http://www.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment/nightlife/orl-calever11101102oct11.story

True music fans are gaining ground

Tyler Gray

October 11, 2002

Music promoters at clubs are mining for true music fans again -- the newest effort unearths a prime setting for a real listening audience.

Back Booth already throws us nuggets of gold consistently. Brett Bennett at Stardust Video & Coffee keeps it pure by promising to eject anyone who dares gab through an intimate music performance. And Michael McRaney's Foundation promotions struck pay dirt with recent shows by Bright Eyes and Hot Water Music and promises more with upcoming concerts by Wilco, Legendary Pink Dots and others.

Add another miner to the company.

Even as he drifted away from financial success, Jim Faherty stuck by the conviction that quality music is worth the expense. With another kind of conviction under his belt, he's allying himself with unlikely partners, adding to the efforts to make music the mainstay here.

Faherty, the people at Slingapour's in Wall Street Plaza and a bigtime beer sponsor have teamed for "Stripped Down," a showcase of local and scaled-down national acts. There's not so much pressure on Faherty to turn a short-term profit with these shows. His financial mistakes are well-reported.But he's not the club owner this time, an arrangement that has worked out better for a man who made his mark breaking even or losing money at borrowed halls and stages with acts such as the Dead Kennedys, Firehoseand others.

This is more of a sponsorship and marketing effort on the part of the beer company. In all fairness, the Budweiser logo isn't blasted all over the stage, the room and fliers for the show. It's not like a cigarette company party. It's a subtle endorsement. The free beer giveaways happen more than an hour before the music begins.

The organizers rename the club Kashmir for the midweekevents and redecorate and retrofit Slingapour's with a grittier atmosphere. Why? Because Slingapour's has earned more of a reputation as a dance party and a chug joint than a music-lover's haven.

Changing that image or the demand that inspired it is a tall order. It's easy to doubt a night designed around the music rather than the beer special or a fashion show.

"We put tables and chairs in there because I wanted to make it like a listening room and not a party atmosphere," Faherty says. Because he's involved and because of the similarities, longtime Orlandoans will compare the look of the place with that of his former Sapphire Supper Club.

The cartoon painting on the wall behind the stage is covered with a dark drapery. Cloth hangs from the ceiling to help absorb otherwise ricocheting sound.

Kashmir might just work. The bands at the first show were a nice transition between the party crowd and the reserved listening audience Faherty is going after. David Schweizer and his Princeton's Guff bounced between playing to the crowd and offering up more delicate numbers. Junkie Rush was a fitting headliner for a later music crowd with a few drinks in 'em.

Expect a tamer and more nationally geared lineup in coming weeks. Some of the shows are pure radio promotions -- tickets can be won only through 101.1 FM (WJRR). But Jason Ross and Thomas Juliano of Seven Mary Three play with Steve Foxbury on Nov. 23 for a public show. Then on Nov. 30, it's Chad Jasmine Band and Double First Cousins (billed erroneously as Double Fisted Cousins).

The shows are professionally recorded at the events too. The plan is to play them back on a WJRR show later. Indie rock guru and 104.1 FM (WTKS) "Sound Opinions" anti-DJ Dan Stone is scheduled to host the program.

All sounds pretty lofty, doesn't it?

Faherty says he wants to tinker with the sound and décor, but the first Stripped Down Kashmir effort was impressive with about 250 people stopping in to check out the relatively unknown venture.

"I'm trying to make this feel like a special event," Faherty says.

Been downtown on a Wednesday night lately? Attracting 250 people is already something special, even if many of them are carrying free passes.

Lukewarm disco fever

"Special" is not a word I'd use to describe Jimmy's Honkeytonk Disco. Not on the night I went.

I gave the place a few weeks to build up a clientele. Then I went about 11 p.m. on a Friday night. Country folks were leaving. Curtis "Hoss" Marting, a DJ and dance boss you might recognize from Sanford's The Barn, was packing up. Too bad. He's the real deal.

The country crowd is an early crowd, bar owner Jimmy Kazaros told me. Plus there was an event in Sanford that night tapping his expected pool of attendees.

Mike Feinberg, part of the original team behind the concept, has split. He's no longer working with Kazaros. Feinberg explained the Honkeytonk Disco concept to me in a way that made sense. The whole thing would be like an inside joke, a cultural train wreck.

The train wreck aspect might still be there. A bootylicious brand of dance music replaced any semblance of life in the empty pool hall shortly after a friend and I arrived. But the humor about the place is lacking. It looks less like a good-old-boy-themed bar and more like a good-old-boy bar. I'm not sure I need to drive to Kissimmee to find another one of those.

Jimmy's is at the same location as the short-lived Off the Rail, by the way. A barrage of ideas have failed there, apparently. I'd like Jimmy's to do something interesting. And I'll certainly give it another shot. I just need to save my allowance to buy gas for another trip.

Big Bamboozled?

If Jimmy's falls through, you can always count on Big Bamboo Lounge for something special. Or can you?

It might be the best dive in the world. You could spend a year in the place and never see all of the trinkets and mementos pilfered or borrowed from jobs and relocated to the 'Boo for décor. It's more than an Orlando treasure. It's an American treasure.

It should never be torn down, not for a gas station, not for some other gaudy tourist trap in Tackytown -- it's on that strip of West U.S. Highway 192 that makes a Florida native queasier than the Vomitron ride at the local theme park.

But something has to be done to keep the place open or it will be sold off. Late 'Boo founder Bruce Muir, who died in 1999, willed the place remain open for four years before being sold. That just doesn't jibe for a lot of folks who consider the place an oasis of reality in a cartoon kingdom.

During a recent trip to the 'Boo with a friend, we were wowed as usual at the sheer volume of memorabilia in there. There's no imitating the years of stories and characters caked on the walls. The bar was serving cheap beer in mason jars on squares of toilet paper before the dive bar thing became trendy.

Kissimmee should buy the 'Boo, turn it into a working museum of true Florida culture.

Instead, owners are looking to sell off a piece of the parking lot property to keep the place going -- the land alone is estimated to be worth at least $1 million. They need the help of a civil engineer. Know one? E-mail info@bigbamboolounge.com. And show up and drop some cash, will ya? Literally, cash. No credit cards accepted.

The 'Boo is at 4849 W. U.S. Highway 192. Look for the darkest lot just east of the corner of 192 and State Road 535.

You can reach Tyler Gray at 407-420-5164 or tgray@orlandosentinel.com

Copyright © 2002, Orlando Sentinel

 

 

 

 

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