While much of Texas is on fire, some of the smoke has cleared after a rather turbulent weekend. What began with last Thursday's sale of The Mink and continued with a flurry of accusations from both sides has now shifted into focus, as both sides seem determined to make their own success.
Rocks Off spoke with Mark Jones, former general manager and minority owner of The Mink, Wednesday to clear up some of the deal. While the sale came as a bombshell to the staff, Jones informed us that it had been in the works for a few weeks. A confidentiality agreement had prevented him from discussing the sale until after it was completed, he said, adding that he took umbrage with accusations that The Mink had been "hemorrhaging money."
"We weren't saved, we were sold," he said.
Jones continued to express his love for the bar. "I owe The Mink everything," he said. "I met my wife there; it gave me my family."
It was clear that for Jones, family was a term that meant more than just his wife and kids. "I'm truly grateful for Geoff Long, the main investor, for the commitment he'd made to me, and for my wife, having understood the hours I kept.
"And I'm grateful for every single person I've come in contact with, sitting and talking to, or doing business with - whether it be staff, a band, a writer, photographer, caterer, any of that. It's been the greatest six years of my life."
Amidst the turmoil, much of the Mink's former staff quit over the course of the weekend. It didn't take long for them to find a new home, however, as former Mink bartender and Roky Moon & BOLT frontman Mike Hardin declared on Facebook Monday night:
"I refused to let my [Mink] family fall apart. I'm happy to say that with the help of good ol' Eric Dean we have a new home!"
The group has moved over to Mango's, filling some staffing holes. "We're like a club. I'm not allowing our club to be broken up," Hardin told Rocks Off Tuesday night.
Dean, meanwhile, confirmed that no existing Mango's staff had been let go in order to make room for the new employees. Instead, he pulled himself out from behind the bar and is purely focused on general-manager duties. Regarding the decision to bring on the former Mink crew, Dean called it a "no-brainer."
"Brandon [Lemons] books good shows, and now I don't have that competition," he said Tuesday. "If I've got an all-star basketball squad, but I'm missing a power forward and somebody offers me Michael Jordan, I'm not turning that down. I'm always an optimist... it can't hurt anything. Give it a month and it'll be unstoppable."
For thrifty drinkers, both bars are now running $1 well nights - still Tuesdays at The Mink, and now on Wednesdays at Mango's. When we dropped by Tuesday to speak with new Mink owner Danielle Wegner, the bar's once-thriving crowd was sparse, however.
"We're not taking away their hangout," Wegner insisted. "We wouldn't have bought this particular bar if we wanted to change it. The only thing we're changing is how this business is run. A lot of things need to be repaired."
For those worrying about the bathrooms being fixed, that's on the list.
Hoping to dispel some rumors that have been circulating over the past several days, Wegner added, "We're not closing; we didn't fire anyone, we're not doing away with all the music, we're not turning it into a 'gay bar.'"
She hesitated following the final statement, as if in fear that the gay community would feel unwelcome.
"That's not what I'm implying," she continued. Some of the post-sale conversation has centered on Wegner and her partner's sexual orientation, something that she doesn't believe applies: "We want everyone to feel welcome."
For Wegner, that certainly includes the bar's existing customers.
"The clientele can either support us, or we'll be forced to go in a different direction," she admitted.
When we inquired what to expect regarding live music, Wegner replied, "We don't have licensing to do cover bands, so we won't have that. We want good people that love what they do, that bring a following."
Something that has been less certain for everyone involved is the current show calendar at both venues, and for many bands involved, this uncertainty has been unsettling. Both Brandon Lemons, who had been handling the booking for The Mink prior to the sale, and Wegner have been reaching out to acts.
For Wegner, the process has been compounded.
"I don't know how to contact any of these people," she said Tuesday. "Stop in, call the Mink. Contact me. I know we can work this out."
She declined to provide a phone number or email where she could be reached directly, though, stating she didn't want to invite "a bunch of hate mail." The club's phone number is 713-522-9985.
Lemons confirmed that the September 27 Acid Baby Jesus/Mikey & The Drags/Hell Shovel/Psychic Palms show had moved to Mango's, along with "a handful of others after I get Mango's lined out."
Tonight's Star & Micey show with The Wheel Workers and Featherface was cancelled, as well as tomorrow's Black Cat Friday. Omotai bassist Melissa Lonchambon wrote in to inform us that the Cough/Project Armaggedon/Omotai/Kai/Ros show scheduled for Saturday is still at The Mink. DJ Dan Castillo's Scared to Dance will go ahead as scheduled in the front room, with guest DJ Cookie Tusweet.
Jeremy Hart at Space City Rock reported that the Sanctus Bellum/Las Cruces/All Dead Here show on September 16 will still be at The Mink, as well as the Titan Blood/The Energy/Weird Party/The Mahas show on November 19 - at least tentatively.
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In a message on the Hands Up Houston forum today, Lemons said the following shows would be at Mango's:
PILE is being added to a pre-existing bill 9/15
9/23: Mobley, Osirus, Deep Ella, We Were Wolves
9/27: Acid Baby Jesus, Hell Shovel, Mikey & The Drags, Psychic Palms
9/28: Rogue Improve Presents: Get Weird Wednesday
9/29: The Mild Mannered, The A.M. Prowlers, Grog
10/5: La Sien, Making Movies, Pop Pistol, Bang Bangz
10/22: The Black
10/27: Matthew Mayfield