By Christian Thompson
Just off the main drag of 21st Street in downtown Purcellville stands an unassuming barbecue restaurant, where every night of the week it can be counted on to be constantly cooking up something great.
It could be the meats sizzling in the outdoor smokers, their trails of smoke like candles lit for the wayward or the hungry. Or it could be the convivial atmosphere at their softly lit bar, where stories, craft beer, and pours of bourbon are served up every night in equal measure.
But every weekend, you’ll find a more surprising phenomenon cooking up at Monk’s BBQ: live music.
When Monk’s BBQ opened in 2014, blossoming of owner Brian Jenkins successful catering business, the restaurant operated just a few days a week, humbly serving up barbecue staples like brisket, pulled pork, and their now-legendary Bacon on a Stick. In the few years since, he’s expanded indoors and out, and are now serving hungry Loudouners seven days a week.
Although its gastronomic offerings alone could have secured the restaurant its excellent reputation, Jenkins has quickly turned Monk’s into not only one of Purcellville’s most popular restaurants, but also one of the best places in Loudoun to see local musical talent.
Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, you’ll find live music from a slew of genres on display at Monk’s. Genres like reggae, folk, and country-rock can be caught at the restaurant regularly, but Jenkins says that his favorite style of music to feature at Monk’s is bluegrass.
“There’s just a ton of talent to draw from locally,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins isn’t wrong. Swampcandy, the Plank Stompers, and local legends Jake and the Burtones are just a few of the region’s bluegrass bands that pass through Monk’s on a consistent basis.
Josh Cava, guitarist and vocalist of Jake and the Burtones, said that Monk’s is the band’s favorite local venue to perform.
“Brian is always super hospitable to the musicians and the crowd receives us super well. It’s always a party when we play in there,” Cava said. “Not to mention we love the food and the beer.”
Bluegrass couldn’t pair any better than among Monk’s barbecue offerings, locally crewed craft beer and vast bourbon menu. And it’s true what Cava said about the restaurant feeling closer to a party at times. It’s not uncommon to see restaurant-goers put down their meals, pick up a partner, and start dancing to the homegrown tunes.
Ted Garber, who performs at Monk’s every other Thursday night, praised the restaurant’s authenticity, the kindness of its owner, and remarks that being there feels “just like church, but with more drinking.”
Catching Ted Garber, the Burtones, or any of the other local talent at Monk’s on a packed Saturday night can indeed feel like a rapturous experience. It can also feel like Loudoun County at its best: rustic, merry, and cultured.