Phantom Clubville While I left Tasty World on 14 July after 5 years, 10 months and 6 days of continuous employment, I've decided I'm still an active enough observer and fully qualified to comment like I always did before. I never talked about every little thing before so there's no reason why this change of format should be very noticeable in style. I typically only go out once, sometimes twice a week (and I enjoy the change), I do turn up when something noteworthy happens and even sometimes when there's nothing special. You'll see more.
Threat Like in its ancient namesake, democracy on the local level is prone to failure in Athens. There is now a majority of commissioners ready to vote for a countywide smoking ban which will also go one further with a prohibition on smoking within 20 feet of any business entrance. You can easily imagine the impact this will have on the bar and club business. Athens may be a very different place by the beginning of football season.
Thumbs Down Tasty World's new neighbor, 346 (in the old One Love location), had its gala grand opening tonight, drawing a crowd of curiosity-seekers and hangers-on with great fanfare. Anxious to experience it firsthand, two of our door guys went in together to each get a shot of Jack Daniel's. I'm told the shots themselves were considerably smaller than the standard 1.25 ounces each and also cost $11 for the pair. Another of our doormen went in and got a "really watered-down" Jack and Coke for $6.50. Basically this means the club is charging not simply Atlanta prices but Atlanta strip club prices, which would make no obvious economic sense on our block at all. Another curious development is that tonight, of all occasions, we were visited by two representatives of the fire marshall's office. Some speculated that they were supposed to check out the new place but went to the wrong one, with some venturing farther to say that this may have been deliberately mistaken. I don't know for a fact but if that is the case then two things are amiss: these men I saw did not communicate at all with the several police officers in front of the new place (in very plain sight, which proves Clarke County has learned nothing from 9/11) and they also never asked me any questions about how many people I counted coming in. I may attempt to call the fire marshall's office on Monday and ask if they meant to go to the new place. They'll have to tell me yes or no. Someone else I spoke to said the place resembled "an 80's coke bar," which seems pretty close to all the other anecdotal evidence I'd heard. It also makes me wonder how that relates to the pricing structure at the bar. This place is reputed to be a new attempt at a "techno club," which raises doubts in my mind because such a thing has never succeeded here before and now is really not the time to try it. This I say independently of the fact that I attempted for over a decade to get the industrial/techno ball rolling for Athens music and it never happened. We must remember that this is a first night's impression and we still haven't seen its first Saturday night. I'll give the place a fair shake but I already know I have no reason at all to get a drink in there and, frankly, I haven't missed being next door to another club since One Love folded. I haven't missed directing traffic for dozens of people who can't read a sign in front of a door identifying which club they're at versus the one they want to go to, let alone all those people who really don't know what they're coming out for, only that they're meeting friends of similar faculty at whatever place.
Lunch Paper correction I should have corrected this sooner. The occasion mentioned in the last post was actually just the last rock show scheduled at the old Lunch Paper location. It's still open, pending Monty's move to the new location. Just so everyone knows.
The Lunch Paper The Lunch Paper had its last night open at the old space Saturday. Soon it will open up in the "old" half of the space that was the Engine Room. Work will begin shortly on renovations for Big Shot, the new bar to fill the space LP is vacating, named for the record store that once occupied the same space and also under the management of Mike Church. Between work and knowing how crowded the LP would be at a late hour, I didn't go. I'm told it was fun for the people playing the show and whoever was lucky enough to have a comfortable seat.
Foxz I never corrected my January post. Foxz remains open, although the building remains decrepit.
No Incentive This weekend is the annual Athens Human Rights Festival, an event I once looked forward to all year and which I could really care less about these days. I could go on about its failings but I think a critical read through their website will suffice for most readers. I don't have to work tonight because, at Tasty World, the event is a "charity battle of the bands" event, with benefit organizers taking money themselves. This suits me just fine. My only real reason to go out tonight would have been to see Sci-Fu but it's too late now. Guess who's coming back to speak at the festival tomorrow? Lynne Russell, again talking about the great dangers of the Patriot Act and all the bad things in the act that could happen to ordinary Americans but generally haven't. Should I go now that I can actually listen to her speak? Maybe, but if I'm in town at all tomorrow it should be for the UGA baseball game, one of the last chances this season of catching a home game.
