Cardi's Documentary Revisits Houston's '80s Metal Mecca

In the early '80s, Cardi's was the place in Houston for the rising world of metal to play. The club on Westheimer and Fountainview, which has since become Spotlight Karaoke, hosted Metallica, Dokken and a plethora of other iconic names before it was shut down with no notice in 1985.

A man named Hank Balz refuses to let the legends that were formed there fade away. He has spent every dime he has interviewing and transferring VHS memories in order to put together a documentary about that magical time. Tonight at the Concert Pub on Richmond, he will unveil some of the finished product, titled The Adventures of Hank Balz and Cardi's ROCKumentary.

"Working at Cardi's and the music that was happening there was everything to me," says Balz. "And I refuse to let that go undocumented. It was a club and a scene as iconic as CBGBs, and it deserves to be remembered."

Balz has pushed himself relentlessly to cobble together the addled memories of bands like Sweet Savage, Excalibur, WW3, and King's X (before they were King's X) into a coherent narrative. Currently, the film runs 45 minutes, and Balz is remaining in Houston for three more months in hopes to gather more images, video, and interviews.

Much of the film was shot at the original venue itself, giving people who haven't stepped foot inside for 30 years a chance to heal old wounds and bask in their former glory. Balz has also picked up an incredible piece of history by having all the interviewed musicians signed a Rock 101 KLOL banner that stolen by a patron during a live broadcast at the club, who has since donated it to the rockumentary's cause.

"This is not about me," says Balz. "This is about a scene that touched thousands of people. This is about who we were."

Balz's claims of community-mindedness are unassailable. Cover for the Concert Pub screening can be waived by bringing a toy for Toys for Tots. Additionally, guitars and other memorabilia will be auctioned off to benefit AIDS and autism research. After the screening, patrons can pay $15 to board a bus and travel around the city to all the lost and defunct clubs, ending up at the old Cardi's itself for a second screening.

"I think it's great that people are getting back together and remembering what good times were had at the original Cardi's," says Spencer Selph, local filmmaker and booker for CONNECTMTS Entertainment Agency. "And the fact that Hank and others are documenting it is very cool for those who weren't there to see what the music scene was and still is in Houston."

Any who would be interested in being a part of the Cardi's story should contact Balz at spuncookieproductions@yahoo.com, or 760-815-0440.

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