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Making the Scene ... in Glendale?

July 18, 2002|HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It's a Wednesday night in Glendale, and the Scene Bar is where it's at. They've got two turntables and a microphone and Sam Velde from Bluebird is DJing--rocking the house with heavy helpings of the Stooges, the Who and the Jam. The last thing you'd expect to find midweek in Glendale is a hot nightclub with Eastside hipsters packing the place as if it were the Short Stop on a weekend.

Well, it's not so surprising when you consider that Short Stop co-owner Dave Neupert, who transformed the legendary cop bar into Echo Park's favorite hang, is the guy behind the Scene.

I thought he was just being cheeky when he told me his new Glendale club was called the Scene Bar, but he says that's been the name for 40 years. And over those years, the Colorado Boulevard watering hole had decayed into something out of "Barfly." It had become a community blight, but Neupert and manager Carl Lofgren saw potential.

One of a band of smart young barkeeps--Mitchell Frank of Spaceland/The Echo and Bobby Green of the Bigfoot Lodge among them--Neupert continues to push the geographical boundaries of where scenesters are willing to go for fun.

First rule: If you're going to make people drive to Glendale for night life, you have to be willing to provide it. Even industry players who live in Glendale may be leery of opting to spend the night in their own neighborhood when Hollywood, Silver Lake and the Atwater draw, the Bigfoot Lodge, are short night-crawls.

But the 4-week-old Scene Bar has a plan: It's brought Silver Lake and Hollywood to you. And its beaten-down roadhouse look gives it a dusty, Southern appeal, as if you've just landed in Texas and Patrick Swayze is kicking someone's rear out back. The interior is simple, and the backyard--with a circular barn and a huge dirt area--looks like the Hootenanny in miniature.

Neupert and his partners, Kevin Regan and Michael Barnes, have stocked the place with DJs seven nights a week and are filling the summer calendar with beer bashes and live music. They're also booking bands from the Eastside scene, the psychedelic rock quartet Bluebird among them.

Speaking of Bluebird, the night Velde teams up with Buddyhead's Travis Keller to spin some records, has turned into one of the coolest things to do on a Wednesday. Last week, everyone was representing L.A.-style and getting treated to excellent rock 'n' roll by the Rolling Stones, the Saints and Stone Roses, a sweet-smelling blend. The guests took advantage of the club's two pool tables and rounded bar.

One way the Scene Bar is very unlike its Hollywood counterparts: Despite its residential location, its owners haven't received any noise complaints and, in fact, have been embraced by the community.

Apparently, Glendale rocks.

The Scene Bar, 806 E. Colorado Blvd., Glendale, (818) 241-7029. 21 and older. Open daily 6 p.m.-2 a.m.

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