What's Up, Chuck?
Singin' Some Blues--Doc's: the rest of the story; Curtis Salgado, Kenny "Blue" Ray, and Lucy Kaplansky.
Thursday, May 20, 1999
As we reported last week, Doc''s Nightclub will close its doors as of June 5, and its equipment will be moved to the Long Bar. While it''s tough to predict what the long-term effects on the music scene may be, it''s obvious there will be some immediate changes to the kind of nightlife we''ve been enjoying since Sean Croce, John Cardinalli and Santo Davi (co-owners of The Long Bar in downtown Monterey) bought Doc''s last November.
The month of June, 1999, has loomed large in Doc''s recent history: On the 19th of that month, the lease on the basement nightclub expires and, according to club owners both actual and potential, the chances for negotiating a long-term lease have been slim and none.
At the same time, Doc''s Nightclub has been in need of some serious remodelling and upgrading to make it a more attractive, comfortable and engaging music venue. But, without a long-term lease, club owners are reluctant to invest the needed money into a venue that could be snatched away from them with little notice.
"The same reasons that Sean [Croce] did not feel comfortable signing the lease are the reasons that it''s unlikely that anybody else will open a nightclub there," says Matt Heimbold, the booking agent for Doc''s. "Nobody in their right mind would put out those kind of capital expenditures without a real comfortable lease extension."
Although Heimbold acknowledges that there were nights that the club had a relatively small attendance, he says that was something to be expected. He says the overall feeling is that Doc''s was a successful experiment, introducing Monterey County audiences to a concert venue--with a cover charge, and national and regional acts--rather than a neighborhood bar that serves free music as a chaser for the beer you''re drinking.
"All in all, the experiment worked," says Heimbold, "which was very encouraging. That''s why Sean [Croce] is going to use a Doc''s concert-venue booking strategy at the Long Bar."
Make that almost a Doc''s booking strategy. Where Doc''s booked live music both during the week and on weekends, the Long Bar will only have live music Sunday through Thursday, and will retain its DJ/dance mix on Friday and Saturday nights.
"The reason he [Croce] won''t do Friday and Saturday is that the Long Bar is an outstanding success," says Heimbold, "and it just wouldn''t make sense for him not to do the DJ and dance format that''s existed here since he took over the Long Bar a year ago.
"There are other clubs that I have seen in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York that do DJ music on the weekends and live music during the week, so I know it can work. The key ingredient is to give the community something they like, and advertise it."
Although Heimbold confesses some nostalgic feelings for Doc''s, he says the overall music experience at the Long Bar will be an improvement. By combining the sound and light equipment from both clubs, a superior system will be created. And overseeing the sound will be Doc''s long-time noise manager, Larry Viales, who will take up his post across the room from the band. Instead of being virtually on top of the band (as he has been at Doc''s), his new perch will give him an opportunity to gauge and trim the sound from an audience''s perspective.
Also, the Long Bar offers more conventional table-and-chair seating. And the posts at Doc''s? The ones that almost always seemed to be in the way of getting a clear look at the stage? They''re going to be moved, too, and set up in the middle of...
Just kidding. The posts are going to stay right where they are, which means the Long Bar will offer audiences a better view of the stage.
"What will the community lose?" asks Heimbold. "It will lose name acts on the weekends. But what we book here Sunday through Thursday will be pretty consistent with what we''ve already been doing, and you''ll be able to see more intimate acts and enjoy them better."
There are still a couple weekends left to say goodbye to the old club, and this weekend''s blues are provided by steamy harmonicat Curtis Salgado.
Salgado has picked up a lot of national attention for his latest CD, Wiggle Outta This, a blend of original and cover tunes running the gamut from rockin'' blues to R&B and straight ahead blues.
Although Salgado has an impressive resum >(Wiggle is his fourth album, and he''s played with Muddy Waters, Robert Cray, Albert Collins, Roomful of Blues and Bonnie Raitt), his biggest claim to fame may be his connection to John Belushi and The Blues Brothers.
Salgado, it seems, introduced Belushi to his style of blues and R&B, and was the inspiration for Belushi''s madcap, hard-living Jake. Belushi had run into Salgado in 1979, while filming Animal House in Eugene, Ore. and was so impressed that he took Salgado as a mentor, learning all he could about blues performance and history.
Curtis Salgado, Saturday, 9pm. Doc''s Nightclub, 649-4241.
While we''re talkin'' blues, let''s talk about Kenny "Blue" Ray who''ll be setting a fire under the blues at Sly''s on Saturday.
The Bay Area-based guitarist has been hailed by Vintage Guitar Magazine as the "best unknown guitarist," and the "Blues Notes" newsletter out of Portland, Ore., describes him as "a well-schooled, disciplined guitar master with an ability to bring out a captivating fundamental tone in his playing that most current blues players just can''t match."
After listening to his ''98 release, Let the Blues Rule, I tend toward the latter description. While it''s obvious that Ray has the same chops and techniques that more ostentatious guitar players pull out ad nauseam, what makes his music so damn good is that he uses those tricks to serve the music--he''s not some razzle-dazzle, soul-challenged performer stroking the neck of his guitar in a meaningless display of technique. The guy''s got so much soul that it spills out of the speakers.
I''ll tell you, this is about the best blues CD I''ve had come across my desk this year. I''m guessing this should be a hell of a show.
Kenny "Blue" Ray, Saturday, 9pm. Sly McFly''s, 649-8050.
And Lucy Kaplansky is returning to Morgan''s on Friday. Kaplansky was originally slated to play Doc''s Nightclub, under the auspices of the Monterey Bay Traditional Music Society, but things got weird.
According to coffee-meister Morgan Christopher, a couple weeks ago another acoustic MBTMS show at Doc''s, featuring Cheryl Wheeler, didn''t go off so well. According to Christopher, there was just too much noise and too many distractions for the audience to focus on the music. So he took his next act, Kaplansky, and headed home.
Now that we have the gossip out of the way...
This is the third or fourth time that Kaplansky has been through town. You''ll probably remember that a long time ago, in a city far away, Kaplansky performed as a duo with Shawn Colvin in New York City. Then she decided she wanted to be a shrink, so she dropped music, picked up her degree in psychology, landed a job working with chronically mentally ill adults and started her own practice.
But nobody ever really escapes show business alive. Kaplansky continued to sing, racking up film and commercial credits, and then in ''94 Colvin decided she wanted to try her hand at being a producer. She called her former singing partner, they went into the studio and came out with demo tapes that kick-started a comeback (of sorts) for Kaplansky.
That first album, The Tide as well as her next, Flesh and Bone, gathered rave reviews from critics around the country. And earlier this year, Kaplansky released her third solo CD, Ten Year Night, which is picking up where her previous releases left off. Again, there''s an earthy lyricism to her songs that''s accentuated by her rich, sensuous voice (somewhat reminiscent of Mary Chapin Carpenter), strong, straightforward guitar, and country-tinged arrangements.
Playing with Kaplansky on Friday are Denice Franke and Nina Gerber, who are themselves noted performers. Franke is a respected vocalist and songwriter and Gerber is a fantastic guitarist.
All in all, this should be a damn fine concert.
Lucy Kaplansky and Friends, Friday, 8pm. Morgan''s Coffee and Tea. $12/door. 642-4949.