Singing the Blues
"They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday's just as bad/Lord and Wednesday's worse, Thursday's oh so sad." Those lines are from T-Bone Walker's oft-covered "Stormy Monday" -- but they're also an apt description of the weekday business at Brendan's Pub since it reopened on Larimer Street last summer. And come next month, Mootown's blues fans could be singing the blues.
Blame a format conflict between Brendan's owner Tom Walls and now-former manager Kevin Geraghty. "He wanted to stay with blues -- strictly with the blues -- and R&B concept, and I didn't," Walls explains. "I think it needs to appeal to a wider audience, especially during the week. I think the blues market is great. It's older; it's a little more sophisticated. It's probably a little easier to handle -- you don't have typical nightclub problems like fights or whatever with an all-blues club. But it's harder to get the older folks out during the week. On the weekends it's no problem."
Hold the phone. Former manager? I thought Geraghty was a co-owner of the club, but not according to Walls -- who also owns the Trinity Grill, Rocky Mountain Diner, Choppers and the Castle Cafe in Castle Rock. "Down the road, under certain performance clauses, he could have ended up being half-owner of the club," Walls says. "But it was all contingent on a lot of things that didn't seem to be working out."
According to Geraghty, the matter has yet to be resolved. After a quick phone call to Walls and a consult with his sister, Sheila Geraghty, a lawyer who reportedly has a 50 percent stake in Brendan's, he offers this: "At this present time, we are working with Mr. Walls to determine the fate of the club in the very near future."
"I do own 100 percent of both the real estate and the club," Walls responds. "Sheila Geraghty -- if she converts a note and contributes money -- could have a 50 percent interest in both the real estate and the club. Right now, she does not and has not since January. But if she fulfills a few obligations, she can. Kevin doesn't have a 50 percent interest in anything. If Sheila and Kevin can put together some money and buy me out, then it will remain Brendan's Blues Pub for as long as they want to do that."
But barring that, Walls says, his plan is to change the name from Brendan's to The Drop after the first of April and to broaden the focus of the club to include more "homegrown" music. And he's already taken steps in that direction by bringing in Andrew Chapman, who's previously managed assorted brewpubs and his own restaurant in Thornton, the Streetside Eatery, as operations manager, and by hiring Jake Schroeder of Opie Gone Bad for booking and promotions.
Schroeder, who also hosts 99.5/The Mountain's Homegrown show on Monday nights, has mixed emotions about the situation, since he's known Geraghty for over a decade. He wishes "it would be six months from now, immediately," he says. But he's also excited about the opportunity and has high hopes for the room.
Walls is optimistic, too. "Jake's well-known," he says. "He's more of a charismatic figure around town -- singing for the Avs and Opie Gone Bad. Kevin was good at booking bands, especially national blues bands; Jake will be equally as good, I think, with the local scene."
The transformation is already complete at what had been Club Onyx. Last week, the space at 314 East 13th Avenue was rechristened Club 314. According to the club's owner, it was just time for a change. "Onyx was four years old, and I think we had finally come to a point where we didn't see much opportunity for growth," says owner Joseph Stewart. "It was kind of feeling a little stagnant with some of the stuff."
For thirty days last fall, Onyx was more than just a little stagnant: It was closed. When his liquor license was suspended because of club-goers' illicit behavior at the weekly Skin2Skin fetish party -- too much skin on display for the city's taste, apparently -- Stewart was forced to take a month-long time-out. When Onyx reopened at the end of September, it picked up where it had left off with the weekly parties, but Stewart began to feel that he'd been painted into a corner.
"We were kind of locked into that sort of gothic format, that kind of crowd, predominantly, most of our nights," he says. "It was time to try and freshen things up and bring in some different crowds. So we changed the name, changed the decor and the look and feel of it inside."
When I stopped by last Thursday night, I couldn't believe how bright, how downright welcoming, the joint looked. Once all black and red, the front room is now painted silver and blue, with cream-colored couches and easy chairs. Good thing Stewart is firm on the need to change the club's focus, because once you leave black, chief, there's no going back.
It's hard to imagine goth kids with names like Azreal, kids who take their disenfranchisement from society way too seriously, chillin' in the blue room; the space is way too serene. But before the kids start searching for the absinthe, razor blades and Joy Division albums, they should know that Stewart hasn't entirely forsaken the goth for the rock: Wednesday nights have been set aside for that set. And if the new surroundings seem a bit too happy, a bit too filled with holding hands and singing Kumbaya and shit, I have some advice for the mopeys: Wear sunglasses.
Stewart is working with various promoters plugged into different genres to produce each night at the club. "I wanted to kind of step back a little and get some people that are better at that than I am," he explains. So Christophe Cranberri from Vox Demonna and Bill Terrell from Rogue will host Thursday's Metal on the Hill, a night sure to be filled with drunken debauchery as ladies drink free from 9 to 11 p.m. and then showcase their boobies in a wet T-shirt contest. How's that for backwoods hickville? Fridays will highlight house tunes provided by II Damn Funky Productions, which has recently done parties at Heavenly Daze and Zang's Brewery that reportedly drew up to 800 people. On Saturday nights, Skin2Skin has been replaced by Farenheit 314, hosted by Christaan Howard of Afterdarkk Media and featuring such scintillating activities as a sexy-stocking and sexiest-bra contest, body-paint performances and a pimp-and-ho party.
Enjoy, but be forewarned: While the name may have changed and the place looks a little friendlier, that doesn't mean you can get all Caligula in there. Charles Edwards, that crazy-looking muscular dude from Seraphim Shock, is still the doorman. And I have a feeling that if you get out of hand, he'll be happy to show your ass the door.
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