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Chaos and Fun : Eagles Coffee Pub, a venue that recalls the punk scene, offers the range from jazz to indie-rock. It's all outside the mainstream.

July 22, 1994|ABIGAIL GOLDMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTH HOLLYWOOD — Along today's post-Nirvana musical superhighway, no band's origins are too humble, no group is too unpolished, and no music is too offensive--meaning a loud, young band from the San Fernando Valley has as much chance as any to reach the top of the hipsters' hit parade.

And while the Hollywood mainstay clubs increasingly offer better-known fare, North Hollywood's Eagles Coffee Pub and NewsStand Gallery, with a new booker and a new lineup, is more than ready to showcase the newest local talent from the Valley and the rest of Los Angeles.

Eagles started three years ago as a coffeehouse on a funky block of Lankershim Boulevard just north of Magnolia Boulevard. About seven months ago, noting a dearth of hot live-music spots in the Valley, Eagles expanded, adding a small (capacity 60), dark club.

So far, so good.

Three days a week, Eagles' club side is taken over by outside groups. Monday nights are dedicated to storytelling; Tuesdays are for My Secret Place, a folksy-rock open microphone night with an older crowd and an opening set of featured guests; and starting this month, Wednesdays are set aside for the newly christened Caffinated Comedy.

Thursdays through Sundays are for Joe Prignano's brand of outside-the-mainstream music.

Prignano, a 28-year-old NoHo resident, started at Eagles when the cafe opened and became the new club's main booker this month. His goal is to present garage-style, independent-label--or "indie-rock,"--music on Thursdays and Fridays, leave Saturdays as a grab bag of different rock styles and use Sunday nights for a jazz showcase.

"Musically, Eagles offers a place reminiscent of the kind of late-'70s punk scene, where clubs were more open to all types of music," Prignano said. "Everyone comes here, the whole spectrum. There's no real clique group."

Cover charges are rarely more than $4, and the no-alcohol coffee pub is open to all ages.

But it's the eclectic music that ensures a diverse crowd--which, between sets, often spills out onto the sidewalks or next door to the cafe. When Eagles featured a band called Full Frontal Nudity, composed of five students from North Hollywood High School, the small club was packed with the under-18 set. Louder bands draw the nose-ring crowd, and the tamer alternative rock groups bring in the average Valley twentysomethings. Many nights, the club's crowd is a mixture of all of the above, with as many Eagles-goers sporting polo collars and button-down shirts as wearing goatees and Doc Martens combat boots.

On the night Digajiga headlined, 20-year-old Sandra Block of Tarzana tried Eagles for the first time. As many of the concert-goers popped into the cafe for a quick cup of coffee to go and then headed next door to the music venue/magazine stand, Block made her way toward the stage.

Groups of twos and threes walked with her past the long racks of magazines that separate the music space from the newsstand, eyeing titles that range from Off Our Backs, a feminist magazine, to Hustler and National Review.

*

Once in the small back room that serves as the music area, Block hovered near the back, facing the counters and stools that run along two side walls and the few brown tables and chairs in the middle.

The walls are deep yellow and the ceiling is burgundy, giving the room a dim glow. On one wall hang Kevin Christopher's paintings of contorted bodies floating next to seemingly meaningless prose; on the other are framed original comic strips by artist Dave It.

"I like the atmosphere," concluded Block, a student at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. "It has its own style and attitude. People are really friendly--I've already met a few people."

Digajiga, a Los Angeles-based band that calls its music "progressive beatnik acid-jazz," also had its own attitude. Prignano noted proudly that club-goers were unlikely to hear the band's type of satirical lyrics and pounding bongo-funk beat at many other places.

And though there are many in the Valley who would be glad to know where not to go, others have happily found a niche at Eagles.

"Everything here functions on the basis of chaos," Prignano said. "But it works. It makes it fun for everybody."

WHERE AND WHEN

What: Eagles Coffee Pub and NewsStand Gallery.

Location: 5231 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.

Hours: 7 a.m. to midnight Mondays through Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays.

Price: $3-$5 cover for music.

Call: (818) 760-4212.

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