Archive for the ‘entertainment’ Category

Here is a tip that is right on the Money: get your tickets to paradise, very quickly because they won’t be available long. Eddie Money, who has a ton of hits and plays casinos, festivals and fairs all over the country, is going to do a small venue show here in the Valley on August 9th. I’ve been watching things pretty close for the last ten years around here, and I feel very comfortable saying that Cheap Shots on Trent is going to have the best and funnest night that any Valley bar has had for a very long time. Eddie Money is not a small venue guy but he is doing the Valley a big favor because we have connections.
How did we get so lucky? The nearest that I can tell (and I’m pretty near to the situation), is that there are two principal reasons. One of the reasons I have known for years and the other I have never met even though we have dozens of mutual friends.
I met the main reason several years ago when we were running the Rock Inn. Back then Joey Shalloe was probably the number one sound guy in Spokane. He had a steady gig at The Goodtymes niteclub running their sound on weekends. When touring events like a Broadway play at the Opera House or performer at the fair needed help with their sound, they called Joey. He also flew around the country and the world doing sound for Paul Rodgers, the lead singer for Bad Company.
But being a sound guy in Spokane, no matter how good you are, is not always steady money. He worked at the Rock Inn very part-time as my sound advisor and briefly as a karaoke host. After the Rock Inn he worked with me occasionally as a carpenter during the week while flying to places like Japan to do Paul’s sound over the weekend. Talk about a good story to the Monday morning question “So how did your weekend go?”
It has been four or five years since Joey has needed to find side work with the likes of me because he hit a steady money gig with Eddie Money who first hired him to run his sound and then the whole show, doubling as sound technician and road manager. It is a big job because Eddie Money likes to work, and he works from corner to corner of the country and everywhere in between. Though he lives in the Valley, Joey commutes thousands of miles a year, flying out of the old GEG and hopping on the tour bus to run the show for Eddie at something like 115 shows a year. None of the shows are for small crowds, unless maybe private parties where big money is involved.
Sandwiched between shows in Montana and Oregon, Joey is doing us a favor promoting the show only because Eddie is doing him a favor. It is a little job benefit for Joey that is going to benefit a lot of people. Eddie is actually killing two birds with one stone because he is also giving his drummer, Glenn Symmonds, a bonus. Glenn graduated from West Valley in 1970 and so he will be performing with and in front of a lot of friends that night.
That he will be performing with a group of very old friends for about 15 or 20 minutes before the show is something that is easily worth the price of admission. Some of those old friends are my old friends though I never knew them like Glen knew them. As a kid he was a drummer in the awesome drumline of the Percussion Naut Patriots, a drum and bugle corps led by Howie Robbins. Howie, an extrordinary drummer, touched and influenced hundreds of kids lives but most of all his drummers, many of whom he gave private lessons.
Though Glenn was already long gone when I joined the drum corps’ brass line in 1972, most of the drummers he played with and will reunite with August 9th were still playing on Howie’s drumline when I first met them. The snare line was the heart of the show and I loved them. They were beyond good, they were phenomenal. The amazing thing is that many of them remained in Spokane, stayed in touch and recently a few of them started playing together and performing as Robbins Rebels. One of them, Jerry Brown, designs all my trusses for me at Valley Bestway. He and a handful of originals from the 1960’s will be performing with their old friend Glenn Symmonds. It is going to be a very entertaining and nostalgic short performance for a lot of people.
Eddie Money, on top of doing Joey and Glenn a favor, is doing a big favor for the people who will be lucky enough to be in the audience that night. Take a little advice, don’t be late showing up or buying your tickets. (As predicted, the concert sold out well in advance. Don’t say we didn’t try to give everyone a heads up.)

Cheap Shots is located at 6419 East Trent. Their number is 535-9309
Glenn Symmonds is a great Valley-boy-does-good story. I found this bio googling him on the net.
Here is a feature story I did on Joey a few years ago.
Here is a story I did on Howie Robbins a few months before he passed away.

