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Death of a Disco Punk Dance Club The Trocadero is in trouble. On Feb. 16 the SOMA nightspot and concert venue will forfeit two after-hours permits and close for a police-mandated 90-day suspension. It probably won't open again. When the Troc dies, San Francisco will lose yet another after-hours club. Police say that's part of their plan. The Troc was once a gay disco; it's now primarily a punk venue and a goth/industrial dance spot, known for its long-running "Bondage A Go-Go" nights. A few months ago Troc owner Dick Collier quietly put the lease up for sale, says club booker George Lazaneo. A small group of local restaurateurs, thinking the space would make a nice supper club, were close to making a deal. Police, noting an increasingly uptight community housed in nearby converted live-work spaces, suggested that the new investors hold a neighborhood meeting to talk about their plans. Two days before the scheduled meeting there was a fatal shooting outside the Troc. The police say that victim Michael Burdette had been in the club that night (Jan. 25) with two female friends. A couple of hours after the club closed, at around 3 a.m., the two women were allegedly groped by another patron; police say Burdette stepped between the women and the suspect and was shot several times with a medium-caliber handgun. Police say Burdette did not have a weapon. The shooter got away. The SFPD's Lt. David Robinson says witnesses described the suspect as a light-skinned black man with a ponytail and a couple of gold teeth. Needless to say, the shooting put a strain on the neighborhood meeting, though the deal is still pending. But the incident did cause the police to rule the venue an "attractive nuisance." This sounds like a great name for a club to Riff Raff, but in the world of liquor licensing and police crackdowns, it's a bad thing indeed. The ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control), which suspended the Troc briefly in 1992 and 1994, is also riding the club for recent complaints about "disorderly operation" and "lewd and nude acts," the latter probably stemming from "Bondage A Go-Go." Lazaneo says the police are out to get the Troc as part of a plan to curtail nightlife in SOMA. He may be right. As it is currently operating, the Troc uses four permits, two of which allow it to stay open past 2 a.m. When the Troc closes on the 16th, it'll give up those two permits. The police, who consider after-hours clubs a magnet for trouble, won't be issuing them to anyone else. Says SFPD Capt. Dennis Martell, "We are attempting to limit the number of these establishments." (J.S.)

The (Supposed) Death of a Mission Rock 'n' Roll Club The padlock on the Chameleon's door on Jan. 14 and 15 didn't look good. The following week a beer shortage left patrons drinking cans of Bud during the US Bombs show. Rumors that the club would close were spreading through the Mission almost as fast as the water was rising on the banks of the Russian River. Before owner Karen Carney could say, "Rock 'n' roll never dies," the nightclub version of ambulance chasers were approaching her in the street, asking if they could "buy in." But reports of the Chameleon's demise were premature. The real story: Carney was in a financial crunch because of a minor personal-injury claim filed against the club. She says she closed the doors for two days only while negotiating new insurance coverage. "I couldn't open my doors without insurance," says Carney, admitting that she found it emotionally taxing to battle the rumors of closure while also navigating legal and monetary woes. "I've worked my ass off to own my own business, and I've run it for over seven years. I'm not going to let something like this close me down." With the injury matter settled out of court and a new insurance plan in her pocket, Carney is happy to say that the door is open and the beer is flowing. She is looking to recoup losses with a little help from some old bands that got their start at the Chameleon; she says the Galbraith Brothers and Family Scott -- who were shut out -- will reschedule. (S.T.)

Stipe Hunt A few months ago we heard that R.E.M. were going to record the follow-up to New Adventures in Hi-Fi, the band's first record without drummer Bill Berry, at San Francisco's Toast Studios. That day is here, but we know as much now as we did then. The band's Warner Bros. publicist didn't bother to return Riff Raff's calls. And the woman who answers the phone at Toast hung up on us. Twice. In lieu of any real news at this time, we document only recent Stipe sightings. A week-and-a-half ago Mr. R.E.M. was seen sipping a cocktail at the Make-Out Room. And a couple of days later the singer was at Spaghetti Western in the Lower Haight for a 2 p.m. breakfast. Then, Stipe chatted about guitarist Billy Zoom at last weekend's second X show. (Also seen: Jakob Dylan.) Finally, we hear Stipe's on his way to becoming a regular at Annie's Cocktail Lounge, the alley bar across the street from the Hall of Justice. (J.S.)

The Death (and Rebirth) of a Jazz Club Last weekend, Radio Valencia Cafe closed out its long-running Saturday Creative Music Series with a power-packed double-bill of the Matthew Goodheart Trio (plus L.A. trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith) and the Ben Goldberg Trio. For the past five years, the cozy restaurant/bar has functioned as the unlikely de facto hub for the Bay Area's fecund jazz and experimental-improv community. Besides providing young bloods like saxophonists Alex Weiss and Scott Rosenberg with their earliest local showcases, the venue has also hosted scene veterans like Lisle Ellis, Larry Ochs, and Donald Robinson (in What We Live), and NYC heavyweights like saxophonist John Zorn and drummer Phil Haynes. Valencia owner Don Alan says that his reasons for stopping the series are many. "Jazz performances are really concerts," says Alan. "But people who come to the cafe expect to hang out and talk. Having to tell people to be quiet always made me anxious. And during the quiet parts [of the performances], it was difficult [for musicians and listeners] with the noise of a functioning restaurant. It's just not a good setting for the artists and it basically created a negative dynamic for regular customers." He notes that Valencia patrons eventually got used to the idea, and some even became devoted fans: "Some shows would sell out before the show even started." But Alan always felt that "there should be a better place for this music" -- the staging wasn't right, there was no room to handle the overflow crowds, and some paying customers didn't have adequate sightlines to the musicians. The cafe will still present live music, but without a cover charge. Fridays will continue as swing-jazz nights, and on Sundays it's bluegrass. Alan plans on making Saturday evenings a live DJ version of Radio Valencia's notable "playlist," an eclectic blend of music from all over the place, MC'd by a revolving cast of local mixmasters. Former Radio Valencia door guys and loyal scenesters Oran Canfield and Eli Crews will transfer the venue's artist roster and mailing list to their expansive storefront performance space, the Sweat Shop, 1943 Mission (at 16th Street), conveniently close to BART for jazz fans from around the bay. A couple of preliminary shows over the past few weeks featured a rare appearance by Glenn Spearman's G-Force and Marco Eneidi's massive American Jungle Orchestra. The acoustics in the room are clear and resonant, the atmosphere laid-back and comfortable. While the Sweat Shop can't serve up the delectable comestibles of Radio V's kitchen, Canfield and Crews seem dedicated to providing an amenable forum for the music. And that's exactly what the San Francisco jazz scene needs. (Sam Prestianni)


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