You most likely knowas a restaurant, lounge and pre- and post- hangout for Dodger games. What you may not be aware of is the ongoing music and comedy happening every week. To get a better sense of what's happening in Taix's 321 Lounge I caught up with several of the club's bookers below.
In an area that is evolving more with each passing year, Taix remains a sort of guidepost--a rock in the neighborhood. How have you seen the space change over the years?
Mike Taix: It’s been a real roller coaster over the years, going from a super busy old school French/Continental restaurant that closed really early, because few would go out late in Echo Park. Then doing the necessary changes to return to the roots of country French food. Soon we were adding a bit of music from local resident staffers (especially Chris Olson, who has since moved to Austin) that were crying for a music outpost this way, as there was nothing East of Spaceland. Many feel we helped spark the Echo Park scene with that, not that we were had planned it, it just happened. Now we even serve food on busy nights ‘til 1:00am. Lots of change.
Greg Franco: It's like you said, a guidepost, a community center whether you are having a wedding reception, or watching some great band...it's really special.
In terms of booking live music, what is the general philosophy?
Greg Franco: Listen and really take the time...respect anyone who makes the effort and tries to confront their dream. Be nice. We can't book every band...and I usually see bands at other places; sometimes I hunt them down. I'm a musician too, and we need to be courted sometimes. I like good music, I won't present anything too bad, but I make mistakes sometimes too, I'm human.
Are there any genres, or types of artists, you generally avoid and, conversely, what are you most drawn to in terms of booking the space?
Greg Franco: Not loud punk or metallic, but a good indie band or even rock/jazz band can work. We are presenting acts where it's rocking; acoustic instruments, freaky folk, bands that are reverent to a California Country thing, good vibes, generally folky.
What is the rough average in terms of local artists playing the room versus national, touring, outfits?
Greg Franco: One in nine are touring acts.
Mike Taix: Only a few touring groups.
Taix, at present, has three different bookers. Can you tell us a bit about each night?
Mike Taix: Actually four. We have a few different ones for different nights and flavors of the week. Julie Richmond, aka "Carolina Chickadee," books Wednesday, I do Thursday and Saturday, Greg Franco from the band "Rough Church" does Friday nights, and we have "French Toast," a comedy standup on Sunday evenings, booked by Margie Kment and Zack Sherwin.
Wednesday nights are Julie Richmond's "Carolina Chickadee presents" Americana music nights. Featuring mostly local acts, with the occasional out of town artist, you can hear some of LA's best artists from alternative country to bluegrass to hardcore honky-tonk to roots rock.
Julie Richmond: At least once a month I present 'Melody In The Round," an intimate singer-songwriter in the round event featuring four artists swapping songs and sharing stories about the songs they've written and perform.
Greg Franco: This is my first time booking a club, but I've been on the scene for 25 years. I have always booked and managed my bands, and I get out to see young bands all the time. My thing now is to be a nice guy booker, support the folks. I know what it's like to break three strings at a gig, but play the song through, be really sick and still do the show...fix gear, pay rent on a rehearsal space/ keep up a real day job... all that nonsense... It's really important to me that everyone is happy, Mike, the bands, the gals that work Taix, Israel the sound guy. I call the night "P.T.S.C."--Plate Tectonics Social Club.
Folks may not generally associate TAIX with comedy, but you guys have a weekly stand-up comedy night every Sunday.
Mike Taix: It’s turned into a really good stand-up with some really good participants, many of whom are quite well known, but we keep it on the down-low. It’s really good.
In an era where artists are relying more than ever on gigging live, what advice would you have to those looking to gig at Taix?
Greg Franco: Tell them to hit me up on Facebook. They should have YouTube videos, or a MySpace site, Soundcloud on your band's Facebook page...and know that we only pay in supper, (you can feel free to put up a tip jar, and sell your swag). Chances are you will get a gig.
Mike Taix: Be original, persistent, and it helps to be local.