    During the four years that we ran our niteclub, the Rock Inn, we hired a lot of bands to play at our place. For a while  we had three different bands performing each week ; one on Tuesday’s Blues Night, one on Thursday’s Country Night and on the weekends we had another band playing classic rock. I came to view them as a mixed blessing. On the one hand they were entertaining and a few of them could bring a crowd and deliver the goods to them. On the other hand, they were relatively expensive and most of them thought I was in business to give them a stage to wow the world.

   I always wanted to write out a handbook entitled “What Bands Need to Know About What Bar Owners Need.”  While my points would have  been just common sense and courtesy, I’m sure it would have been a revelation to many of them, judging by the way they so often seemed to lack either one. For example, it could be 10 degrees outside when they came to load in their equipment and they would almost always prop open the side door rather than opening and shutting it as they came and went. Within 5 minutes, the entire place was so cold people were donning their coats and mittens.

     I don’t know how many times I had to go flying out from the kitchen to tell a band they could not do a full sound check during lunch. I would about come unglued and they would look at me as if I was nuts, apparently oblivious to the fact that our lunch customers enjoyed visiting with one another as they ate a relaxing meal. And then there was the way they left the stage after they left. It serve as both ashtray and garbage can for many of them. It was bad enough that bands often left their ground-out cigerettes and beer bottles strewn all over the stage, but it really amazed me when they would leave their empty whiskey or vodka bottles. I guess they figured I never cleaned the stage and would not know if it was them or a previous band that left the contraband refuse.

   Elaine even caught the great bluesman Curtis Selgado, our most famous performer, doodling with a Sharpie on a table cloth in a private banquet room while he ate the cheeseburger I cooked and Elaine served him after his concert. When he realized that he had just ruined the tablecloth and that Elaine had caught him in the act, he quickly signed it and told us to keep it for a souvenir. It was easy to laugh at that and forgive a big star like Selgado, but I thought, what is it with musicians and trashing things?

   But as I said, they were also entertaining and from Curtis to the people who came out and performed on jam nights or open mike nights, they all had talent and I always respected that. Beyond having God-given talent, the local musicians love to play and perform. They have stayed true to their talent and developed it  with years of work . Motivation has to come from more than the pay because, for the most part, they barely make more than a decent wage.

   If somebody asked me to list the 10 best bands that  played at the Rock in order by how much I liked them, I would refuse. There were too many that I really liked. By the same token, I’m still friends with many of them and we love to watch them play whenever we get the chance. While we’re fans of a lot of bands, none would claim  us as followers. Truth is that we are followers of Sammy Eubanks but it might not seem like it to him because we just follow him to the edge of our little circle. It is a rare event that we travel beyond  our zip c0de let alone distant destinations like Downtown or Hillyard. Luckily, Sammy is a hard worker and he makes it out to the Valley every so often.

    We caught him  the first time he played at the Black Diamond a few weeks ago. Elaine and I were talking to Steve, the owner, earlier in the day and he was afraid Sammy would bomb like so and so had a few weeks before. When we came back later in the night and the place was packed, Steve came up and said he wanted more bombs like this one. As time goes by and Steve hires Sammy several more times, he’ll  become a fan of Sammy’s for more than just bringing in a crowd. He’ll get used to listening to Sammy playing great  country and blues and rock and roll. He’ll be a fan like us and the rest, listening and dancing to a God-given talent every chance he gets .

   Like us and anyone who has ever hired Sammy, Steve will appreciate him  more and more for being professional, easy to work with and always a pleasure to have around. I see this out at the Sullivan Scoreboard where Sammy plays outside several times each summer. We try going often but only if we can get there early.  It is the perfect menage d’ trois involving Sammy, the crowd and the owners. Sammy because he has a place to play and a crowd that loves him. The crowd because they have a place to go and party with Sammy. And the owners because they have them both.

   Sammy has more friends on his Facebook book page than anyone I’ve seen which did not surprise me. He was performing and making friends long before we first met him 8 years ago when we started working with him at the Rock Inn. Judging by what we see in our little part of the world, he is stronger than ever and adding new friends every time he performs. The difference between Sammy’s friends and most people’s friends on Facebook is that his don’t “Like” him, they “Love” him.

Look us up Facebook, we’re not as popular as Sammy.

