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Squashed Toad's

Crumbling walls and old bills lead to another club's passing

Bonehead play of the month: Goat's Head Soup co-owner Antonios Stavropolous was arrested last Tuesday on felony arson charges related to the recent, um, explosion of Goat's Head Soup. According to published reports, witnesses claim to have seen Stavropolous removing items, including an estimated $4,000 worth of lighting equipment, from the soon-to-be-torched venue before the fire. Don't these people have underlings to do their dirty work?

Club closing of the week: Toad's on the Deck joined the long, grim march of live-music ghosts when it closed its doors two Sundays ago, and manager David Stalie, who carried the management contract on the venue with a group of partners, isn't particularly happy about it. According to Stalie, Gary Tyson, who holds the lease on the building that housed Toad's as well as the neighboring Power Tools, stepped in and claimed a breach of contract when the Toad's management team failed to keep its debts current. "We had the rug pulled out from under us, basically," says Stalie, who's a bit younger and perhaps brasher than most of this business' no-comment stalwarts. "He's a real dick. You can quote me on that."

Stalie says he took over management of the previously undistinguished downtown venue in January, assuming some $70,000 worth of club debt in the process. A successful Cuban Benefit Bash earlier this year put the club on the map, and a string of Pace-booked shows, including Shonen Knife and Beck, seemed to have the club heading in the right direction. Stalie claims that the debt had been whittled down to less than $10,000, "and if we'd had another month we might have been able to get over the hump."

Another month, though, wasn't in the cards, and not just because of old bills. Toad's outdoor stage backs up to the Milam Building, which is presently in real estate limbo as the city tries to decide whether to tear it down or designate it a historical landmark. Stalie says the Toad's landlord, who also owns the Milam Building, neglected to tell his tenants that the Milam had been designated unsafe by the city some ten years ago. The recent interest in the property has caused the city to pay more attention to that designation, and to the fact that the Milam's crumbling walls acted as a backdrop to the Toad's activities. Surprise.

Club opening of the week: Toby Blunt's Mary Jane's on Washington Avenue, occupying what used to be the Shimmy Shack and before that the Bon Ton Room, was scheduled to open Wednesday, July 6, though grand-opening celebrations won't be coming until later in the month. The liquor license is in order, and the health department conferred its approval last week, so Blunt plans to have his club up and running seven days a week from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. Blunt has said from the get-go that he wants to run a tavern with occasional live music, as opposed to a live-music place that just happens to sell booze, but in light of the recent rash of club closings around town, I had to ask if he might be reconsidering that position. "I'm looking," he said, "at all offers."

Movers and Shakers: Colleen Fischer, best known for her 14-year tour of duty at the now-defunct Rockefeller's, took over booking responsibility for New Orleans' 20-year-old live music institution Tipitina's on June 28. As reported in this column last week, Tipitina's owner Jim Green is searching for real estate on which to open a Houston Tipitina's, also to be eclectically booked by Fischer, and unidentified redheaded parties will say only that they're in negotiation with several properties and hope to sign on a dotted line by the end of July.

Local Stuff: Houston rock institution The Missiles kisses it all goodbye Friday night with a combination record release (for The Missiles' Last Album), video premiere and farewell show at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, and if you never got enough of the four-piece's underrated guitar rock, this is the last chance to stockpile those memories. Among the band's not inconsiderable accomplishments: getting two Tab Jones songs committed to tape -- something Tab Jones was never able to do on its own. Sounds like the band was supporting the local scene to me, and it seems like a good time to return the favor, however futile. If you'd rather see a new band starting than an old one dying, check out the political world-beat of Kasama at Harvey's, also on Friday. And if you just want to get drunk enough to stretch your local boundaries to include Austin, the so-simple-it's-genius rock of Pork holds court over at Rudyard's.

Saturday night's got one of Texas' premier saxmen, Tony Campise, celebrating the release of Blues, Ballads, Bebop and Beyond at Ovations, and self-exiled homeboys Trout Fishing in America play an early 8 p.m. show at the Satellite before Shoulders tops off the night. Keenlies are at Rudz, Zwee and the Graveberries play the Pig Live and dead horse takes the noise north with a showcase at Hurricane Alley.

Come Sunday, Global Village and Pearl Murray and the Jewels share the bill for Funday in the Park, an every-Sunday sort of event being held at Tidwell Park this week. Deadline calls, and that's all I gots.

 
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