Carter: Places to play

Places to Play

Richard Carter

 

Walk around the city square in Denton sometime, and you will be surprised how many clubs there are, and places to see live music. It’s like it’s it own world or something of cool places to hang out and/or just walk around. You can barhop in Denton like you would on 6th St in Austin or in Deep Ellum in Dallas, and barhopping by foot is a lot safer than driving to clubs all over a city, and it makes it easier to partake of different varieties of live music like a musical smorgasbord.

There was a short time in Wichita Falls several years ago, when a number of clubs downtown offered somethingmilar to the Denton scenario I mentioned above. The time was fleeting through, and until recently the clubs that offered live music was few and far between. And, they were very much spread out over the city.

The last couple of months have become worse for people who like live rock music. The number of all-ages shows have dwindled to practically nothing, because the American Legions don’t seem to be available for live bands to play, and the venues that took their place are no longer viable to local promoters. I’m still not sure if a show at the Hangar ever made money. Rumor had it that despite the great bands that played there, none of those shows did any better than break even.

Recently I was told that The Office was sold, and that the new owner was bringing in real country music and not live rock music. I understand that the newly reopened venue is doing well. Good for them, because that old Pioneer Restaurant building has some great musical vibes, courtesy of Frank Goff. Rock bands lost another place to play in November when Old Town renovated their front room and is no longer booking live bands, at least from what I understand. Old Town was a great place for regular rock bands, pop country bands and even metal bands like The Affiliation to perform live.

At this point, the Iron Horse Pub is the lone established venue for rock bands to play. The 8th Street Coffee location just down the street is doing open mics and will have the occasional act play live. But that leaves no other venues dedicated to live rock music in Wichita Falls.

The good news, or at least there is some room for optimism, is that two venues are trying out live rock music. Fat Alberts, which is next door to the old Brickhouse, has had an aa band play and will have the same act play, I believe, for New Year’s Eve. The venue is certainly large enough for a rock show, but it remains to be seen if it could draw crowds regularly for live music shows.

I also heard, from a Facebook.com post, by an area Killdevil member that a venue near Sheppard Air Force Base has booked the band to play a show on December 15. It’s called My Place Saloon on 1103 Sheppard Access Rd. For more info check out the Killdevil Facebook page. I have not been to the club, but I don’t recall any venues from the past being on the north side of town with the exception of the Hangar and Lakeside Ballroom, the venue near Herb Easley’s, where so many of the all-ages shows were up until recently.

Bands need venues to play, and I cannot imagine rehearsing for years on end to never play a show, or at best play only three to four times a year. I suspect that there will always be benefit shows, somewhere, and bands should play those. But the notion of having to pick up and travel to play in Denton, Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston or Austin without any connections means playing to an empty room and not getting paid every much. We shall see what happens with local venues, but one full-time venue for rock music is not nearly enough.