My Great Web page

      

    While I find the movie-dispensing Redbox kiosks amazing and super convenient, I also find it very easy to root against them in regards to their competing with Block Buster for Spokane Valley’s dvd rental dollar. It is a classic case of man against machine. Block Buster’s shelves are stocked with several copies of sci-fi films like the Terminator where droids and computers have taken over the world. This bleak future is nearly upon us here in the Valley as our neighborhood Block Buster at Bowdish and Sprague fights on valiantly against the circling, snarling Red Boxes that seem to be reproducing like rabbits.

    The warriors in blue shirts who man the frontlines are fighting the good fight and they are the reason I will remain faithful to the bitter end which hopefully will never come. The crew at the store has always been polite, friendly and helpful. They are like counsellors guiding us towards well-liked movies and away from the waste-of-timers. If I am not sure about a movie I always ask one of the staff and their advice is unfailingly sound which stands to reason considering they all seem to watch movies and they hear a lot of feedback from the customers. The one guy with glasses and a  goatee, named Mike, (that’s his name not the goatee’s) has been cheerfully directing our family from the days of Ninja Turtles and Disney to the Gump man and the first Potter and onto the Twilight years of today. He and the other people on the staff make renting a movie from there fun.

   Beyond being amateur movie critics with common sense and normal tastes (which is the opposite of professional critics) the staff at Block Buster have always been accommodating. For example, whenever they see someone looking through the stacks of newly returned movies, they will ask what title the customer wants and then rummage around in the drop bin and every other place the movie might be hiding.

   Just this week a gal searched high and low for the new release, “Faster,” for me but her noble quest was in vain and so I sadly shuffled off to see if I could find something to replace our beloved Rock. Just as I was getting to the last wall and hope was fading fast, I heard a sweet voice behind me say, “Sir, the movie you were looking for just came in.”  I was so impressed with her thoughtfulness and it was all the better because it was one of those rare movies that every member of the family enjoyed. So in a sense, she made our night.

    I think it costs $2 more to rent a movie from Block Buster compared to Redbox, to which I say big whoopty-do. We  rent maybe one movie a week and so for $8 a month I get the newest releases, I get expert advice, I get treated like family and I get to help keep the Matrix nothing more than a great movie and not an approaching reality.

   We are not gamblers and seldom if ever go concerts and so Elaine and I have spent very little time at any of the tribal casinos. But we’ve been watching the billboards around the Valley waiting for one of them to announce an upcoming concert by someone we both really wanted to see. Finally after all these years, the right person showed up and the date worked great. Melissa Etheridge performing the Thursday after Valentines at Northern Quest was the perfect excuse for an overnight stay/ Valentine super date.

   It really was a great getaway. The room we got was $119 a night and it was nicer than the Couer D’Alene Resort where the rooms cost twice as much. The walk-in, glass-walled shower was amazing with the standard shower head accompanied by a row of three more flat-mounted heads spraying luxurious, horizontal fountains on the bather’s body. The top one hit the chest, the next hit the tummy and the bottom one, well the bottom one hit the bottom if you had your back to the wall. If you were facing the wall, let’s just say their plumbing took care of your plumbing. At any rate, it was quite a pleasant shower.

   Before the concert we had dinner at the River’s Edge Buffet. It was my idea and it was not a good one. The food was decent but the setting was on par with a hospital cafeteria and so it did not enhance the romantic aspect of our Valentine extravaganza. Luckily, Melissa Etheridge put the fire and excitement back into our evening. For me, Melissa is the quintessential troubadour rocker. She has been through a lot, she has written a lot of great songs about what she has been through and she just came out and knocked the socks off everybody in the audience. I love it when someone can sound better  performing one of their classics than they did when they first released it 20 years ago. Even though she is a well-known lesbian and cancer survivor, Melissa is about the sexiest thing going when she gets to pounding on her guitar and belting it out on the mike.

  The concert was over by 9 and so we had a lot of night left in front of us and a lot of ways to get into mischief considering we were at a casino. I don’t know if it is because I work hard for my money or because I have no luck at gambling, but for some reason I have never even understood the lure of gambling let alone be tempted by it which is saying something considering I have the will power of a newborn baby. But we did sit at the one-armed bandits long enough to lose $20 apiece, which meant we barely sat down. But boy oh boy, there certainly were a lot of people there who looked as though they were glued to their seats with construction adhesive and had been for hours.

