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Club Review : Foothill: From Country to Midweek Alternative Heaven

October 20, 1994|HEIDI SIEGMUND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Foothill is a club connoisseur's dream. The beautifully aging venue in Signal Hill opened its doors in the early '40s as a country & Western club, and since then little has changed visually. The stage, which in its heyday featured such stellar country artists as Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, faces a spacious dance floor and is flanked on three sides by dozens of tables.

The sightlines put those of most live music halls to shame. And although the red felt on the walls and pillar of the 450-capacity club has seen better days, the timeworn effect sets a sumptuous, surreal mood, somewhere between "Twin Peaks" and "Barton Fink."

It's still a country hangout on Saturdays--the house band, the New Tennesseeans, took its name from a Foothill staple of yesteryear--and on Sundays the venue is transformed into a Brazilian dance club. But the most exciting aspect of its current metamorphosis is the new booking policy on Thursdays and Fridays, when booker Steve Zepeda transforms the Foothill into rockabilly, punk and alternative-rock heaven.

Artists such as the Reverend Horton Heat, the Cadillac Tramps and Jawbreaker have graced the antiquated stage in recent weeks, providing Hollywood's clubs with some much needed competition. A recent set by the Supersuckers was the perfect melding between the club's old and new school. After the Seattle-based group performed a cowpunk version of the Patsy Cline hit "Crazy," it took five-dollar requests from the wildly enthusiastic audience.

* The Foothill, 1922 Cherry Ave., Signal Hill. 21 and over, cover varies. (310) 984-8349.

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