My last post was all gloom and doom about the very sad closing of the Southern Pacific Smokehouse. It was disappointing to see something that was sorely needed in Marin County close its doors after such a short time. We really do need more and better music venues. But alas, it looks like the Smokehouse may be gone for good. They held an auction earlier this week, selling off all of their restaurant equipment. Not a good sign...
But fear not. Good things are afoot. No less than three new music venues are opening in Marin, and they all promise to be very exciting.
The first of the venues is one that most of you have probably already heard about, Terrapin Crossroads. Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead has taken over the old Seafood Peddler restaurant. To quote from the Terrapin Crossroads website:
...a community cultural and educational center. We plan to celebrate the arts – music, culinary, poetry, dance, literature, visual arts including photography, theatre, and other creative endeavors – so aside from a performance space and restaurant, Terrapin Crossroads will also host art exhibits, have an art-and-music-themed library and reading room, memorabilia displays, and a beautiful, comfortable place where friends can meet to exchange ideas over a glass of wine or a drink, a terrific meal, and of course hear some great music. We’ll also be a place for teaching and learning: in addition to regular musical performances, we will offer curated conversations with celebrated visionaries, luminaries, characters, and eccentrics, discussing topics ranging from cosmology to history to environmental issues to building team spirit and beyond.
What this will all mean is yet to be seen. But, based on the fact that Phil Lesh is involved, and he intends include a performance space, I expect we will see a great stage with a first class sound system. Let's all be sure to send them a note suggesting that Miracle Mule play there! For more information about Terrapin Crossroads, visit their website, terrapincrossroads.com.
The venerated Mill Valley Sweetwater, which hosted some now legendary shows, like John Lee Hooker, Carlos Santana, Jerry Garcia, Elvis Costello and Bonnie Raitt, is coming back. After closing five years ago, is set to reopen this week. The Sweetwater has found a new home, in the old Masonic Hall in downtown Mill Valley across the street from the fire station. It is set to open on January 27. For more information visit www.sweetwatermusichall.com.
A group of investors from the music industry have purchased the building that used to house See's Candies in downtown 4th street. They are planning a new supper club featuring live music, chef prepared dinners and a full bar. The opening date has not been announced, but if you drive by, you'll see that construction is under way and it can't be too far off. My guess is early spring. Perhaps they can open for my birthday! Check out their website www.fenixlive.com.
All is not gloom and doom for live music in Marin County. We have a lot of great things to look forward to and you have a lot of places where you can find your favorite equine swamp band, Miracle Mule. Be sure to pop into these venues and mention Miracle Mule. Be assured we will be getting our press packs together to get on their events calendar.
The rumors are true. The Southern Pacific Smokehouse, Marin County's newest and possibly nicest music venue, has closed after less than a year. The Smokehouse opened to great fanfare, and some decent reviews of the restaurant. Located in Vintage Oaks, the smokehouse had a decent restaurant, and a first class music venue that seated up to 140. It was the music venue that I was most excited about. There are no stages for live music in Novato. None. This city of 70,000 people has a dearth of entertainment options, and the smokehouse was going to change all that.
But, after just 6 months or so, it looked like trouble for the smokehouse. I had noticed few recognizable names playing there. The booking was not going well. If you peeked in the door you would have seen it too. The club was empty. Reports were coming back of bands playing to empty rooms while waiters and bartenders just stood around waiting for guests who never arrived. In my opinion, this club had several things going against it:
It is incredibly sad to me that this venue is now history. Both the restaurant and the music venue have closed, and Novato is once again without any live music (Finnegan's, thank you for supporting live music, but without a stage you don't really count.) I suspect the lead investors in the Smokehouse never really had their heart in it. They had some investors who were very interested in the music, but they were fired in September after the audience never materialized.
What could the Smokehouse have done differently? For starters, address the items on the list above. I truly believe that North Marin can support a live music venue. But it has to be done right, and it has to be given a year to build up an audience. Once people find the venue, and have some god experiences, then you can expect to have a regular cleintele show up. But it takes about a year for that to happen. The Smokehouse wasn't given a year, and it failed at marketing, so it was doomed.
But we still have Georges in San Rafael and Nicasio Ranch in Nicasio. Those are the last two big music houses we have in Marin. Let's make sure we support these two venues so they don't suffer the same fate as the Smokehouse. Get off your butt and go see some live music!
For those of you who missed out on Miracle Mule's CD Release Party, or who weren't able to get in (sorry about that!) no worries, because we are doing it again. Miracle Mule is playing a show this Saturday, November 19th.
If you have never been to the Southern Pacific Smokehouse, in Novato, this is your chance to see Marin's newest premier stage. They have a first class sound system, a great bar, and a tasty dinner menu.
Miracle Mule will be hitting the stage at 8:30 and we promise to make this a special event with lots of surprises!
Miracle Mule has been added as a late addition to the Jorgensen's House Concert on October 1. I went to their house concert last week and saw some great music in a beautiful setting. They have a terrific location for outdoor live music.
