Bluegrass and baby bottles at H Street’s SOVA bar

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SOVA wine and coffee bar seems an unlikely place for banjos and fiddles. The old velvet couches that line the barroom are far more Central Perk than Hee-Haw. The H Street hipster crowd isn’t exactly hayseed, either.

2012_10_005 Photo: Patra Wroten

Despite that, the Thursday night bluegrass jams the bar hosts are growing in popularity. What started as a fluke a few years ago when a friend of bar owner Frank Hankins suggested some live twangy tunes has turned SOVA into a destination for bluegrass music fans. No one is more surprised about it than Hankins.

“I never imagined that bluegrass would become such a draw,” Hankins said. “From that first night the word spread. Now people come from all over the city, not just the H Street neighborhood.”

2012_10_005 Photo: Patra Wroten

Like the unique neighborhood it serves, SOVA has many personalities, and is in no rush to define itself as a niche place. It’s the evolution of H street, says Hankins, that is steering his bar. When customers asked for the regular bluegrass, Hankins delivered it.

When a Capitol Hill mom’s group asked if Hankins could trade beer bottles for baby bottles, he did that, too. That’s why on some afternoons at a Boogie Baby event you will find toddlers crawling on those big, velvet couches.

“No one could imagine five years ago that H Street would become what ‘H Street’ is today,” said Hankins, “so whether we’re providing unique music or a meeting space for moms, we’re just happy to be part of this community.”

Bluegrass bands play every Thursday night at SOVA. Check its website for details on bands and times.

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