Monday, Rocks Off learned from community message board Hands Up! Houston that the organizer behind the long-running Secret Saturday shows at Shady Tavern was leaving the venue. The split was far from pleasant, from what SSS booker J.D. Tucker told us and the rest of the Houston music scene via e-mail yesterday.
Profiled by John Nova Lomax last year in the weekly happening's infancy, Secret Saturday was seen as a godsend, a shot in the arm for a Houston that at the time was still getting used to the smoking ban, while venues closing left and right had all of us in a tizzy. SSS were a booming new avenue for Houston bands, with a self-explanatory setup: No one knew who would be playing except the bands involved that week, and even the bands didn't who they would be playing with or the set times.
Photo by Dusti Rhodes
SSS helped foster fast friendships and on-the-fly collaborations among genres and scenes that hardly ever commingled. At the time of Lomax's article, the relationship between Shady's owner, Tucker and his wife Stacy was a heavenly one. Tucker was free to book his shows, and the owner enjoyed healthy bar sales for the Heights icehouse.
They even had a two-day festival last August that Rocks Off live-blogged. However, amid allegations of sexism and unfair work practices, the end came this weekend with a final blowout between the owner and the SSS crew.
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Ume, "Hurricane," live at the Secret Saturday Festival
According to Tucker's email, the SSS crew had been keeping the bar alive, while the owner had been running off his handful of regular drinkers as of late with his temper. He had also not been making improvements to the facilities and had routinely been verbally abusive, Tucker says. The sexist claims were not elaborated on, and Rocks Off tried to contact the owner several times with no luck.
Tucker went on to say that the recent Heights bar boom had not been treating Shady well, with the new Big Star around the corner racking up hipster points and the Anglo-centric Cedar Creek as the neighborhood's new yuppie-billy watering hole in the neighborhood.
SSS' future is wide open. Tucker plans on a big event at the end of the month, and a roster of rotating venues for shows, possibly including some extremely secret shows being held off the beaten path - think outdoors, wooded areas, that sort of thing. - Craig Hlavaty