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The Smoking Ban

Has it been good for Houston? A dozen local music figures sound off

Geoffrey Muller, musician in the Sideshow Tramps and a host of other bands: I haven't really noticed a difference. All I do know is our band takes more smoke breaks.

Byron Dean, singer, Poor Dumb Bastards: Being in a band and being a smoker, it absolutely sucks. I think that bars should be exempt from that rule with every rotten lung in my body. Yeah, I feel bad for people that don't smoke and work in bars, but there's plenty of other places those people can work where smoking isn't allowed. I'm a smoker and I don't smoke in restaurants. It's just rude, because people are eating. At a bar, I'ma get my smoke on, mayne.

As for people not going to bars because of the ban, I'm one of those people. I live in Cypress, and I don't go out a whole lot anyway. I usually only go out if it's a band I really, really want to see, or if I'm playing, but if I do, that ban is one of the things I consider, and I typically stay a lot closer to home nowadays. If I go to Rudyard's or the Next Door or Lola's, once I have that third beer, forget it — I'm having a smoke.

Allen Hill, bandleader, the Allen Oldies Band: I wasn't a fan of how it became law, but now that it is here, I love it both as a showgoer and a performer. As a performer, I think it gets rid of a lot of the hidden wear and tear of playing a gig, because when you are up on stage, you get twice as much smoke as the people out in the audience because you are above everybody else.

Tom McLendon, owner, The Big Easy: It certainly hasn't helped business. I personally prefer it as a nonsmoker, but I've noticed that once people go outside to have a smoke, it's easier for them to just head on home than come back inside for another drink. And it really hurts, because business is bad right now, not just for us but for the whole ­economy.

Thomas Escalante, singer in the El Orbits and the owner of record store Sig's Lagoon: It's been refreshing. I don't have a headache in the morning, I don't feel like I have a hangover after two beers. I'm surprised it's taken this long. From a musician's point of view, I sing better now, can hit higher notes and don't feel like I've swallowed glass after two songs. Has it hurt business? Maybe a bit, but it's like wearing a seat belt. You just get used to it. If clubs depend on smoking to stay in business, maybe they aren't really in ­business.

JJ White, singer-guitarist, Dizzy Pilot: As a nonsmoker I was against it, and I am still against it after the ban. Bars are supposed to greet you with the aroma of alcohol and nicotine.

Pete Mitchell, owner, Under the Volcano: I'm really confused. So much of the feel of my place has changed. The regulars have been shifted to the patio, and there's not that banter with the bartenders there used to be. Ultimately, though, I think this is a time of transition, and my gut feeling is that people will just smoke less in the future. More people will just give up.

Brad Moore, owner, the Pearl Bar: Mike Simms told me a funny story about the Dwarves show at Rudyard's a while back. The Dwarves are kinda infamous for doing 20-minute sets, but this time they played for 45 whole minutes. They wanted to do an encore, but the whole room had cleared out as soon as they finished; everybody had stampeded out to the patio. Their fans weren't expecting them to play that long, and all of them went to go smoke as soon as they were done.

Miss Leslie, singer in Miss Leslie and the Juke Jointers: The smoking ban has been fine, but you have to get used to watching half your audience walk out to go smoke in the middle of your set.

John Egan, singer-songwriter: Who fucking cares? What's everybody getting so bent out of shape about one way or the other? It's less smoky. Big deal.

john.lomax@houstonpress.com

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