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Detriot's Showcase Theatre:

Detriot's Showcase Theatre: image Detriot's Showcase Theatre: image
Parent Issue
Day
15
Month
October
Year
1975
OCR Text

There was no one n the box office dn a Tuesday evening and one of the lobby doors was unlocked, so we stepped inu the gloom of the large foyer of the Showcase Tlieatre and blinked back al the darkness. John Salvador, barely visible, siretched out his hand and voiced, "Hey, c'mon in, the Average White Band is in there practicing and it's pretty nice in here today." Sure enougli. the young soul stirrers from Scotland were arrayed across the stage, rambling loosely tlirougii some new material, and the Showcase staff was busy making sure the band would get the most out of their stay. AWB had a day off from touring and wanted to spend it rehearsing before hitting the 1MA in Flint on Wednesday. The Atlantic Records man had called Salvador, and presto, here they were, everything in order, grinding away on the choicest rehearsal stage in town. The Showcase Theatre. on Harper just off Van Dyke. ín cunently in iis ihird recent [ncarnation as a music venue- it's been opened twice before. in 1969 and again in 1973, as the Eastown-and John Salvador is the person who's put logcther the Showcase trip. 1 laving the AWB jamming on his stage in the middle of the afternoon fits right in with his plans, and the only question now seems to be haw long it will take him to reali.e his aspirations for the place. Salvador's had a lot of hard luck trying to come up with a small concert hall. you sec. staiüng back in 1971 and continuing until -well. this past weekend, fot example. when Toots & the Maytals cancelled out the day before they were to mount the Showcase siage for theír first Detroit performance ever. Toots was sick. it appeared. hut that didn'i help cover the advertising that was already placed, the other bands already contracted, the potential audience's dreams of rcggae glory blown up to proper proportion. But Salvador has had so many terrible experiences of this nature that one must simply admire his remarkable perseverance and his unshakeable commkment to provide the Detroit music community with a 2000-seat showcase theatre ment. The trip startod in 1971. when Salvador and two partners began looking al ihe Tumbleweed Ballroom in Walled Lake as a means by wliich to hegin to replace the ballroom scène ui two and three years before. That didn t work out. and m 1972 they lurned to the historie Grande Ballroom itselt' as the site of tlieir rejuvenatiön concerts, Ted Nugent. the MC-5, VVishbone Ash. and otlier bands. mostly fi om the Detroit área, were sented in dance concerts at the Grande on a fairly sporacöe basis, related clirectty to their ability to nut bilis together which would draw enough people to make iliom work. As Salvador and liis partners; Joe Peraino and Whitey Halberg, ïr'u' more successful wiih ilion Grande gigs. the Ballroom's cr-Gabe Glantz got the familiar tecüng Ihat lie would take all of the action himselt'. He set li ís son Steve up, according to Salvador, to liire the sanie bands tor the most desirable dales MI the Grande's calendar, thus naiunvmg the trio's effect i ve choices down to uno: get oul of t lie Grande. They did ;i cüuple ot shows at t lio Si. ('Uní Shores Civil.' Arena, includine a veiv successful Bob Seger-Stooges-Catfish Hodge concert, and n hall party 01 tw.o, while placing ilieir hopes foi ;i permaneni facility m the hands of a realtoi . continuad on page 19 f Detroifs newly booming Uve muác scène in the middk of the Ñew Depression, no fess-has been made ssihle in large part by the opening (or re-opening) ofsevcral ntghtehtbs, hars. and halls which providc work for musicians, top entertainment for iheir audiences, and a setise of hope for the cultural future of the arca. The music is always happening, as anyone who is into it knows, hut it must have proper otitlets in order to feed the musuians both physieally and spiritually. The rampunt monopoliza! ion of the music by the music industry ever the past five years r sv hos made the big concert in the hig arena de rigeur. simply hecause more money can he made f aster by less people tliat way, and that 's the name of the game in The Biz. Promoten who were once content to do shows in ballrooms and smali theatres under 2509 seats) have nured the same colt' i erts np to target and lamer vetmes as the audienees hare inercased, kaving a raid at the bottom end of the scale which has in turn grown larga euch year. We wil! deal with this pheinwienon in greater depth hare over the uext few montlis: our coverage in ttüs isme of two of the most protnising new developtnents on the scène I.wman 's Westside Club and the Showcase Theatre is in tended simply to introduce yon to the issue, and to turn you on to two places we 're enjoyeé oursetves over the k past coupe months, and which could certainly use vour support. i NmnsmuKHSfHini