   I suppose the casino was fuller than normal because of the concert, but most of those people on the machines did not look like they had just gone to the concert. They seemed quite serious as they puffed on their cigarettes, drank their drinks and solemnly stared at the spinning screen as they waited for it to jolt to a stop in one of a million combinations that meant absolutely nothing to me. In my short go at it, I could never tell why I won or how much I was winning, but I was pretty sure that all the diehards knew their machines. And there were a lot of machines, I mean thousands and when we called it a night around midnight, I would guess they were at between 70 and 80 percent capacity.

    I am an early riser while Elaine is late loafer, and so I always get up and wander whenever we stay at a hotel so that I don’t disturb my slumbering spouse. The casino was a great place to have a cup of coffee, read the paper and people watch at 6 in the morning. Though the night’s heaving mass of gamblers had evaporated sometime in the wee hours of the night, a new crowd had already started forming even before I wandered along. I ran into an old friend who recently went to work there serving cocktails to the gamblers. She said she loves her shift which goes from 6 to 2 because she’soff by mid afternoon. You would be surprised she said how many drinks she serves for breakfast.

   Another benefit she loves is the fact that all the hundreds of employees get to eat free at a buffet in the employees’ cafeteria . She said it is great food and you can eat all you want. That pretty much blew my mind. You talk about a recession-proof place to work. On the public side, gamblers are stuffing their money in the slot machines as fast as they can while the casino is making so much off them that they can afford to pay for hundreds and hundreds of free meals each day for the help.

   What a world away from Bowdish and Sprague where Ringo’s Casino has sat empty for more than a month. The funny thing is that it seemed to be healthy as far as Valley casinos go. Aces casino left  the Valley about five years ago. Jerry’s Casino came and went in the span of less than a year in the building where Ferraro’s is at now and Players and Spectators recently shut down their casino only to start back up with Ringo’s misplaced crew last month.

   Now the owner of Aces, which has been running up on North Division for years, is getting ready to fire Ringo’s back up. The guy is obviously a serious gambler. I used to think that running a nightclub was about the craziest game in the hospitality business, but now I believe it is trying to make a casino work anywhere other than on tribal trust land. What chance do they have?

   These casinos in town are like the old  Mom and Pop neighborhood grocery stores that used to be around in the old days, whereas places like Northern Quest are the Wal Marts or maybe even shopping malls for that matter. The little old stores were convenient but they didn’t have the gas and so they all went under. It is the same with the in-town casinos versus the tribal casinos. The big ones have all the gas with their slot machines, and 30-foot big screens and entertainers like Melissa. The whole thing kind of chaps my hide a little because of how unfair the competition is, though I do not begrudge the Indians their windfall because they have gotten the short end of the stick for about the last 200 years or so.

   I hope that the new Ringo’s and Players and Spectators do well with their upstart casinos. But I tend to think they ought to let the weak souls of the Valley hop on the shuttles and go out to the hinterlands for their gambling. I know that I can’t do much to help since I don’t gamble and they don’t have any of those heavenly showers.

    I don’t mean to always pick on the big apple, but to me they represent all the corporate/franchise restaurants that have 20-minute lines of hungry Valley folk eager to redeem their coupons or take advantage of the heavily advertised specials. Meanwhile the local independent eateries are lucky if they can fill all their tables at least once during any given meal.

   It was bad enough that Applebee’s trounced all of our small restaurants. Now they are going after the bars. When I owned my place, the Rock Inn, I grew to resent the way people packed out Applebee’s, Red Robin and the other giants during lunch and dinner, but I always took some comfort in the fact that none of them tried to compete much with the bars.

    I figured they could never compete with the locals, and it seemed they did not cared to try, considering that they usually charge downtown prices here in the Valley and the neighborhood watering holes are a dollar under that. They also never had any entertainment and so their nightlife was nill. But now that Applebee’s truly is today’s version of a neighborhood Grille, it wants to bring up the bar part of the business to the same level.

