A Tale of Two G's.
Four weeks ago, New Times ran my cover story "G Marks the Spot." The article was about the G, formerly Gumwrappers, a Fort Lauderdale strip club turned rock venue I thought deserved some attention. I knew there was a club in central Palm Beach County called Mr. G's that could cause some confusion. But I thought, shit, that's a good 50 miles north of the G. I couldn't see there being much crossover, either in patronage or music. The G features mostly underground acts, bands that aren't necessarily looking for a record deal (or, at least, not at the moment). Mr. G's, on the other hand, seeks out bands that are on the verge of making it. The possibility of the two clubs being in competition, well... I just didn't see it happening. But a few days after the story was published, I got a call from Mr. G himself, Michael Goelz. He wasn't happy.
"I own the name Mr. G's and the G Spot," Goelz said.
Good for him. The title of our story might have been similar, but "G Spot" never appeared anywhere in it. Still, Goelz went off on the G and its owner, Gus Carchio.
"I'm suing for my name," Goelz told me, claiming that he was going to take court action against the G. I haven't seen a lawsuit yet, but the last thing Carchio can afford right now is that kind of headache. The G can't even pay its own rent (Carchio's other club, Diamond Dolls, does). I pointed out to Goelz that the clubs were not really in competition. Apples and oranges, I said. I don't think he heard me.
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"I've got a lawyer, and I intend to win this," Goelz said.
While Goelz contemplates a cease-and-desist order, he did sell me on his club. I was under the impression that Mr. G's which took over the venue formerly occupied by Classics (2650 S. Military Trl., West Palm Beach) this past May was for, you know, classic rock fans. That's mostly true, Goelz said, but not for long.
"The main audience right now has been 30- to 50-year-olds," Goelz noted. "But we're moving toward a younger crowd. This Thursday is our first College Night party. Big Bang Radio's playing. You should come check it out."
And so I did. And whatever preconceptions I had about Mr. G's being a hangout for crusty old guys in biker gear was gone the second I walked through the door. The first thing I noticed (and continued to observe throughout the night) was the vibe. For a venue that's equal parts rock club, bar, and pool hall, all three elements seemed to jibe well together and believe me, that's not always the case. I've been to clubs where pool players spend more time heckling the bands than trying to sink the 8 ball. But here, even people on the opposite end of the bar gave applause.
Over by the stage is a circular metal light fixture that projects moving light patterns onto the dance floor. Hanging from a nearby rafter is one of Eddie Van Halen's 5150-era guitars (which, I later found out, is on loan from its owner former V.H. guitar tech Randy Skirvin, whose eponymous band regularly plays at Mr. G's). As I glanced around the bar, I tried to guess who Goelz was, thinking he was probably the guy in the "Unemployed" T-shirt and blue jeans. I introduced myself to the man, and sure enough, it was Mr. G. I half-expected him to still be rankled about the article, but Goelz couldn't have been friendlier. He was excited about his club, College Night, and all his new lighting and sound equipment, which he proudly showed off to me like a kid on Christmas morning. Goelz took me on a tour of the club, starting with the upstairs sound booth (the mixing boards are bigger than my bed), down to the two 50-foot bars and liquor cabinets (which hold some $60K worth of booze, he said), and the various knickknacks hanging from the ceiling (Van Halen's guitar was one of many). And, of course, the stage, where Big Bang Radio banged out three sets worth of originals and dead-on, near flawless cover tunes. (Note to bands who want to make the ladies dance: A couple of U2 covers will do the trick.)
"I want Mr. G's to be like the Button South," Goelz said, referring to the defunct Hallandale Beach club. "I'm trying to promote more original bands. But I'm trying to look for real original bands, not just the ones that are making gurgly fuckin' noises in the microphone more bands like Big Bang Radio."
Goelz's wish list includes Palm Beach County stalwarts like Boxelder, One, and Doorway 27. "Those are bands that will bring people and don't sound like a bunch of shit," he says.
And Goelz has plenty of radio backing for his bar: the Buzz, WZZR, the Gater, Sunny 104.3, WIRK, 93 Rock, and Wild 95.5, which holds it down for College Night. And speaking of College Night, that's another preconception down the drain. The image I had of buffoonish frat boys acting like Animal House extras didn't hold up. It was a mix of college-age kids and middle-aged adults, none displaying the jock mentality. The vibe, it was good.
"There's no tough-guy bullshit," Goelz said, "just everyone here to have a good time and enjoy the music 20-year-olds and 50-year-olds alike. That's what rock 'n' roll should be."
I couldn't agree more. Creating a peaceable coexistence among varied social types is crucial for any South Florida rock club. As the College Night crowd shows, it can work. I just wish the same could be said about rock clubs with the letter G in their name.
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