Over the past two decades, the American all-ages music scene has practically exploded.
Originally an offshoot of the hardcore punk community, all-ages shows which (for idealistic, as well as legal reasons) traditionally happen in alcohol-free environments, have over time become much more than word-of-mouth diversions for disenfranchised youth, or welcome opportunities for budding musicians who cant wait to try out their chops onstage.
In some locales, theyve emerged as one of the more profitable and popular types of alternative entertainment.
However, while Savannahs all-ages scene has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade, it has always struggled. In fact, only a few local venues have even dabbled seriously with such shows to date.
As of this Sunday, Teasers Café the most successful of those venues will shut its doors, and many wonder whether that will effectively close the door on our entire all-ages scene.
Sean Dewberry is hardly optimistic. The computer programmer plays bass for Knee Deep & Drowning, one of the areas most established emo-core groups. When not juggling his straight job and a busy touring schedule, he has helped promote shows at Teasers, along with his friend Tim Walls, as Coastal Rock Productions.
When asked whether or not he sees any obvious replacement for the venue, he replies, not at the moment. Its looking bleek for the immediate future.
Owned by local mortician E. Bruce Adams, Teasers (at Liberty and MLK, Jr. Blvd) has gone by several names over the past 8 years, including Felicias and The Sonic Soundlab.
Adams says he bought the property on a lark back in 1996 as an investment, and its high time he took a break.
The simple truth is that Ive sold the building, he explains. Matter of fact, I would still keep the doors open, but like they say in The Godfather, someone made me an offer I couldnt refuse (laughs).
Adams says that despite what people might expect, he often attended the loud and brutal punk and metal shows thrown by a variety of indie promoters.
Im pretty much privy to all types of music, and I want to try and stay on top of things. I wont have anything going on in my building unless, you know, Im aware of it. Its been a good run, and I just hope they find another place.
Walls is less concerned than Dewberry about locating another venue.
I don't feel this will make a long-term impact on the local scene, he says. Another place will open up eventually. Theres a lot of support for punk rock in town. Two Days of Freedom, Kylesa, and Circle Takes The Square have been around for the last several years and are making names for themselves outside of Savannah. On the other hand, I've seen countless local acts start to do well, then fizzle out after half a year.
Dewberry echoes that sentiment.
While the number of bands has fallen off in the past year or so, the quality has gotten much better. I think I counted 7 Savannah bands touring, or planning on touring this summer.
Jeff Hinely, the 15-year-old guitarist for local indie-rockers The Round Table, participated in many events at Teasers, both onstage and in the crowd. He says area underage bands are more focused and organized than before, but despite the openly religious nature of many groups, he doesnt foresee local houses of worship lending as much of a hand as they might elsewhere.
I have had personal experiences with booking Christian youth centers, and its not always the best place to drag your local punk rockers to. There are too many rules. Its very difficult to guarantee nobody will break any rules, and this usually gets a promoter in trouble.
Both Dewberry and Walls say that over the years they have each seriously considered opening their own non-alcoholic venue devoted strictly to all-ages shows. However, both realized that the phenomenal responsibility and financial risk involved was more than they could handle either alone or together.
Walls does offer that he appreciates Adams allowing him to rent the facility to throw shows something that many other clubowners would not do.
And, for his part, Adams has nothing but praise for the young promoter.
When you own a club, you get approached by all sorts of people who want to use your space. But when it comes to dealing with live bands, Tim Walls just stands out. Hes a fine young man and hes done an excellent job with all of his events.
Circle Takes The Square, Knee Deep & Drowning, i am not a little bus, Arcasia Red, The Letters Organize, Tusk, and The Round Table play Sunday. Doors open at 5:30 pm. Admission is $10.