    I will be very curious to see if Applebee’s is successful with their venture into nighttime entertainment. My guess is that I would not be surprised if they do all right. Applebee’s are adding entertainment all over the country and they would not be doing it if it weren’t working somewhere. I know that they have picked at least two good forms of entertainment. Karaoke on Tuesday is a good choice because you can get a great night going with karaoke any night of the week if you do everything just right and get lucky.

    Wednesday with Wii is a good idea for more than just that the name is catchy. Wii is a cheap form of entertainment that is popular and successful in most other cities but the Valley doesn’t have much of it that I know of and so that makes it a possibility. I don’t know anything about the backlight party on Saturday night but I am sure it is also something that other Applebee’s around the country have found successful.

     But the bar business is a little different from grille business. I doubt they can create a truly neighborhood bar because of their prices. People just won’t go and sit around during the day or happy hour and pay downtown prices. You can never call yourself a neighborhood bar without a core of daytime regulars. They are the neighborhood.

   That doesn’t mean that our Valley Applebee’s can not build at least 3 strong nights of entertainment. It would take a minor miracle considering how dead most places are on Tuesday and Wednesday night in the Valley but I say more power to them on the one hand because I like to see places create fun and exciting night spots for all the people out looking for one on any given night of the week. You can find something fun on any night in Vegas, all the better if a person can find it in a nice place to live like the Spokane Valley.  

    On the other hand, I cringe at the thought that a few locals will lose some business if Applebee’s builds some successful nights. But I guess the local nighttime entertainment field will have to get used to the corporate player just like everybody else in business. Who knows, the Valley night scene might be better off for it.

    But as long as city well drinks cost a buck more than Valley wells, Applebee’s won’t ever be a neighborhood watering hole. Success in the nightlife venture, however, is conceivable. I just wonder if they would ever change their name to Applebee’s Grille and Nightclub.

   Summer time is an unpleasant time of the year for bars in general and night clubs in particular. When we owned the Rock Inn, I hated the summer weekends. A big part of our business was the dancing/live music on Friday and Saturday nights. When it was cold we were hot, when it was hot we were cold.

   I remember learning this our first summer after opening on Halloween and enjoying months of full-house weekends. It was like a new hot spot opened up on Memorial Day just down the road and and stole everybody away. I soon learned that my new competion in the summer around here was called “The Great Outdoors”. It does one heck of a business all summer long.

   After that first Memorial Day, my dancing and praying had to with trying to summon up rain for the weekends. But around here, folks seemed to prefer drinking beer in their tents and trailers and cabins on weekends whether it rains or not. The Fourth of July was always a low water mark and then the dry days of August just about dried up the local watering holes on weekends. It is particularly tough on nightclubs like ours that catered to an older crowd who all seemed to have the means to get out of town every weekend.

   I remember being so glad when Labor Day was finally over and then discovering that the dry summer period wasn’t over around here until after the Fair was done. It was agony that first year. And then around the first of October every body came back looking tan and ready to party. I know we sure were.

   I thought the first Redbox that I saw over a year ago was an amazing concept but it was located at the Albertsons at Trent and Argonne and so I didn’t rent one. I remember thinking I wished there was one close to my house. My wish has certainly come true. There is one at the Holiday convience store that I stop at every other day or so, the Walgreens we drive by every day and the Rosaurs we run in to to get a few groceries at least once a week.

   The things amaze me the way they are hooked up to the internet and use my email address to let me know that I’m getting billed another dollar for forgetting to return once again. I can go online to each box near me to check out its selection and then reserve whatever I want by using my debit card and then pick it up whenever I’m going by.

   Then the machine fascinates me on how sophisticated its internal mechanism must be to instantly find my selection out of the 50 or 60 titles in its little warehouse containing 500 DVD’s and slip it smoothly out the side. The kiosk casing has to be built like an underwater camera considering it has to sit out in the weather and protect the computer and wiring and robotics inside. The one at Walgreen at Pines is located on the west end which gets all the weather and it is completely exposed. I will be in awe to watch it weather next winter’s cold and snow.

    It figures that Redbox is actually a subsidiary of McDonald’s who went into it thinking they could use the machines to attract more customers to the restaurants. Leave it to them to figure out one more way to suck us in.