After more than two decades of being in the local music scene, from playing in Rubber Planet to booking places like the Cricket on the Hill to owning the Toad Tavern for the last five years, Brice Hancock is selling the venue and moving on. On Friday, December 13, a new set of owners, Leah Dillon and Garret Steward, will take over the Toad. Hancock says the current staff and format will both stay the same, and Dillon confirms that she and Steward do not intend to make any major changes.
"It was something that I've wanted to do for a long time, but I was ready for something that focused on music, and the Toad Tavern is perfect for that," says Dillon of the Toad, which he's been frequenting for the past fifteen years. "I mean, it's iconic. It's been there forever."
While the Toad has been around for more than twenty years, shortly after Hancock took over the venue in 2007, he remodeled and revamped the bar, including putting in a new, much larger stage -- which effectively transformed the place from a strip-mall bar to a viable venue.
Since then, the Toad has been home to a number of local acts and has seen its share of national acts, booked by seasoned talent buyer Mark Sundermeier. Acts such as guitar wizard Adrian Belew, Del Amitri frontman Justin Currie and Ours have played there, as well as blues acts like the legendary Charlie Musselwhite. Although Hancock has enjoyed owning the Toad, he's ready to move on.
"I want to do something else with my life," he says. "I made a living off rock and roll and live music for a long time. It's been great, but it doesn't really agree with me anymore. My lifestyle is completely different; I'm totally in a completely different place. It's just time for me to do something else."
Hancock, who's already working for his father at H&R Block, says he plans to move to Evergreen, where he'll start selling real estate. "I'm done with live music, as far as being on the business end," says Hancock. "I'll just be a fan from here on out."
Hancock's last night as owner of the Toad will be this Saturday, December 7, and he'll be at the venue with his friend who owns the Black Vulture Tattoo Shop, who is sponsoring the show, which includes reunion performances by Wanker and Babihed, as well as appearances by Mr. Majestyk's 8 Track Revival and Snackcakes & Beer.