“Thought this day would never come, but after 22 years as main house band at Dick’s Last Resort San Diego, our run is ending in two weeks, Private Domain lamented on its Facebook page on October 16. The downtown restaurant/bar is ducking out on live musicians. “DLR has decided to discontinue all live music effective November 1.”
Private Domain is anchored by lead singer Paul Shaffer and guitarist Jack Butler, who have played together locally since 1978 when they played in Bratz. The first Bratz gigs were at the long-shuttered Dick’s at the Beach in Solana Beach (no connection to Dick’s Last Resort). Shaffer’s bawdy stage persona and crowd interaction was a perfect mix with Dick’s Last Resort’s irreverent milieu.
“I played at Dick’s a million times,” says guitarist Jeff Snider. “I was part of the ten-piece Soul Persuaders that played every Monday there for ten years.” Snider says he regrets that the DLR change will impact scores of local musicians who play in bands such as the Siers Brothers, Polyester Express, and Ruby and the Redhots. He says, however, he thinks “it’s an accurate reflection of what’s going on. The revenue is simply not coming in. Look at the Valley View Casino. They used to have bands play twice a night every night of the week. Now they are down to just one show a night on Friday and Saturday. All the casinos are cutting back.”
Snider says the same holds true for Humphreys Lounge on Shelter Island.
“They have bands every night but the pay isn’t the same. Their entertainment budget is half of what they paid five or six years ago. Everybody is concerned that the work is shrinking considerably.”
While Dicks’ manager Steve Zipfel did confirm for the Reader that his Gaslamp landmark was “going dark” with live entertainment in November, he says he is “not sure yet” if live bands will ever return.
Meanwhile, two other venues with well-equipped sound systems are also pulling the plug on live bands. Randall McLaughlin runs the lights for variety cover band FX5. He says FX5 and others, such as 6ONE9, Nemesis, and Serious Guise, will have fewer gig options with the coming closure of the two Second Wind bars.
The Second Wind in Santee is being sold to a new owner who will reportedly fashion the venue into a sports bar in January. The Second Wind in La Mesa is being closed and its liquor license sold.
“Live music is drying up in East County and everywhere else and it’s really sad,” says McLaughlin. “Dirk’s Nightclub in Lemon Grove is about the only good-sized venue left out here for cover bands. The Grand in El Cajon used to have bands on weekends but they went to DJs. There are some smaller places but they don’t pay anything.”
Private Domain still gigs at Viejas Casino, the Beachcomber in Mission Beach, Barefoot Bar in P.B., and at Hooley’s in Rancho San Diego and La Mesa.