If you know American roots music, you probably know Tim O’Brien. This influential bluegrass picker and producer has released dozens of albums as a solo act and with bands, including the Grammy-winning Earls of Leicester. He’s also a proud Wheeling native and offers up his idea of a perfect day in his hometown.
WHEELING SUSPENSION BRIDGE
I’d walk out onto the suspension bridge from Main Street and look down at the river barges and back at the Capitol Theater. I often imagine my great-grandfather Thomas O’Brien walking out on that same bridge soon after he arrived in Wheeling from Ireland in 1851. I wrote a song called “Where the River Meets the Road,” about the old Cumberland Road, the B&O Railroad, and my grandfather’s start in Wheeling. Lots of water under that bridge since then!
For lunch I’d hit the Centre Market (2200 Market Street) for a fish sandwich and some clam chowder at Coleman’s Fish Market. After lunch I’d check the local artist gallery on the market’s north side, then go to the one-of-a-kind Paradox Bookstore. If you go, tell the proprietor, Tom Stobart, I said hello. He opened the store as a teenager and I met him when we both acted in local productions at the Towngate Theater just a block north.
For dinner, I’d head to Figaretti’s Restaurant (1035 Mount DeChantal Road). My parents often took the family there in its original Elm Grove location and then at the current location. I went to grade school with Frank Figaretti, and I recently discovered my Nashville grocery store sells Figaretti’s tomato sauce. They serve great steaks and pasta, but my favorite thing is their jukebox. I’d punch up “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes” by everybody’s favorite upper Ohio Valley Italian, Dean Martin.