The Worst Week of the Year It was bad enough waiting the last three days for Bluegrass Wednesday and therefore the beginning of my workweek but I just got an announcement that there would be no stage band for Bluegrass Wednesday this week, just like last week, so I just have to see if anyone comes for the late show. To make matters worse, Jack Logan has apparently backed out of the benefit on Friday and Saturday is the Human Rights Festival's "Battle of the Bands" event, where assorted loser bands compete for their chance to play for free at the HRF proper. This is of course the week going into Easter as well, which means I can forget about making a dime all week.
Levinhurst Lol Tolhurst's new band Levinhurst played upstairs at Tasty World, their third show ever following a debut in Los Angeles and a second performance at the recent SXSW showcase in Austin. Today is also the official CD release. Tolhurst is best known as the original drummer for the Cure, and as a surprise the last song of the set was a version of "The Forest."
The Daisy Group Last night was the big reunion show of the Daisy group at the 40 Watt, meaningful to those of us who were on the scene in the early 90's and integral to the original Clubville fax newsletter, in fact. I don't know what I can really say about it to the unfamiliar except that it was as much about the reunion as the music last night and it was worth braving inclement weather to be there. Best of all, it was free to everyone. Supposedly the band has new material and will be playing more in the future.
Lynne Russell Saturday night was the big "Freedom Train" anti-Patriot Act rally put on by ACLU-UGA and former mayoral candidate Eric Krasle, featuring former CNN anchor Lynne Russell. We were looking forward to meeting her, more than we usually do for rock acts coming through. That is to say, we thought we had something to look forward to. Actual, verbatim quote from an ACLU-UGA handler to Ms. Russell upon her arrival: "it's kind of casual; I apologize." This was to be the first indication of how Ms. Russell's visit would play out. I tried to listen when she was speaking but between a noisy 50th birthday party upstairs, volunteers crowding me at the door, talking, pool playing and a certain drummer trying to find drugs, I couldn't really hear what Ms. Russell had to say. When she was done, she was gone within 15 minutes. Gone. She never spoke to any of us. Never thanked us for the venue. Ms. Russell is apparently too good for any of that or for any of us little people. All that talk about privacy rights and dangers to freedom, and she's an elitist of the worst kind. She can stay gone as far as I'm concerned.
Song of the Year See my Lesterblog post to find my choice of the song of the year, in terms of what was meaningful to me personally.
To the Ages Allen's, Foxz and the Engine Room all closed at the end of the year. Allen's and Foxz closed mainly because the decrepit building has been sold and will be torn down to make way for a new Indian restaurant. I'm not sure of the exact reasons why the Engine Room closed, which was unannounced until after Christmas, but it clearly wasn't the most effectively managed bar in town. Now all the regulars of these establishments are displaced and forced to decide on new hangouts. Someone needs to cater to the Foxz karaoke crowd.
Disgust That feeling is why I've waited so long to post the story of my show with Hasil Adkins two weeks ago. We were expecting our set to be last because Hasil wanted to be the first of the late night acts after the Wednesday night bluegrass format. Then it gets to be midnight and there's no Hasil and there's no Jim, his handler and promoter, so Lust goes ahead and plays a full-length set from midnight to about 12:45 (they were supposed to play in the middle and for about 30 minutes). Right about then Hasil and Jim finally show up and Hasil says he wants to go last after all, so Rob and I (joined by Asa on one song) do our set from about 1 to 1:30 am (remember that we have to stop serving at 2 am). Hasil then wastes another 20 minutes before finally getting around to playing. By now many of the paid patrons have left in disgust. Hasil plays something like 17 minutes, includes absolutely nothing recognizable in the set and sounds terrible. The Legendary Stardust Cowboy would have come across like Elvis in comparison to what Hasil put us through. I wish I knew exactly how to spell Jim's last name so I could post it and tell everyone to never allow him to book anybody anywhere. Supposedly he was sharing the burden of the (stupid) $1000 guarantee for Hasil with Murphy, yet he brings a list with 20+ names on it and does nothing to make the show go any smoother. I really expected more from him. Murphy has promised that Hasil will never play Tasty World again. I recommend against wasting your time and money seeing him anywhere else. You'll find the novelty will quickly fade. Again, I did my part. I didn't worry about how our set would go and it went just fine. My only disappointment was the absence of many people I fully expected to be there, but even that isn't important. I'm back on the scene and I intend to continue recording and playing my own way. It works, it's worth something and, as it turns out, it's at least as good as certain overpriced old coots.
