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Monday, June 22, 2020

The Underground Garage: Reopening with Jack Slade- Fynnyus Reporting...





            I met Layla (Layla Mesmeriser) a couple years ago at a blues club called Junkyard Blues. It claims to be Second Life’s oldest blues club and three-time Avi Choice winner of “Favorite Blues Venue.” It plays traditional blues music, country blues, soul blues, folk blues, blues rock and it has a Louisiana bayou theme. Layla and I became fast friends. She’s witty and charismatic and just fun to be with. She owns a club called the Underground Garage that originated in 2008. The club was starting to come back to life after a few years of being pretty much dormant. On this particular day, the club was having its first live act in a long time. Seasoned Second Life performer, Jack Slade was billed for tonight’s performance. I spoke with Layla about the club, her thoughts about music, and the influence Second Life has had on her, then listened to Jack Slade.

Fynn: So, tell me the origin story.

Layla: The Underground Garage was created for our love of classic rock and blues, however, the name came from Little Steven’s Underground Garage Radio station that digs deep into the soul of music and that is why we picked the name.  We wanted to not just play your traditional rock/blues music but dig deep into the history of rock.

Fynn: “We” being you and Mr. D (her former partner)?

Layla: Yes, he was actually the one that came up with the name. He is more the music genius behind it all, I created the grunge look and feel because I felt it best suited the music we wanted to bring to SL.

Fynn: What was it like to run a music club?

Layla: Amazing! We got to know a lot of people with similar music tastes that appreciated the love for deeper cuts of classic rock and blues. We worked hard for years to provide something that we felt was missing from other classic venues. We kept our music to 60's/70s and slightly into 80s, but our club was a true classic rock club with a mix of blues to give it an extra special feel for the love we had/have for music and the artist we grew up listening too.  It was all a labor of love and our guests and friends felt it. They would compliment us on the uniqueness of our style of playing.

Fynn: Tell me more about your love of music.

Layla: My love for music goes back to my younger years. Even in junior high, I remember getting lost in a particular song for hours, taking out my small record player, and playing the same classic rock song over and over again. It continued well into my teens and young adult years. It’s since developed into blues, but my love started with classic rock, had it from the day I received my first 45 disc of The Doors. Even now as an adult, whenever something is going wrong in my life music will always ground me and refocus me on what I seem to be feeling. It lets me escape and soothes me better than any drug around.

Fynn: What influence has SL had on your love of music, if any?

Layla: SL has actually helped me grow in my love for blues. I was always more focused on classic rock, however, meeting other people here and listening to other DJ's and live artist . . .  I have expanded my love for music to include Blues, Garage Rock, etc. It has shown me that we should never limit our taste to just one particular decade.

Fynn: I'm interested in your opinion about music in SL, the current situation, and how you've seen it change?

Layla: With everything going on in the world now, I have seen more people are returning to SL and finding solace in music much like I have been doing for years. I have spoken to so many now that have returned because music in SL has expanded to more live artists and even the DJ's have tried to cater to the heart and soul of what people are feeling. So yes, compared to 2008 when I first joined, music on SL has definitely helped a lot of people in finding that comfort, if only for those two hours that the DJ is playing.

Fynn: You just started the Underground Garage up again after a fairly long hiatus, had a couple deejays, a few friends hanging out here, how have things been going lately?

Layla: Due to real life we had to close some of the things down here, it got too chaotic to be here so many hours to manage this venue, but due to the recent lockdown I had more availability. It started with just rebuilding the club. The venue itself never closed down, I have never allowed that. It remained open for friends to still come and listen. I should point out we have an amazing stream called "Dirty Waves" that is run by a close friend IsisRea Diavolo, old regulars and new people will come even when I am not here to chill and listen to commercial friend classic rock and blues. And when I finally did return on a more regular basis in early March, it was easy to reach out to the few friends I continue to speak with, which led to more new friends joining and it’s been amazing!! It feels like it did back when we first started the club. It’s just a place for a good friend to hang out listen to some good tunes in a relaxing setting and have a few laughs.

Fynn: Was the UG popular back in the day?

Layla: Goodness YES!!! We had a great following. From day one back in 2008 we had a strong following, mostly because we kept it to classic rock and there was a very big need for good rock music. We'd have theme events every Friday. We had live music, tribute concerts that we use to produce ourselves, and we use to do an open mic. I would change up the club almost weekly and we had a strong following, but it was a lot of work and things were different in real life, I had more availability.

Fynn: And how is the club doing?

Layla: The UG is still a premier rock and roll club. Its urban grunge city setting features the best in classic rock, garage rock, punk, and blues. When we play our music it is from deep down in our core and we want our guests to feel where it's coming from—that we are playing so that they can feel the music just as powerfully as we do when we play it. I want people in SL to know that classic rock and music, in general, shouldn’t just be played without truly feeling the lyrics. The UG is here to give you that home you need if only for that single moment.

Fynn: Is there a future for the UG?

Layla: I hope that it builds up to how things were back when we first started, that it continues by word of mouth of what this little grunge venue provides, that it doesn’t just serve up one of the best classic rock music on the grid but that it also houses a great group of friendly folks that are always welcoming to anyone who needs a place to call home.



Fynn: Tell me about tonight, Jack Slade is performing, why him? What is your hope for this evening?

Layla: Jack is just fantastic!! He has a way of transporting you into his music. He sings about SL love/life and if you live here like most of us do. We can relate completely. I found Jack a few weeks ago at another venue and have been a fan since!! I hope that our friends and regulars will have the same experience I had weeks ago, when I listened to Jack sing for the first time.

            And it was a fun time! Jack played many popular tunes, but also many of his own songs. He sang Harry Chapin’s, Cats in the Cradle; Gordon Lightfoot’s, If I Could Read Your Mind; Bob Seger's, Turn the Page; Leonard Cohen’s, Hallelujah; Larry Norman’s, The Great American The Norman tune is a great protest song, and quite appropriate for today’s chaotic world situation. It's a great thing when a performer is in tune with world affairs Jack’s original music included titles as, “Did I Lie to You,” “I Don't Know,” and “I Don't Want to Write No Sad Songs,” and a few others. Indeed, Jack sang well beyond the hour you get from most SL performers. His sound is mellow, with a folksy-blues style, and the song selections were perfect for his voice. On a whole the performance was a synergy of space and sound, the vocals and the architectural choices all came together very nicely. His voice was sounded like warm, blueberry pie on an early spring day. Go see him and have a slice on me.

And so, the Underground Garage seems back in business.  Upwards of 40 people came by, so the restart was quite successful. Several old-timers from the early days of the club came by. People told me that it felt like the old days.

Reactions:

1 comments:

  1. Too bad Mr D didn't get any input on the article....

    ReplyDelete

 
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