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ROCKTALK : Charlie's Finale : After years of offering the best local music around, the nightspot will be following a different drummer.

October 01, 1992|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Charlie's, one of Ventura's hottest places for local bands, will soon be no more. It is finally going the way of Chucky, that mean doll in those crummy knife movies. Outta here. Raging Arb & the Redheads and some friends will provide the soundtrack for the venue's swan song on Sunday, Oct. 4, which is really the last, last day of operations.

Don't wanna spoil it for you, but there's no Charlie. The owner's name is Steve Siegel and he lives in Los Angeles. There's also no Santa Claus, no Easter Bunny, Elvis is dead, the Dodgers are in last, the Rams stink . . .

Charlie's is the place on the beach. Just follow some cops, any cops, who'll lead you there. Busted earlier this year for not having a dancing permit, Charlie's is the place with the "No Dancing Allowed" sign on the wall behind the stage. People break the law with regularity and dance anyway.

Charlie's is going to become a fish restaurant, which is perfect. Charlie's has provided a stage for local musicians for the past 10 years and the bands are going to be fish out of water until some new venue asserts itself.

Charlie's used to be a jazz place when it opened in 1976. It's always been a restaurant--the food's pretty good too. A couple of years ago, they knocked out a wall and doubled the size of the building.

Acoustically, the place is fine, but the music sounds the best inside the men's bathroom upstairs, not exactly the cultural center of the universe. Who knows why?

Between now and the party-ender, you can buy a souvenir T-shirt to prove you were really there if the police blotter is not your style. The shirt is full of typos, but at least they spelled "Charlie's" correctly. And some of the mighty cool bands that have played there are listed on the back:

Memorable rockin' blues from Raging Arb & the Redheads. High-powered, country-flavored rock by the Mudheads. Sweet-sounding pop rock from Durango 95. Folk blues from Michael On Fire. Nervous, alternative rock from Something For Nothing and the I-Rails. Put-on speed metal from Night Diamond. Rockin' reggae from Lion I's and Urban Dread. Stirring folk music from Matt & Bill. And a lot of beer.

The last Charlie's gig will begin about 5 p.m. on Sunday with Ariel, followed by Rude Mood, J. D.'s Last Ride and Raging Arb.

Below, several of the usual suspects involved in the Charlie's scene share their most vivid memory of the joint:

*

"The last 10 years was sort of a blur. I remember when we used to play at Andy's with the Bombers, and the same guy owned both places. Charlie's used to be a jazz place, and we were sort of the first ones to get the place rocking. And it's fitting that we should end it."

Toby Emery, Raging Arb & the Redheads

*

"I remember one time I found twenty bucks on the floor after we played. They sure never paid us."

Dave Girtsman, Plato's Cat, Mudheads, Big Biscuit Express

*

"I remember one time when Bill Bolland pulled down my pants outside the door and I didn't have any underwear on."

Dave Ragsdale, Mudheads, Screwtape

*

"All I know is that Charlie's was there for us when there was nowhere else to play for us. Charlie's was always a great place for us to play."

Spencer Barnitz, Spencer the Gardener

*

"One time this guy named Cadillac was supposed to do the lights for us when I was in the Crashing Plains, but he forgot his board and all his stuff. So he just stood in the back and flipped the lights off and on."

Matt Schulte, Crashing Plains, Matt & Bill, Screwtape

*

"The first night I worked here, I was working the back bar and Raging Arb was playing that night. I was humming "I'm a Man," and when they started playing, that was their first song, and they dedicated it to me. I thought that was pretty cool for a guy that just got here from New York."

Mark Brockway, bartender

*

"About five or six months ago, we were playing with Raging Arb. There were Santa Ana winds, a full moon and it was Friday the 13th. There were about ten fights and about twelve cop cars. And the power went out and we only had one power source. The ground was messed up and we kept getting shocked all night long."

Scott Morris, Durango 95, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

*

"My most vivid memory of Charlie's is all the times I've forgotten about being there. Just getting so blotto and forgetting what I did."

Walter Stowe, Hidden Agenda, Chunk

*

"One time when Raging Arb was playing, a lot of police came and one of the cop cars got turned over by the crowd in the parking lot. Then there was the time when the Canadian tourist girls came in late and stayed later. They ended up dancing on the tables. I've got pictures."

Andy Wright, bartender, door guy

*

"One night, this woman went upstairs into the bathroom and climbed up through the acoustic tiles in the ceiling. We heard this big crash downstairs when she fell through the roof and crashed into the office below . . . Another time, the cops were mowing people down in the breezeway with stun guns. I think Raging Arb was playing that time, too."

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