Over We have endured the last home football game weekend of the year. Aside from the relief, there was also the realization this would be our last big money weekend for several months to come. I doubt any of us will make much of anything beyond Thanksgiving but this time I'm not hurting for it.
Release Here's where you can download the new promo single, "Almost Like Another Day," in lo-fi mp3 and RealAudio formats.
Stage The good news is I'm back on stage after two and a half years away, performing "A Very Lester Xmas" Wednesday 17 December. None other than Hasil Adkins is opening for me. The bad news is Hasil expects his same guarantee and anyone coming to see me play on stage will be forced to pay something like $7 to get in. Odds are I won't make a dime.
Disclaimer For any of you who may happen across the show at Tasty World Monday night, please be advised that any opinions expressed at this "Stop Bush" event most certainly do not reflect my views as a member of the TW staff nor does the show in any way constitute an endorsement on my part of any stated purposes said event may claim to serve. In other words, if we don't have a private party upstairs (and I really don't know if we do), don't pay the cover for the downstairs show. Come upstairs and enjoy a regular bar and different company. I will be there.
The Limit Boobutante, the Halloween event we hosted again this year at Tasty World, was a fantastic success for the cause, improving yet again on the previous year's record. Because someone from the office of the fire marshall (who were thankfully absent Friday night) might happen across this blog, I will not quote numbers, but the work experience on my part was pretty close to my limits as one person against an oblivious throng of people, as I had to catch people and collect their cover before letting them go either upstairs or downstairs, which is already difficult to do on a wide patio. Correcting my last post, it was in fact $5 ($7 for people under 21 years of age) to get in, which is good because making change was bad enough, aggravated by the number of items I had to balance in two hands. Hand counters quickly became the afterthought. This is one of three very large, free-flow events we have each year, with the other two being the weekend of AthFest. The Boybutante AIDS Foundation is the single best charity organization I've ever witness grow and develop. From one simple ball in 1989 to a full year of scheduled events, this charity has succeeded far beyond any possible limits the public sector could ever offer. Once again, real people and private money make a big difference. I'm very proud of the help I've provided them.
Stupidity The consolidated People's Republic of Athens-Clarke County has, through the office of Fire Marshall Johnny Pritchett, caused me undue stress at the club the last few nights by saying we would be visited at Tasty World during a very busy Homecoming weekend. While they never showed, I still was made to sit and keep up with two hand counters "for show" so we could demonstrate that we weren't over the official capacity. What's stupid about this is that I can just as easily lie with hand counters as I can with just my word, and my word is all anyone should ever need if they want to know how many people are in the building at any time. It's not hard to divide what money I have by the cover, keep up with guests and have a reasonably accurate idea of how many people have rotated out at the same time. I may have a stupid job but you can't let just any fool do it. To make matters worse, this is the same department that actually issued a capacity notice to a certain 10,000 square foot business estimating they can hold all of 50 people, while a certain other bar that's closer to 200 sf got rated for 63. A-CC governemment has long proven that UGA has no monopoly on corruption and incompetence but lately matters continue to get absurdly worse. I bet I see Pritchett on Halloween during Boobutante when I'll have my hands full taking and making change for an $8 cover for both floors of the building, all the while making sure people don't rush past me on the patio and somehow balancing these stupid hand counters at the same time, on our busiest night since AthFest. Never mind that we have all the exits, sprinklers and fire-retardant-coated surfaces we could ever need to get people out safely in the unlikely event of a real fire. This has nothing to do with public safety. It's a corrupt local government fishing for more revenue from its already overtaxed benefactors, the businesses of Athens. Of course these dixiecrats are oblivious to the experiences of the state of California and the city of Atlanta. At some point businesses will be ruined and therefore unable to pay a dime in future taxes, which is exactly the stupidity of liberal economics.
Dancin' Fool We frequently find our biggest draws at Tasty World tend to be novelty acts, and this past Saturday night was no exception as we nearly sold out for Jesco White, the Dancing Outlaw. Basically he did a little tap dancing (not very well) and lip-synched (also very badly) for a total performance time of well under 30 minutes, a ripoff at $6 but at least not the total fraud of $15 it was in Atlanta the previous night. Apparently this is one of those mentally-challenged acts who doesn't get the joke everyone else is in on. At least Wesley Willis was a creative talent and a true performer.
Five Years Whether it's good or bad, right or wrong, wise or not, today makes 5 years of continuous employment at Tasty World. I don't know that it warrants a celebration but there may be one anyway. At least it'll be easy on my senses tonight as we have Ralph Roddenberry on the bill along with Donna Hopkins.
