FINE FAREWELL: The Fineline was a Tucson institution, a nightclub where 18- to 20-year-olds and their drinking-age friends -- allowed the draught in a room apart from the dance floor -- could mingle and maffick. In its nearly 17-year existence at 101 W. Drachman St. (from July 1981 to April 1998), the Line never incurred a single liquor code violation, says owner Dick Plowman. Nonetheless, according to Plowman, the City Council has effectively put the Line out of business.
In early 1998, the city notified Plowman that the building was being sold to Pima Community College. A search for a new location uncovered the building at 2520 N. Oracle Rd. -- the former home of restaurants and nightclubs such as Boom Boom's and 2520 -- which had been vacant for about six months. After learning the location had an existing liquor license (the one from the Drachman location was non-transferable), Plowman decided he had found the Fineline a new home. But things weren't quite that easy.
Once at the Oracle spot, he was told the liquor license had been sold to another bar. He fought tenaciously to obtain another license, even inviting City Council members to the club to witness firsthand his intentions of enforcing all liquor codes. "They couldn't be bothered," Plowman flatly states. When he asked why he was being denied the license, he was told that the area was already heavily populated with bars, and his club's accessibility to both non-drinking-age and 21-and-over crowds made it an added risk. With several clubs in town catering to mixed-age clientele, such as The Wildcat House, Gotham and DV8, Plowman is dumbfounded. "If an area is zoned for bars and nightclubs, I don't understand why I couldn't have a club here," he reasons. He is quick to divulge his feeling that personal politics as much as anything contributed to the decision.
"I have no idea why they did this to me," Plowman explains. "I don't know if they were scared by kids dressing in black or what." (The Fineline catered to a decidedly goth crowd.) "But I do know that we took a lot of kids off the street and gave them a place to go, and the city has effectively killed it."
Since announcing the Fineline's closing, Plowman has received dozens of letters and phone calls from club-goers spanning the Line's 18-year existence. Many testify that by giving alienated young adults a welcoming place to go, the club changed their lives. At the farewell bash last Saturday, October 2, the Fineline drew its biggest crowd yet. As the DJ spun Sister Sledge's "We Are Family," teary-eyed well-wishers rolled out a cake in Plowman's honor. The owner spent most of the evening hugging loyal customers as they said their good-byes. "It was a very emotional night," he says.
SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE: Have you been wondering what happened to Robert Palmer, that crooning smoothie so ubiquitous on MTV in the '80s? You remember him: the guy standing in front of the wall of look-alike air-guitar brunettes who were (in his words) "Simply Irresistible." He had a "Bad Case of Loving You" in the late '70s; he was "Addicted to Love," and he "Didn't Mean to Turn You On," but, when you're Robert Palmer, these things happen. And let's not forget, he was a onetime member of Power Station, the Duran Duran side project who scored hits with "Some Like It Hot" and the T. Rex nugget "Get It On (Bang a Gong)."
Well, wherever he's been all these years, he's back and ready for more. The guy's actually got a hell of a blue-eyed soul thing happening, smooth when it's called for, and as gritty as it needs to be. The coolest thing I ever heard about Palmer was that during his '80s heyday, one of the songs he performed live was a cover of Husker Du's "New Day Rising." At least the guy's got good taste.
Catch Robert Palmer's reemergence at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 7, at The Metro, 296 N. Stone Ave. Advance tickets are available for $20 at CD Depot, Strictly CDs, Zip's University, The Metro box office, or by phone at 1-888-244-8444. They'll be $25 on the day of the show. Call 622-3206 for more info.
WANDERLUST: Fans of Celtic music will want to check out Phoenix's Wander the Earth when they hit town this week. Celtic harp, mandolin, banjo, flute, accordion, harmonica and uilliean pipes augment the multi-culti five-piece's traditional Irish sound, in addition to the usual guitars, bass and drums. Catch them when they hit Nimbus Brewery, 3850 E. 44th St., at 9:30 p.m. Friday, October 8. Bluegrass practitioners Degrees Plato commence the festivities at 6 p.m. Cover is cheap, and the pints are tasty. Call 745-9175 for details.
CHILL OUT: One of the nation's top contemporary smooth jazz artists, Richard Elliot, will be in town this week promoting his 11th release, Chill Factor (Blue Note Records), which debuted at No. 7 on Billboard's jazz chart in August. The album shows the tenor and soprano saxophonist, who cut his teeth as a member of the Tower of Power, expanding his repertoire somewhat with a vocal contribution from Siedah Garrett (Brand New Heavies) on "This Could Be Real," a rousing cover version of the soul classic "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," and the go-go beat of "Who?" But longtime fans won't be disappointed by the smooth melodies of "Moomba," "Like Butter" and "Deep Touch." Flugelhornist Rick Braun, who makes a guest appearance on Chill Factor, opens the show and is sure to join Elliot during the latter's set. Richard Elliot and Rick Braun perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 7, on the Rialto Theatre stage, 318 E. Congress St. Tickets are $30.50 (plus a $2 service charge per ticket) in advance, available at all Dillard's outlets, or charge by phone at 1-800-638-4253. For more information, call the theater at 740-0126.
METAL MAYHEM: Fans of the New Metal (the hard 'n' heavy form of rock that's curiously ubiquitous on alterna-rock stations these days) have reason to mosh this week. Sevendust, on the road promoting their second album, Home (TVT Records), which includes the hit song "Denial," headlines a gathering of some of the genre's most promising up and comers. They apparently kicked much ass at this summer's Woodstock '99, as the media has repeatedly referred to their set as one of the festival's breakthrough performances. Opening the show are Machinehead, Orange 9mm (who could very well blow the headliners away with their potent brand of rap-rock) and DDT.
If you just can't get enough of that new Limp Bizkit CD, open your mind to these slightly lesser-known practitioners at 7 p.m. Thursday, October 7, at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave. Advance tickets are $20.92, and available at CD Depot, Strictly CDs and Zip's University. They'll run $23 the day of the show. Any questions? Call the club at 629-9211.
CLEAR SKIES: The end of summer also means the end of the cleverly named Monsoon Madness free outdoor concert series sponsored by the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. Every Thursday of every summer FAMA showcases local talent on the Winsett Park stage, 316 N. Fourth Ave. (just south of Bison Witches). Rounding out this season's series are Agave and Topless Opry on October 7; Gabrielle Pietrangelo and Whatever on October 14; Efene and Rich Hopkins & The Luminarios on October 21; Zero to Sixty and Four Stories Souled on October 28; and on October 30, a Halloween Party with performers to be announced. All shows run from 7 to 10 p.m.
POST HASTE: South By Southwest, which takes place in Austin, Texas, every March, is the world's biggest gathering of music industry folk: from label representatives to managers to promoters to journalists to bands. It's the biggest industry showcase and schmoozefest anywhere. And while it's notoriously tough to secure a showcase slot at the conference, all interested parties should be warned that the first band submission deadline for the March 15-19 SXSW 2000 is fast approaching.
First, you'll need a showcase application. Call (512) 467-7979; visit www.sxsw.com; e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or write SXSW at P.O. Box 4999, Austin, TX 78765. Along with the application, your submission packet should include a CD or cassette of original material, a band photo, press kit and application processing fee. To meet the early submission deadline ($10 processing fee), packages must be postmarked by October 15. The postmark for the late submission deadline ($20 processing fee) is November 15. All submitted materials become the property of South By Southwest, and therefore will not be returned. Acts will be notified no later than February 15, 2000. Good luck, y'all.