Best Jukebox - 2012
Said to be the oldest commercial building in Houston, La Carafe is encrusted with history, its walls brimming with old photographs, newspaper clippings and other artifacts. The same is true of its jukebox, whose leaves preserve near-forgotten corners of 20th-century pop music like doo-wop (the Platters, the Ink Spots) and European chanteuses (Edith Piaf) all the way up until the Cowboy Junkies' 1988 album The Trinity Session. Within its leaves, Bob Seger's Beautiful Loser sits next to Ella Fitzgerald singing the Cole Porter songbook, and crooners Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett and Bobby Darin jockey for position with rowdier neighbors such as the Stooges and the Jam. Weighted with local anchors like Lightnin' Hopkins, Townes Van Zandt and Archie Bell & the Drells, it really is a jukebox for any mood, where Carole King's Tapestry or Peggy Lee's Greatest Hits might be easy-listening appetizer for a blues-funk meal of Johnny "Guitar" Watson and Albert Collins. Or just play Springsteen, Creedence and Hank Williams all night long.