Nik Turner Saturday night we were lucky enough to have a real "somebody" on the bill, Hawkwind co-founder Nik Turner, backed by Atlanta's Space Seed. He told us the story about when Lemmy Kilmister (better known for Motorhead) was fired from Hawkwind, which I can't do justice here because I may not have caught every detail. Basically the whole band had decided to fire Lemmy but it fell on Turner to break the news, which is contrary to what Lemmy writes in his autobiography. We talked more about how Lemmy keeps up this image and lifestyle that makes him a hero to so many, despite the toll it takes on his health at his age, and I'm not sure if I want to be pushing myself that hard when I'm in my 50's. I don't really like to push very hard now. I think I'd rather be like Turner is now, healthy, happy and still playing music for a living. I ought to say more but there was a major party last night and I don't have all my wits sharpened yet...
Pointless Front Pages I changed the exact link for Tasty World because, speaking for myself, I absolutely hate when web sites have a front page that says nothing else but "click here to enter." How stupid is that? For your convenience, one click will get you right to the business side of the Tasty World site.
A Call for Help Get this: early tonight, from 6:30 to 9, I'm working a double lesbian acousic show, upstairs at TW, completely unadvertised and asking $8 at the door. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those things besides the unadvertised part, but I would greatly appreciate it if someone could come by and bring something that might spell relief...
Football Season in Athens This past weekend we had the first home game for UGA and the masses that come out for it. Once again we deal with hordes of people drawn not by the celebrated culture, arts of history of Athens but by football. Though a throwaway game, we still had the full experience in the club business along with clear and irrefutable evidence that anyone can get into UGA and graduate these days, illiteracy and other shortcomings notwithstanding. It's usually good money for us clubworkers but we earn every dime of it and probably more than we get. These are the people for whom the county government inconveniences the rest of us with infrastructure changes. All those months we spend with half the streets torn up and the other half blocked by more work are but for appearance's sake on those six, sometimes seven days out of the year when those old drunken alumni in their Winnebagos are in town to tailgate. It doesn't matter if it's "old-school" people running the Commission or the supposed "left" in power now; the priorities are the same. Residents are never as important as those alumni who are the bread and butter of a rotten and corrupt University of Georgia. Always remember that the next time someone tries to tell you Athens is all about the minority of residents called "townies" who constitute our rather limited "scene."
Michael Stipe, Terrorist Sympathizer? The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has been giving large sums of money to the Earth Liberation Front, the eco-terrorist group that committed the vandalism and arson at the SUV dealership in California in recent weeks. You might know that our own Michael Stipe has been a big celebrity supporter of PETA. I call upon Stipe and all other celebrity PETA supporters to publicly disavow themselves of such criminal actions and the material support of a terrorist organization.
More Sweet Confusion That's what RSW's are now called. What can we do?
Rock Star Name Change Tonight at TW we have another one of those pre-planned onstage name changes, this time by the former and current locals Rock Star Wallabies (which does include an Australian that also DJ's at WUOG 90.5 FM). And the name will be...announced on stage and posted tomorrow...
Cure My Bluegrass Here I go again, setting out early on a Wednesday to begin work at 7 because it's bluegrass night. They're nice enough people but it's a much greater amount of bluegrass than I can really stand. Interestingly enough, two weeks ago the "pro" bluegrass band, Chatham County Line, failed to appear or even call to say what the problem was, so some of our jam session regulars got together on stage to play for the first time as a band with no real practice. They sounded every bit as good as any of the touring acts we have. I do have one thing to look forward to: the sooner I get there, the more time I'll have to advance myself and get some Church's fried chicken for supper. I have to get myself through these nights somehow.
Anyone Can be Signed to Any Label Last night at TW our main "draw" was The Party of Helicopters from Velocette. There was some hype about them and some hipsters were into it before they heard it, but the band was absolutely awful. The consensus among many of us there was that we couldn't tell if they were playing songs or still warming up for their line check. It sounded like everyone was playing a different song. I knew it would prove nothing that they were signed to Velocette but maybe that doesn't need to be said considering how every label signs a turkey once in a while, often on purpose because selling great music is not in fact their first concern. Velocette's best band is still far and away local fovorites Jucifer.
The Subversion Continues 10 years after the original Clubville fax newsletter, the name is back in blog form. This is your souce for Athens nightclub news of note and commentary from the inside. The show must go on...