Good News, Bad News

Two local bands say goodbye. Plus, downtown gets a new venue.

The former Small Town Nation
The former Small Town Nation

To last seven years, to pack shows at the Knitting Factory, to record with a punk idol and to play massive festival stages? That’s not a story you hear every day. But it’s one that the members of Small Town Nation, a pop-punk outfit that hatched in the brains of two Deer Park High School kids in the early 2000s, can tell their grandkids one day.

But new bands, new projects and new aspirations are breaking up the beloved group, according to Levi Steverding. He says the band is quitting at a high point. Last year, the members of Small Town Nation recorded an album with MxPx’s Mike Herrera, who also sang on one of the band’s songs. Herrera’s music was an inspiration to all of them as kids.

The band broke the news to fans via Facebook in mid-September, and there was an outpouring of support, Steverding says. “The reason we’re doing a final show was because of fan response,” he says.

Mon Cheri, a very different, but just as beloved band, will also throw its finale show this weekend. It’s a bittersweet end, says drummer Brandon Vasquez, but when guitarist/singer Patrick McHenry and his wife decided to do a “travel-nursing” program, the band knew they couldn’t continue.

“The future is kind of a question mark, so I think the band has collectively agreed that this is the end,” Vasquez says over email. “Is there a chance of regrouping when/if Pat returns? I sure hope so.”

Mon Cheri, fronted by McHenry and singer Caroline Francis, sweetened up Spokane’s music scene in the mid-2000s with approachable, upbeat indie rock songs and covers of classics from the Beatles and the Everly Brothers. They took that on the road, too, doing multiple tours, recording two albums and even being featured on an MTV music blog. Certainly achievements to be proud of, but Vasquez still wonders “what if.”

“Perhaps if we had more time, made more effort, luck would have gone our way.”

Small Town Nation Farewell Show • Fri, Dec. 16, at 7:30 pm • Knitting Factory • $5 • All-ages • 244-3279 • Mon Cheri Final Show & Food Drive • Fri, Dec. 23, at 8 pm • Red Room Lounge • $5; $1 off for each can of food • 21 • • 838-7613

New (Old) Kid on the Block

Outside the new Red Room Lounge last Wednesday, it was hard to tell which doors were the ones leading to the club. The wooden ones with the glass windows? The ones that used to lead into the Game?

So when Craig Larsen, the Red Room’s owner, opened the double wooden doors to greet me, I was shocked by what I saw inside. Walls of deep red and burnt orange flank a tall wood-and-glass bar. And at the back of the bar, underneath some move-able tables, is a stage.

And that stage is where Bill Powers — a longtime Spokane booker, most notable for his work at A Club, the Seaside and the Blvd — will work his magic. The Red Room, he says, is the next local spot for live music.

Powers’ departure from the A Club seemed to time perfectly with Larsen’s idea to rebrand Jimmy’z — now the Red Room — as less of a club and more like a music venue.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a year and a half,” Larsen says.

“As an owner, I wasn’t interested in just doing DJs. To me, Spokane has been missing the music culture that goes through Seattle.”

When the two decided to work together, Larsen dropped major cash on putting a great sound system into the space.

“Nobody has ever legitimately spent the money to bring in quality sound [locally],” he says. “We thought, ‘Let’s get the best gear we can and do this right.’” The 21-and-over venue is open to a variety of acts — the current schedule features the Supersuckers (see page 57), rapper Abstract Rude and Canadian garage rockers the Pack A.D. Powers says the schedule, at first, will reflect contacts he’s built in his years booking shows in Spokane. But “if we can fill this space with jazz fans,” Larsen says they’re open to that.

“I think when it comes to showtime, with the lights and the sound,” Powers says, “I think people are really going to love being here.”

The Red Room Lounge • 521 W. Sprague Ave. • • 838-7613

Zephyr Dinner Theater ft. Blake Braley @ Zephyr Lodge

Tue., April 20, 6 p.m.
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About The Author

Leah Sottile

Leah Sottile is a Spokane-based freelance writer who formerly served as music editor, culture editor and a staff writer at the Inlander. She has written about everything from nuns and Elvis impersonators, to jailhouse murders and mental health...