Spokane's music scene hit the rumble strip in the last year with the closure of two important venues, Empyrean and the Blvd. But, somewhat unexpectedly, it seems that a ragtag group of punks led by an ex-Navy recruiter are the ones jerking the scene back onto the roadway.
Last week, that Navy guy, Tom “TC” Chavez, gave us a sneak peek of his new music venue, The Hop!, at 706 N. Monroe St.
Chavez, who for two years ran a duct-taped-together punk rock venue called the Cretin Hop, on North Howard Street, announced in December that he would close the old venue and open this new one. He says he never liked the dirty feel of the old location. He rented that building and was continually frustrated with its poor condition.
The Cretin Hop, which Chavez opened to give his sons’ bands a place to play, was known for punk rock. But the Hop!, says Chavez, will welcome everything from punk rock to folk bands, and acoustic singer/songwriters to burlesque performers.
“The old Cretin Hop was more punk-themed — this one is everyone,” Chavez’s 19-year-old son, Tommy, says.
And this venue, like the old location, will remain open to all ages, but with added benefits — booze — for the drinking crowd.
Though when we saw the venue last Thursday, it was littered with wood and tools and wires, it sparkled in comparison to the old spot.
The capacity is bigger. The Hop! stage is massive, compared to the old one. Chavez is renovating the kitchen, too, to offer sandwiches to the lunch crowd. He hopes to expand the menu later. At the old place, he just had candy and pretzels.
While Chavez and a team of people — carpenters, electricians, regulars from the Cretin Hop — have focused the last three weeks on getting the venue portion open, they have huge plans for the rest of the three-floored building, too.
There’s a green room, a space for a recording studio, an open spot for a small bar, separate from the venue, in the back of the building.
“You can see we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Chavez says.