continued trom page 11 The realtor came np witli the Eastown Theatre. Harpei & VanDyke, the building ing which gave Bob (Bamboo Productions tions) Bageris his start in 1969, which he and Gabe Glant his forced partner ran into the ground in 1971, and which was iiow sitting idlc in the middle of a deterioratlng ncighboriiood. Once a family theatre. Bageris had torn out the scats of the Eastown to increase his seating capacity, and the interior liad gone straiglit down from tliat point . The typical Glant z trademarks-broken toilets. flaking paint. filth and gloom overall- came fully into play when the moneyhungry attorney bogarted his way into Bageris' trip, and it was only a matter of time before city áuthorities closed the Eastown down in response to endless coniplaints from patrons, residents of the area. people's organizations. and assorted media. Salvador, Peraino and Halberg filed papers as "Eastown Productions," made a deal with the building's owner- Ed Detricli of Forrester-Hills Management- for the ballroom, gave the place a cleaning and started negotiating with booking agents and city agencies simultaneously, preparing to reopen as the Eastown Theatre. With talent secured for their opening show in Jnly. 1973-Joe Walsh, R.E.O. Speedwagon, and Rusty Day's DETROIT-Eastown Productions began catching holy heil from every possible direction. The city refused to grant the promised license, the neighbors began a renewed assault on what they viewed as an insensitive invasión of their community by dope fiends and degenerates, and the Detroit Free Press- in a rare demonstration of their concern for innocent concert-goers- slammed the Eastown repeatedly. But the biggest problem came from within, when Eastown Productions retained Gabe Glantz as their atiorney in the licensing hassle ("He said he already had a license to opérate the Eastown." Salvador offered) and made the mistake of discussing their contingency plans with him. "Our intention was. if we couldn't get the Eastown approved, to go into the Michigan Palace, downtown, where we had been talking with Dr. Leo Spears already," Salvador told us. "Glantz ran down to Spears with S50,000, and took a ten-year lease on the Palace. Then he appointed Steve Glantz to run the place the way we had intended to do it. We held them up for six months or so while we fought it, but we just couldn't get around the Glantzes." It is here that our present story gins. tastown Productions, havin-g no turther prospect s to speak of, disbanded, witli Peraino going eventúafly into business as Sterling Diversions. and Halberg switching to work as a booking agenl in the area. Salvador himself wout to work foi the owner of the Eastown property and his land-managemenl company, and ovei the course of time he convinced his boss to let him renovate the building's interior and make one more try at presenting concerts the right way' tlns time. That was two years ago, in late [973. Now, after untold hours of work on the theatre and a terrible string of disasters relieved only by a near-perfect Bob Marley & the Wailers concert this suiiimer, John Salvador has o his infinite credit one ot the most comfortable, weiiran, attraclively decked-out small concert halls in creation. Mis problems with the city are over 'Alex Pollack. of the Mayor's Merchant Assistance Program, has helped us throughout the reconstruction process," says Salvador, "and the Young administration in general has made a world of differenee"-and even the neighbors are feeling bet ter about the Showcase. A pólice mini-station is now located direetly across the street from the front doors of the theatre, ampie guarded parking space is available behind the near-by Cunningham's drugstore, and the interior of the place has changed so much it's barely recognizable. (The new seats, incidentally, were bought from the Ford Auditorium when the Symphony's hackers had it redone last year.) An ambitious booking program, which would have been highlighted by a SteppenwolfCanned Heat show Sept. 2Oth (broken up by the Michigan Palace's raid of Steppenwolf) and the Toots & the Maytals concert this past weekend (cancelled due to illness), has been put together by Sajvador and his friend Riek Kay. head of Brass Ring Productions. In order to cover some of their unanticipated expenses and to push the Showcase 's name into wider circles. they'll also be doing some programs at Masonic this fall and winter, beginning with George Carlin Oct. I8th and the Detroit debut of the Tubes, Oct. 27th. Quicksilver, along with Frankie Miller's Highlife band. will be at the theatre itself on the 25th, and hopefully, there'II be a lot lot more to follow. It's been a long hard road, as a popular Motor City ditty goes. but everything seems to be in order this time, and if the bookings can hold up for a while Detroiters should enjoy the presence of the Showcase Theatre for some time to come. Or as the Ching puts it, "Perseverance Furthers. Succéss!"