A Renewed Wave on the Club Scene

You hate to use a word like this too lightly, but it looks like a r-e-n-a-i-s-s-a-n-c-e might be starting in the local club scene--at least the local funky, casual alternative music club scene.

“I don’t know how or why, but it seems to be happening,” said Jack Marquette, who is booking the shows for the newly reopened Al’s Bar in downtown L.A., one of several new or revived clubs that has a stated commitment to cultivating an active local music and art community.

Other clubs include the Gaslight (a self-described “dive” in Hollywood that has flowered lately after a year of hosting rock and acoustic acts), King King (newly opened at 467 S. La Brea Ave.) and the soon-to-debut China Club (at the Argyle and Selma site of the punk-era Cathay De Grande).

Add to the list the always intriguing Lhasaland and the revitalized (i.e., enlarged capacity after hassles with the L.A. city fire authorities were finally resolved) Club Lingerie, and local club life definitely seems to be on the upswing.


Marquette believes this sudden flurry of openings is largely coincidental--Al’s only recently corrected the fire law problems that had kept it shut for more than a year. But, he said, these clubs wouldn’t be in business if the climate wasn’t right.

“The new talent out there is exploding,” he said, comparing the current atmosphere to that of the old punk/new wave days, which produced the likes of the Germs, X, the Blasters and the Go-Gos. “I don’t see any distinct musical directions, but I see a lot of people groping for something. . . . It might be too soon to say, but I do feel a sense of grass-roots emergence like 10 years ago.”

Gaslight manager Doug White has noticed the same thing. “Oh yes, definitely,” he said. “There’s much more of a community now than a year ago.”

Most encouraging--and potentially most exciting--are the informal anything-can-happen nights each club is planning. The Gaslight will continue to hold Tuesday jam nights and casual Sunday programs, while Al’s Bar has reinstated its old notorious Thursday “No Talent” nights.

Meanwhile, Debbie Patino (one of the Ringling Sisters), who until recently had been booking the shows at the Gaslight, plans to continue at other locales the kind of shows she’d been doing ay the Gaslight. Her first priority is the ultra-casual acoustic “Seventh Day” Sunday events she and Katie Childe had established at the Hollywood bar, which for the time being will float from club to club. First up is a show tonight at the Music Machine with Sylvia Juncosa, Mike Martt, the Nymphs and the Screamin’ Sirens, plus a package of underground films. IN MEMORIAM: On Tuesday, Coconut Teaszer in Hollywood will host its second of three memorials for singer Bobbi Bratt, who died of stomach cancer Nov. 30 at age 26. Bratt was considered one of L.A.'s most promising rock/blues/rockabilly artists and was reportedly nearing a major-label deal before she became ill.

Among the bands scheduled to perform are TSOL, Legal Weapon, Kommunity FK, the Shielas and Primal Pet (featuring members of Bratt’s old punk band, Red Scare). Club music booker Len Fagen said also that there may be a red-hot surprise guest band. All proceeds raised that night, including money taken in at the bar and the door, will go toward the considerable medical and funeral expenses incurred by Bratt and her family.

METALLURGY: Album title of the week: “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich,” the Columbia debut from the locally popular hard rock band Warrant. . . . Junkyard is finishing up its Geffen debut with Tom Werman producing. Mixing should be done by February and a spring release is projected. . . . Guitar-synth folk rockers Human Drama, newly signed to RCA, are heading for Great Britain to record its first EP with producer Ian Brody. . . .

More signings: Shark Island to Epic--the Sunset Strip rockers will start recording their first record for the label within a couple of weeks. And CBS has reportedly signed Love/Hate to a six-figure deal. . . .

Cathouse proprietor Riki Rachtman has formed Heart of Chrome, a band featuring himself as lead vocalist. He’s joined in the line-up by Jeff Johnson, former bassist of Nashville’s Jason and the Scorchers.

BUZZWORDS: The Jeff Dahl Group is releasing an album titled “Vomit Wet Kiss” that includes tunes that had been scheduled for its “I Kill Me” album, which was supposed to have come out last year on the now-defunct PVC label. Four of the songs feature former Dead Boy Cheetah Chrome. The group is releasing it on its own Sympathy for the Record Industry label. Dahl, a founder of the speed-metal pioneer Powertrip, also reports that the graphically illustrative T-shirt promoting the EP has already gotten the group banned from several clubs around the country. . . .

Dramarama has regrouped after a brief hiatus and will begin recording a new album next month. Among the tracks slated for the third album by the transplanted Jersey rockers is a cover of Mott the Hoople’s “Wish I Was Your Mother.” . . .

The Clints, four guys who all go by the name of Clint in honor of a certain tough-guy actor and former mayor of Carmel (call them up and they invariably say, “Hello, this is Clint”), makes its album debut March 1 with “No Place Like Home” on Skyclad records. . . .

Local country mainstays Ronnie Mack and Rosie Flores have teamed up to record a single of the old Everly Brothers hit “Brand New Heartache.” The record is out on the independent Lonesome Town Records. Another new country single is “Too Damn Bad” by the Trailer Park Casanovas, produced by “Town South of Bakersfield” organizer Dan Fredman.

Metallurgy was contributed by Janiss Garza.