? Blood pressure through the roof? Need a place to escape to keep from going Michael Douglas on everyone? The Walnut Room and Paul Riola have teamed up on a new concept to pull your race car out of the red.

For the past year, Paul Riola, multi-instrumentalist and leader of the improvisational group the Bottesini Project, has been honing his electronic chops, focusing more on creating beats and ensemble sounds, with the help of keyboardist Yong Bakos and former Spyro Gyro bassist Kim Stone in his Cellar Door trio.

Riola says around the same time he was looking for a venue to book Cellar Door on a regular basis, he spoke with Randall Frazier, the Walnut Room's talent buyer and sound engineer, and mentioned that he had a downtempo, breakbeat-oriented group that's more like a band trying to come across like a chilled-out DJ set, in the vein of Flying Lotus, Bonobo and Nostalgia 77.

His timing was perfect, evidently. Frazier was looking for exactly that sort of thing to bring in on a regular basis at the Walnut Room. He was looking to create a place for folks to chill after work while waiting for rush-hour traffic to die down. Enter the Slowdown Lounge, which the two will launch on Wednesday, December 1, from 5 to 8 p.m. After another session on December 8, they'll take the rest of December off and then begin doing it every Wednesday starting the first week of January.

The Slowdown Lounge will feature leather couches, dimmed lights and half-priced appetizers, drafts and wine along with $3 well drinks. Added bonus: Rino Supply Company, located next door to the Walnut Room, will offer $3 joints for medical marijuana patients during the Slowdown Lounge.

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