In answer to all the what the HELL is going on!?!?!? emails...
The Hangnail Gallery here in lovely and scenic Downtown Augusta, GA
will be closing after the show Friday November 27th
(the closing date may change)
and here's a looong email about it...
The Owners of the Building have finally decided that it is time for us to go,
we are to be out by December 8th.
Was it the broken windows next door, the rusted out water pipe into the building
that they don't want to repair,
or the petty vandalism this area has endured for the past 20 years or so?
Who knows, they won't return my calls and have refused to allow us to stay
until the end of the year,
so we'll just have to be content with our guesses. (and our curses!)
It's been a fun four years, we opened in November of 2000 with the first Hellblinki live performance, Pineal Ventana (a now defunct group from Atlanta, theatrical, tribal, full of power and amazement) and Sikhara, an odd group of noise musicians.
Through the years we've had groups and individuals from all over the country, and from various places on the globe. Bands have been here from Italy, Czech Republic, Norway, England, and Germany. Several people have moved to the area after visiting the Hangnail and enjoying downtown Augusta, and there are more on their way. We've done all kinds of events, from our annual Halloween Bash, (Cirque de Diabolique, Dead Pirate's Ball, and Monsters in the Closet), all manner of punk, rockabilly horror rock, lots of Hardcore and Emo, Goth events, odd noise bands, punk country troubadors, singer songwriters, techno rave, Industrial, and conglomerations of sounds and visuals too odd to be described. We've had top-notch bands, I regularly see full articles on bands who play the Hangnail in glossy national magazines while flipping through at Borders. Some of my favorites that I can think of at the moment The Slackers, World Inferno Friendship Society, The Uk Subs, The Dolomites, Jucifer, The Psychic Revolution tour, This Bike is a Pipe Bomb, Duck Duck Grey Duck, Daniele Bruschacetto, Apox...
Ask any regular Hangnail patron and they will give you a completely different list.
We tried to cater to and introduce all kinds of music, hopefully the Hangnail helped to remove some musical blinders,
and opened some minds to some small part of the myraid of musical and artistic possibilities that are out there.
The Hangnail has also served as the home of the Hellblinki Sextet, it's been a great place to rehearse and record, it was a perfect staging area for our CD release at The Imperial Theatre, and for all the shows downtown, The Garden City Music festival, Arts in the Heart the Twelve Bands shows, The Soul Bar, Continuum, Crossroads... we will miss it dearly, hopefully we will find a new home very soon!
There have been some tough times for the Hangnail.
We got noise complaints for about the first year or so, all from the summit,
carpeting the back wall fixed that, early on the police would pull up and start yelling at kids
for hangning out on the sidewalk, sometimes even pushing them around and threatening them,
that finally ended after about the first year, since then all of our police interaction has been friendly and helpful.
There was this one fellow who had it out for us early on who came by during a Hellblinki rehearsal yelling rudely gruff and unfriendly misquoting the noise ordinance threatening to haul us to Jail,
He came back about four months later, was equally rude, we told him he was wrong, that we'd read the ordinance,
and could we please have his badge number, name, and the name of his superior officer,
he was almost polite after that but still gave me a ticket,
The judge was almost as rude as the officer, tried to intimidate, and belittle, then against all logic,
(I wish I had a transcript of the judge's justification for finding me guilty, it was quite entertaining)
Gave me a $100 fine and 60 days probation, for a noise ordinance violation!
(He tried to give me six months probation, but the prosecutor informed him that he could only give a max of 60 days)
Anyhow that was the last of the noise trouble, we had two or three complaints after that,
but the officers were always polite and we turned down.
We got in a little trouble with our Door Decoration for The Dead Pirates' Ball last Halloween. It was a ships prow, sticking out of ythe front of the building complete with nude figurehead with pale white skin, red eyes and nipples, and a halo of evil looking red dreadlocks that stuck out menacingly in all directions. After the pary, we decided to leave her up until first friday since she looked so good. Folks complained, the sign guy from the liscencing dept, came by and was very worried that not only was the sign obsene, but was also very concerned that we may be worshiping Satan (he mentioned it three times in our conversation) in there and what about all the graffitti in the area? I assured him that we wern't satan worshipers (wasn't that one of those 80's urban legends?) and that if any hangnail patrons were also graffitti artists then I didn't know about it, (I have since met the wheat paste guys, but I will take the secret of their Identities to my grave) he said we could have a sign it just couldn't be dirty, so the next day I fashioned a pink and white polka dot bikini for our lovely figurehead, so she could make it through the week without being indecent.
That apparently was not what he wanted, so after a few more phone conversations we took her down late on a thursday night and were served with a ticket early friday morning anyway. It was little funny to be recieving a ticket from a slightly confused marshall for a sign that had been removed well before the date I had been told in writing that it must be taken down.
Anyhow they eventually dropped the charges (I think) after a few more phone calls.
The Hangnail had maybe three fights in or around it during the four years we were open
(which is pretty amazing considering the average age of our patrons was about 19 or 20)
all of which were stopped quickly and without trouble.
We had some trouble with broken windows and trash on the street.
Amazingly we were able to catch all the window breakers who all subsequently paid for the damages,
except for one who disappeared shortly after his crime and the owners never really pursued.
Two punched windows because they were mad at girls, one was a drunk who we kicked out (he's the one who never paid),
and the last was a couple of kids horsing around.
Trash was a continual problem, hardcore bands liked to leave little piles of garbage outside their vans when they left, people liked to go around the corner and sneak drinks leaving their trash in the alley or on the street, there were often all manner of pop cans bottles and pizza boxes strewn all over 8th st. after shows, I spent a lot of time cleaning up the street.
and the cigarette butts, lots and lots of cigarette butts...
Most of our shows ware booked and promoted by independent "Promoters" ages 15 to 25 or so who would set-up and promote the shows and then essentially rent the Hangnail for the night, sound included.
A couple of them are already trying to open a new place.
One of the main functions of the Hangnail has been as a place for young bands to play (the only place for most) These are the kids that will be Augusta's music scene in 4 or 5 years. They come with their High School buddies and often their parents.
(the parents again and again thanked us for having such a cool place that the kids could come to!)
Sometimes people brought their little kids, we'd give 'em some cheap plastic toys and noismakers out of the Hellblinki bucket and some tissue to stick in their ears.
Many of the folks who came to the Hangnail were from columbia county. The Hangnail was their sole reason for coming downtown, hopefully they have come to enjoy downtown and will find other reasons to occasionaly escape the sprawl.
There will certainly be some negative impact for businesses in the area if the 50-100 kids who came to the Hangnail 2-3 nights a week no longer visit downtown.
I don't know.
In some ways I'm relieved to not have to do this any more, The Hangnail was constant hard work for very little money,
Hellblinki will have to find a rehearsal space (and soon too, we have to prepare for the 12 bands show in Dec!)
I'm looking forward to spending more time painting and writing music, maybe even pick up photography again,
I'll probably spend more time working at Wine World, or possibly even move to Asheville for a short time.
As far as an all ages club, one is sure to pop up fairly soon, Augusta (unlike most places) has almost always had one for the nearly 20 years that I've been hanging out downtown and from what I hear there were similar clubs before then.
In the past two days, I've had many offers from folks who want to go in on something, I don't know if that's what I want to do, but we shall see.
It is my hope that whatever does eventually fill the void left by the Hangnail's passing is Eclectic, Diverse, and above all Fun!
Thanks to everyone who helped in any way, there are lots and lots of you,
you've helped make Augusta a better place.
P.S. anybody want to buy a coke machine?