ROCKTALK : Club Owners Searching for Ways to Fill Week : An Acoustic Songwriter’s Showcase at Nicholby’s is the latest attempt at attracting an audience.
If the week was only two days long, club owners would be relieved of trying to figure out what to do the other five days. If they have even the slightest clue, they can usually make their rent off the Friday and Saturday night crowds.
After that, it’s time to get creative. A lot of times the answer ends up being blues, reggae or even the dreaded karaoke--stuff that won’t work on Friday or Saturday. DJs, drink specials, piano bars, country dance night, “Monday Night Football,” wet T-shirt night, cheap happy hour food--the search goes on and on. Nothing seems to last too long. In Ventura, the same six or eight bands seem to play every weekend while the other hundred bands don’t.
“It’s a tough call on the weeknights,” said Nick Taylor of Nicholby’s in Ventura, rapidly becoming a happening venue. “You keep trying to find something that will work. We seem to have been pretty lucky with the Blue Monday shows. But other than that, it’s tough.”
Next victim to the Altar of Eternal Optimism will be an Acoustic Songwriter’s Showcase tonight at Nicholby’s. Promoter Jimmy Adams, a folk singer who also plays with the Fender Benders, hopes to do a showcase a month.
“I think it’ll probably be 90% original music,” said Adams, “but we won’t say anything if someone plays a cover song. I was going to do this before, and we had Chris Hillman all set to play, but something came up. We’ve been a little less ambitious this time, but we’re going to have Roy and Daphne Jones from House of Games, some members of Babylon Sister, plus some of my friends, Steve Baker and Mary Wilson. Murray Bowes is going to bring some of his friends. I think it might be pretty good; there’s flyers all over town, and there’s no cover charge.”
Hey, how about Free Beer Night? That’d work.
While in the Vacillating Venue Department: If you’re one of the few people in the ‘90s for whom the Lion I’s song, “I’m So Poor” is not your theme song, then walk, don’t run, to the nearest telephone and call 969-5768. You could rent or lease the old Midnight Hour building on West Main in Ventura. It’s newly repainted and stands emptier than my old girlfriend’s heart.
Down the road apiece, just across from Burger King, is the future home of Two West on Main Street at Ventura Avenue. Long thought to be the next pile of rubble after any magnitude earthquake, the brick building has been reinforced and, hopefully by mid-September, will be the new and happening rock ‘n’ roll venue. To blame are relocated El Alien photographer Dave Paglia and his girlfriend Martha Davis, who used to front those New Wave faves, the Motels.
“The place is going to be wonderful,” said Davis. “Right now, we’re doing the permit thing with the city. We’re looking at a juice and sandwich bar, coffee shop and art gallery.”
Davis and three others--one of which is Erik Lemaire of Aerial--have an as-yet-unnamed band that will probably play the opening of the venue.
Further down the road apiece, the local rock night at Metro Bay Club on Wednesdays has been replaced by DJs. Two blocks farther south, Lipstix, once the Bermuda Triangle, has either gone or discovered a unique marketing strategy by staying closed on Friday nights. The phone has been disconnected, never a good sign. Lipstix had occasional live performances on weekends.
There may be no Farmer John or Easter Bunny but there is an Eric in Eric Ericsson’s in Ventura, the place on the beach that rocks on weekends. Eric Wachter is also going to run the pier restaurant and the old Charlie’s site, which will become Pineapples, a restaurant that will rock about as much as your granny’s house. The opening for Pineapples will be March, ’95. And the pier restaurant will open in summer of ’95. Look for the Tijuana Hound Dogs, acoustic music by Chris Byrd and Frank Barajas, to play at the pier venue.
Remember the good ol’ days at Charlie’s on Mondays? First Matt & Bill would make people forget how to spell Everly Brothers with their soaring harmonies during happy hour. Then either Durango 95 or Michael On Fire would play in the evening. MOF, relocated to Nashville, has for the last few years been on that endless road trip but will be heading back to California soon for some L.A. gigs. The one that matters to us: Aug. 26 at Underground in Santa Barbara. “Venus In The Daytime” is MOF’s third CD. Michael has doubled the size of the band to six, adding another drummer, a bass player and a sax player. He even finally recorded one of his show stoppers as well: “I Think I Came Too Late To The Party.” Call 1-800-626-4304 for a CD.
Don’t you just hate it when some rock star gives you the ol’ “Howzit goin’ Venchura” routine and asks you to clap your hands? Anyway, Harry Connick Jr. did tell me to clap my hands, and of course, I ignored him. He otherwise seemed genuinely on a roll the other night at the Santa Barbara County Bowl, dispensing with the Usual Cliche Festival. His funniest line had to do with a dead girlfriend song, “St. James Infirmary,” a tune you probably won’t hear while you’re on hold with Blue Cross. Right at the quietest, saddest point of the song, three women in the back somewhere screamed in unison, “We love you, Harry.”
“Not now, baby, I’m dyin’ ” said Connick without missing a lick.