Doors open at 6pm. Miracle Mule will play from 6:30 to ~8-ish, followed by the Courtney Janes and Tim & Nicky Bluhm. Cost is $20 and includes beer. A taco truck will be on hand for an inexpensive dinner choice. Bring your own wine. RSVP here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=165503836865673
It is a little bit like sending a kid off to college. They are out of the house and you've done all that you'll ever be able to do to raise them. Now they have to survive on their own two feet.
I hit the submit button today, sending the CD off to the press. They are duplicating the CDs and printing the CD cases now. No more fiddling wih mixes, song order, cover art... I'm done. Truth be told, I could have tweaked and messed with these songs forever, but past a certain point, what difference does it really make? If the songs are good, let them be.
The picture here is a mockup of the CD Art, printed on my home printer. We are getting digipacks, which means that it won't be one of those plastic jewel cases. It'll be cardboard, with a little plastic insert where you place the disk. Digipacks cost a lot more than standard jewel cases, but they are worth it. The package looks so much better. Plus it has less than have the plastic and is made of recycled paper.
The songs on the CD are all great, with three original tunes thrown in and several original arrangements. Plus the recordings sound amazing. You'd never be able to tell that this was recorded, engineered, mixed, produced, etc, by an amateur (me) in a bedroom studio (the computer I'm using right now.) This CD is the real deal. I'm super pleased that we'll be able to give people their money's worth. Great songs, good sound, and just an all-around terrific CD for listening.
But don't take my word for it. You can hear a pre-press mix of one of the songs at http://www.facebook.com/miraclemule, and you can pick up a disk at the CD release party Oct 6th at the Souther Pacific Smokehouse.
Miracle Mule had a great time at the Clif Family Farms on Saturday. These are the folks that make Clif Bar and they have a wonderful piece of property in the Pope Valley with an organic farm and some delicious wines (I recommend the Zinfandel.) It took us about an hour to get there after winding through some roads that I'd never seen before, then about an hour to set up in the venue they'd set up. As you can see from the pictures, it was outdoors, set in the ruins of an old farmhouse. The acoustics were incredible in there.
Shortly after we arrived, guests started showing up. There were tables scattered across the lawn with wine and foods, and people were just milling about enjoying the scenery. It was about 6:00pm and the weather was absolutely perfect. The skies were clear, there was a hint of a breeze and it was about 75 degrees out. Perfect. Then the pizza oven was fired up.
We kicked into our set with Ain't Got No Home, followed by Train In Vain and Stuff You Gotta Watch, and people started to wander into the ruins to see the band and dance. After about 20 minutes we had the place filled to capacity and we stopped for a short break so that the folks from Clif Family Farms could address the crowd. I was able to enjoy some of that pizza and a few other delectables before we went back on.
Then the Mules kicked it into high gear and played two more long sets. We had that place swinging. We love it when there are kids running around. We give them shakers and really get them into it. There's nothing like seeing a bunch of kids swinging their booties to some Mule music.
The night ended with a surprise. Gary, the owner of the place (you can see him in the pictures; he's the guy with the Clif jacket) showed up shortly into our last song, Miracle Mule, with a trumpet. That song is in the key of E, which is not a terrific key for a trumpet, but he worked a little magic and made it work. The first solo break came around, and I gave him a nod, and off he went. We'd never played with a trumpet before, so we were a little hesitant, but it worked. Gary was a terrific player, and we managed to bend the song a little to bring out the jazzy undertones and it started to cook. We started trading solos between trumpet, accordion and pedal steel, and even a little electric guitar. There were still about 60 people left in the ruins at the point and they were glued. They were as surprised as we were to hear trumpet solos coming from the stage, and they loved it.
All in all it was a great night and it is why I keep playing music. When you are really lucky and everything falls into place, music cvan bring joy like nothing else.
Until next time, keep kickin'!
I just received a link to a poster for the Clif Family Winery Annual Harvest Party, taking place on September 17th this year. These are the folks that own Clif Bar. Miracle Mule will be playing the party and they are gearing up for a terrific event. It will be set in the ruins of an old stone building out among the vineyards, and there will be tons of wine, food and music. Price is $50 to get in.
Click on the poster for a closer look at the details, pictures, etc. You can find more about Clif Family Winery at http://www.cliffamilywinery.com.
Miracle Mule has been invited back to play Peri's Silver Dollar Bar in Fairfax this Wednesday. It is "Swing Dancing Wednesday" at Peri's, where they hold swing dancing classes earlier in the day, and invite the dancers to stick around and practice what they've learned with some live music. This should be a ton of fun for Miracle Mule because we love to pack the dance floor. Last time we played we had a room full of line dancers and boy is that fun!
Here's the details:
Come on down. No cover charge. Be sure to have a designated driver. We'll be encouraging LOTS of drinking, but we want y'all to be safe on the way home.
In the off-chance that you don't know where Peri's Silver Dollar Bar is located, here's a little map to help you find your way.
See you Wednesday!
Our people loved Miracle Mule and wanted to have them back next year. They were absolutely the greatest band we've had in years.
Paul Liberatore - Marin Independent Journal
As musicians, the guys in this band are no joke... you might not be able to stand still.
Miracle Mule is the swampy tonk dance band that everybody is talking about.
With well over 50 songs in the repertoire Miracle Mule can play over three hours of entertaining danceable music. Most songs are covers with a few originals thrown in just for fun. Some songs in the current set list include: