by Mike Corrigan

January smells like teen spirit, thanks to the folks at RAWK the Inland Northwest. The Spokane faith-based nonprofit group is a staunch supporter of all-ages live music, fostering a sense of "scene ownership" among area teens and promoting music as a way for young people to channel angst constructively. This weekend, the group is kicking off its 2nd annual RAWK Final Four, a competition between 15 young bands from the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area.

It goes down like this: Bands will meet in groups of five in three preliminary rounds, to be held on January 11, 18 and 25. The crowd decides each round's winner via ballot -- along with a "wild card" choice. Winning bands will converge on the RAWK Final Four on Saturday, February 8, to compete for the grand prize: 40 hours' recording time, courtesy of Flash Brothers Studios. All shows will be open to all ages and will be held at Club Soda starting at 7 pm. Advance tickets are available at Real Soda or from the bands for $8 (the bands will retain a portion of the ticket proceeds). This Saturday night, the competition kicks off with Municipal Source, Extension 2, Glorymoor, Lucia's Gray Dot and Rio 345. In the coming weeks, look for Manifest, the Agreement, One Example Malfunction, the Crescendos (on Jan. 18) and Konflict, Means to an End, Girls With Mustaches, Wadman, Room to Spare (Jan. 25).

Municipal Source hails from Cheney where the members (Aaron Schaber, bass and vocals, Tim Lienhard, guitar, trombone and vocals, Luke Casey, guitar and Maika Dang, drums) all attend high school. Influenced by the likes of the Vandals, NOFX and Lagwagon, their CD is available at the South Hill Hastings.

Extension 2 -- a Christian punk four-piece made up of Freeman and CV students -- took about half a year to form. Now that all members (guitarists Jordan Huotari and Mitch Williams, bassist Luke Perkins and drummer Dan Yeager) are in place, the band is planning a trip to the studio.

Formerly known as Victims of Circumstance, Mead HS band Glorymoor is made up of brothers Aaron and Tim Frieson and Kenny Absolonson.

Mordekye Layman (guitar/vocals) germinated the idea for Lucia's Gray Dot during the winter of 2000. After numerous lineup changes, the band settled into a trio with the addition of Tyler Tupper (bass) and Thomas Holman (percussion). They describe their sound as a mix of jazz, classical, emo and goth.

When the guys in Rio 345 play, there is plenty of action on stage -- mainly from all that dang switching of instruments that goes on. Ah, let's see here, Chris Rindal plays the guitar, bass and drums. Dave Maloney plays the guitar and the bass. And yes, that's Matt Dension playing drums and bass. You got all that?

Outback's Outta There -- We're hardly out of the station as far as the New Year goes and already Spokane's flux-crazy nightlife scene has racked up its first casualty. Outback Jack's, for the past decade a fixture of downtown Spokane's nightlife scene, closed its doors last Sunday night. But club hoppers need not fret just yet. A new developer, Caribbean-themed nightclub chain Banana Joe's, has leased the property from building owner Richard Nall and will soon (by early March) transform the building into a dance club of glitzy proportions.

"Basically, it was a good opportunity for [Banana Joe's] to come in," says Nall who has owned and operated Outback Jack's since purchasing it from the previous owner in 1999. "They're really going to improve the place. I live out of town, and I just think it was time for a change. Outback's had kind of seen its time. These guys are big, and they run a good business. It's going to be good for Spokane."

Changing owners, names and shifting entertainment offerings notwithstanding, Outback Jack's has, over the years, consistently proven itself to be an oasis of relative stability in an otherwise volatile local nightlife scene. While local live music fans bemoaned the nightclub's late '90s transition from a predominantly live music venue to a predominantly DJ-driven dance club, Outback's continued to serve a vital function in the downtown core as a fun, casual socializing hub and watering hole for young adults. The club's theme DJ dance nights -- including "College Night," "Ladies Night" and of course the ever-popular "Totally '80s Night" -- were wildly popular. Its New Year's Eve parties and frequent special events were also well attended. Though live music ceased to be a priority, the list of local and national touring acts that have passed through the Kangaroo Club during its tenure is long and illustrious (the latter-day Frank Black and Dee Dee Ramone shows certainly enriched my jaded soul).

Kevin Ryno (better known as DJ Ryndog) has presided over some of the club's hottest dance nights over the past seven-and-a-half years.

"This is a good business opportunity for Richard," he says reflecting on the closing. "But I'm kind of bummed, and a lot of other people are bummed, too. This has been home to a lot of people. I'm not sure what it's going to be like when Banana Joe's takes over. Their club in Portland's a pretty good one. But it won't be the same."

Says Nall, "Yeah, I've got mixed emotions about it coming down the stretch, but I have a lot of confidence in the new tenant. And there's not going to be a lot of time to sit around and question it, because these guys work pretty fast."

The Economics of Equity in K-12 Education @ The Hive

Mon., Jan. 30, 5:30-7 p.m.
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