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Black Cat Bar to live up to its name

On with the shows: tweakers out, liquor's in

Matt Parker’s Black Cat Bar recently got licensed for liquor.
Matt Parker’s Black Cat Bar recently got licensed for liquor.

“When I came to San Diego in ’89, I played at the old Casbah with my punk band Big Tension,” says Matt Parker, who now plays guitar in the five-piece Americana band Bartenders Bible. “The reason we kept getting good Casbah gigs was because the other two guys were carpet-layers.”

Parker used his connection with Casbah co-owner Tim Mays to get a gig as a dishwasher when Mays and others took over the Turf Supper Club in Golden Hill. “I battled my way up to bartender.”

Parker says he could have followed Mays to the Riviera Supper Club in La Mesa after they lost their Turf Club lease seven years ago but decided instead to stay in the neighborhood and buy a sketchy joint called Nancy’s Pub.

Place

Black Cat Bar

4246 University Avenue, San Diego

“It had a reputation for violence and crystal meth.” Parker renamed it the Black Cat Bar and successfully purged the tweakers. “You can do a lot with lighting....”

But getting live music took six years. The liquor license he acquired didn’t allow for amplified music. “We knew we weren’t supposed to, but in the first years we had Beehive and the Barracudas, Joey Harris Band, and the Mario Escovedo Experience. We had the Amandas for our grand opening.”

Parker said there were never any problems or complaints during the illicit live shows. The amplified shows ended one night last year when a routine stop by a vice officer making the rounds forced them to cut the music.

“He was very nice, but he made us stop in the middle of the show.” He says the illegal shows didn’t hold him back as much as the sluggish bureaucracy. “We petitioned the [state bureau of Alcoholic Beverage Control] to change that restriction and they said we needed to speak to the police. The police said we had to talk to the ABC. They finally started talking to each other.”

The Black Cat Bar finally got its liquor license amended last month to allow legal, amplified music. “The truth is, the music saves us. I don’t know if we’d be here without it.”

The Anomaly, Snakes and Crows, and Noel Jordan appear Friday at the Black Cat Bar. TV Icon, Luna Skies and Hot Mustard on Saturday.

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Matt Parker’s Black Cat Bar recently got licensed for liquor.
Matt Parker’s Black Cat Bar recently got licensed for liquor.

“When I came to San Diego in ’89, I played at the old Casbah with my punk band Big Tension,” says Matt Parker, who now plays guitar in the five-piece Americana band Bartenders Bible. “The reason we kept getting good Casbah gigs was because the other two guys were carpet-layers.”

Parker used his connection with Casbah co-owner Tim Mays to get a gig as a dishwasher when Mays and others took over the Turf Supper Club in Golden Hill. “I battled my way up to bartender.”

Parker says he could have followed Mays to the Riviera Supper Club in La Mesa after they lost their Turf Club lease seven years ago but decided instead to stay in the neighborhood and buy a sketchy joint called Nancy’s Pub.

Place

Black Cat Bar

4246 University Avenue, San Diego

“It had a reputation for violence and crystal meth.” Parker renamed it the Black Cat Bar and successfully purged the tweakers. “You can do a lot with lighting....”

But getting live music took six years. The liquor license he acquired didn’t allow for amplified music. “We knew we weren’t supposed to, but in the first years we had Beehive and the Barracudas, Joey Harris Band, and the Mario Escovedo Experience. We had the Amandas for our grand opening.”

Parker said there were never any problems or complaints during the illicit live shows. The amplified shows ended one night last year when a routine stop by a vice officer making the rounds forced them to cut the music.

“He was very nice, but he made us stop in the middle of the show.” He says the illegal shows didn’t hold him back as much as the sluggish bureaucracy. “We petitioned the [state bureau of Alcoholic Beverage Control] to change that restriction and they said we needed to speak to the police. The police said we had to talk to the ABC. They finally started talking to each other.”

The Black Cat Bar finally got its liquor license amended last month to allow legal, amplified music. “The truth is, the music saves us. I don’t know if we’d be here without it.”

The Anomaly, Snakes and Crows, and Noel Jordan appear Friday at the Black Cat Bar. TV Icon, Luna Skies and Hot Mustard on Saturday.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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