As demonstrated by a glance at this week's Feedback police blotter, the boys and girls in blue have been making their presence felt on the local music and nightlife scene.
First up: an incident that took place Friday, March 1, at the Raven, 2217 Welton. The club's owner, Albert Bryant, could not be reached for comment, but former Babihed mouthpiece Bill Houston, who's been handling the Raven's soundboard, gladly chips in with details. According to Houston, a large pack had gathered to see the evening's headliner, The Mr. T Experience. However, the situation began to spin out of control when a security guard and another man decided to deal with a drunk and unruly fun-seeker by, Houston says, "Rodney Kinging him" in front of the club. The authorities were called and, Houston confirms, one of the men pounding the patron was arrested. Later, backup officers inside the club discovered a handful of underage customers who seemed to be soused and moved to shut down the show. "But the kids refused to go," Houston reports, "and a few of them shouted things like, 'Let's riot!' So the sergeant there said Mr. T could play for a few minutes in order to calm everybody down. They did four songs and promised to come back soon, and then the cops emptied out the place." Afterward, Houston goes on, decision-makers at the Office of Excise and Licenses gave the Raven permission to remain open through March; after that, the alleged liquor-license violations will be assessed and determinations will be made about possible penalties.
Six days earlier, on Saturday, February 24, another matter that attracted police attention occurred at the old BMH synagogue, 16th and Gaylord. The building is owned by Ztephen Brouen, a former rave promoter (he was involved with "Communion," a 1994 event) and inventor of a device named "Best Rave Toy" by this very publication a couple of years ago. He's since created his own faith, dubbed the Tri-Faith religion; Brouen can explain its basic tenets to anyone with six or seven hours to spare. When asked about the event staged at the former synagogue on the date in question, he insists, "It was not a rave. It was a religious event. I'm a product of the rave culture, but I've taken a spiritual path." To support his contentions about the gathering, he points out that the invitations for it referred to "an evening of religious celebration in the name of peace, love, life and our Creator." Rave or religious ceremony, the happening attracted approximately 1,500 people, most of them under thirty, and several police officers, who ordered everyone home just prior to 2 a.m. the next day after determining that Brouen didn't have proper documentation for a smoke machine. Brouen views the entire scene as a clear-cut case of harassment and casually tosses around threats of a lawsuit (none has been filed). In the meantime, he insists that he will continue "trying to expose people to God in a very subtle way."
Questions of faith had little to do with the goings-on at the Bluebird Theater Friday, February 23. The day's slate was quite full: Michael Ray and the Cosmic Krewe, recently profiled in these pages, was scheduled to take the stage after a performance by alterna-rockers Spot that was sponsored by now-defunct radio station 92X. The huge throng that showed up to see Spot made things even more problematic and drew police attention. As Bluebird co-owner Chris Swank tells it, the officers determined that the building couldn't hold all the Spot fanatics who wanted in; all was resolved, though, when Spot agreed to play two sets rather than the agreed-upon one. The Bluebird did not receive a citation as a result of the Spot appearance, and Swank says he and his staff have been especially vigilant of late in preventing overcrowding. "The police have been everywhere lately," he notes. "I've talked with other promoters around town, and they say they've been dealing with the same things."
So, ladies and gentlemen, watch your steps. Because someone could be watching you.
By the way, officers and just plain citizens, here's word about a few more places that feature live music.
A number of recent schemes have failed to revive the Oriental Theatre at 4335 West 44th Avenue. But now Bruce Kupfer, an entrepreneur who also runs Total Home Design, which he describes as "a floor-covering store," wants to make the Oriental into a musical destination. After bringing off a couple of shows in February, he's booked a full program of acts for Fridays and Saturdays through March. (On Friday, March 15, the bill includes a comedy troupe, Improv-A-Rama and two rock-based combos, the Girls and Blind Vision; on Saturday, March 16, the menu includes acoustic players Darrel Whealey and Krista O'Hea and the bluesy Road Kings.) "I'm a part-time musician myself," Kupfer says. "I just walked into this, and I'd like to make it go."
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Meanwhile, at the Key Club, something different is happening. The nightspot, at 2040 Larimer, is best known for live jazz played in the portion of the building dubbed the Crystalounge and for the dance music that's spun by DJs on the other side of the club. Now Stacy Thurman, who has booked bands at Seven South, and Aaron Rettich have been given permission to stage live shows in the dance-club section on Tuesdays; LD/50 will be there on March 19. "I'm hoping to get some of the local bands that don't play out all the time," Thurman says. "We want to get a little scene going."
I've just become the last person in the continental United States to get e-mail. But I know the system works because the Simpeltones used it to inform me of their next performance (Friday, March 15, at Herman's Hideaway, with the AUTO-NO). If you'd like to try it yourself, type in the following: Michael_Robert@swestword.com.
Man, I feel so modern. On Thursday, March 14, Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets kick off a three-night run at Brendan's; Otter Pops taste sweet at the Raven, with Gob; My Blind Alley get into a fine lather at Soapy Smith's; and Urban Shakedancers boogie at the Little Bear. On Friday, March 15, 40th Day veteran Shawn Strub visits Luna Tango, 76 S. Pennsylvania; Wryesteous Pybayk Jammbory takes over the Asylum; Lovebuzz, New Country Boy and Furious George get into mischief at the Lion's Lair; and Green Linnett Records' own Reeltime get their Irish up the Bluebird. On Saturday, March 16, the Spinanes revolve at the Fox Theatre, with Space Team Electra; Martha's Wake crashes at the Paradise Theatre; David Wilcox gets sensitive at the Ogden; and the Dude of Life smells something Phishy at the Mercury Cafe. And on Wednesday, March 20, Supernova bursts at the Lion's Lair; the Homewreckers trash Brendan's; Idiot Flesh babbles at Cricket on the Hill; and the Humpers put on a display at the Mercury, with Glass Chunk. Go ahead and watch them; they won't mind.