by Lorri Whiteside -
When it comes to venues, Studebaker Hawk has played some great stages; then there are the other establishments, many of somewhat dubious decor. The San Fernando Valley, home of the world’s most “creative” automobile driving, is also home to some of the world’s most, shall I just say interesting, venues.
Let’s start with Le Cannon. This fine establishment was a typical neighborhood bar at the back corner of a strip mall near Topanga Canyon and Ventura Blvd. The new owner wanted to upgrade it to a fun little bar, but the bar didn’t last long. The first time the band played there, it was a decent night. The band area was small and whenever someone wanted to use the facilities, Gary had to rock the headstock upward on his bass so people could pass down the hall. Not ideal, but the crowd was appreciative and so the band booked another gig. The second time, the crowd was a bit unruly. At the end of the night, there was a “discussion” with the owner about the pay and Dan vowed to never return. To top off an already bad night, at 2:30 a.m. after everyone else had gone, Dan and I were still in the alley loading the drums and PA into the truck. We were finally ready to leave when Dan realized he had forgotten to load the dolly. Now, you must understand that the gear only fits one way and is like playing Tetris. The dolly should have loaded much earlier in the process. Doh! Rather than unload, Dan hurled the dolly down the alley and we drove away. That dolly is probably still rolling.
The now defunct Studio Suite was another typical small strip mall bar located somewhere on Riverside Dr. in Studio City. This place at least had a stage, albeit barely adequate. Studio Suite could have been decent had they invested a little bit of money, but instead, we remember it as the venue where smoke began billowing out of the ceiling vents one night. It was determined that the air conditioning unit had caught on fire and so they simply turned off the A/C. Problem solved. This was also the place where I learned to “hover” over the commode because the seat was cracked and if you sat on it, it would pinch your ass. Ask me how I know. Gary’s truck got tagged in the parking lot one night and one of our followers had an issue with the bar staff that became somewhat ugly but was diffused. One redeeming quality about Studio Suite was the great Mediterranean takeout joint two doors down. The photo features Studio Suite in all its glory.
Pat’s Cocktails, a popular bar on Riverside Dr. in Studio City, was featured in the show “Bar Rescue” a couple of years ago. Studebaker Hawk played there numerous times pre-rescue. Pat’s did not have a band area as such, so the guys had to set up in front of the ATM machine at the end of the room. Unfortunately, whenever a patron wanted to use the ATM, Dan had to make room so they could extract their cash. Dan was less than happy about this, but might have felt differently if more of said cash made it into the tip jar. The patrons were an odd assortment of questionable characters that loved their billiards. At the end of a song, there was frequently a lack of applause. Crickets. A real buzzkill for sure. For that matter, the band was barely acknowledged at all some nights, although the management loved them, or so they said. Then at the end of the night, people would come up to the band and say, “Wow, you guys are really great! When are you coming back?” Really? Are you sure you were here?
Volare was a very nice restaurant and lounge on the north end of the valley just above the 118. A higher class of patrons frequented the lounge and the owner was pleased with the younger female clientele that Studebaker Hawk brought in. Volare did have trouble occasionally and we saw security kick some unruly guy in the kadiddlehopper out back one night, dropping him to the ground. For the most part, it was a decent place to play, at least right up until the day that the place burned to the ground. The rumor circulated that the owner wanted the insurance money and set the place ablaze. We never knew for sure. RIP Volare.
Other valley venues included a weird place called Aussie Bob’s where one of our former followers had a meltdown one night, and The Wild. Both are no more. A drunken girl danced into and toppled the Christmas tree at The Wild one night. Bar patrons and Christmas trees apparently don’t mix as we also experienced this phenomena at Simi’s Judge Roy Bean’s.
Mani’s was a very nice new venue at the east end of Simi. Mike Caliendo, formerly of the Treehouse, worked security and recommended the band to the owner. The owner talked a good story, but the truth was that he would try to find a way to not pay the band what they were promised. Studebaker Hawk only played there a couple of times because of this. The last time, the owner specifically asked us to keep the doors closed as we loaded out because of ongoing complaints from the neighbors. We kept closing the door behind us with each load but a pool-shooting drunk girl kept defiantly opening it and looking at me with “I dare you” looks. In one of my less than finer moments, on the last trip out, I flipped her the bird and we exchanged unpleasantries. Now she’s pissed and her very large boyfriend is getting upset. Dan, not happy with me, told me to get in the truck. Drum gear can make a great weapon, and Dan had a heavy stand in his hands just in case, but we managed to get away without an altercation. Mani’s didn’t last long and it’s too bad because it could have been a great place.