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Swan Song

Pete Escovedo takes over the spy nightclub

By Sarah Quelland

SAN JOSE's SoFA district is about to get a world-class Latin music venue with some real power behind it. Renowned Latin jazz percussionist and Bay Area native Pete Escovedo recently inked a deal to occupy the building that once housed the spy nightclub, the Usual and F/X. In the tradition of clubs like B.B. King's Blues Club, Buddy Guy's Legends and John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom Room, he lends his name to Pete Escovedo's Latin Jazz Club at the heart of SoFA.

Victor Pamiroyan, Escovedo's manager and entertainment director for the new club, says the format will be live music with an emphasis on salsa orchestras. The club will also be booking a variety of Latin and traditional jazz, big-band orchestras and local R&B and classic-soul groups like Mystique, the Kool Katz and the Hitmen. The San Jose Jazz Society will be involved on some weekdays, but weekends will generally feature national touring groups. Pamiroyan mentions that he and Escovedo intend to contact some of their friends in the business--names like Eddie Palmieri, Poncho Sanchez, the Rippingtons, Lavay Smith and Escovedo's daughter, drummer ShEIla E.--to headline the club. In addition to the big names, he adds, "I'm a firm believer that somewhere in the South Bay, in the East Bay, there are stars waiting to be discovered. At some point, we'll be showcasing those types of musicians."

Pamiroyan says the South First Street location appealed to them because there's parking and dining and because they already have a good relationship with local businesses like the Ramada. In keeping with the trend of upscaling downtown San Jose, much like Escovedo's previous club, the East Bay's Mr. E's, Pete Escovedo's Latin Jazz Club will adhere to a very strict dress code. Pamiroyan says they're creating a first-class atmosphere where people will always feel safe and be able to enjoy themselves.

The building is currently undergoing a remodel so drastic that Pamiroyan compares it to Fox's extreme makeover show The Swan. "The place is being gutted, stripped down and everything else," he says. The interior will reflect Escovedo's personality and history as a musician with some of the paintings and memorabilia that were displayed in Mr. E's. They'll also be using musical instruments creatively as decorations throughout the new club.

No opening date has been announced, but speculation, and a recording left on the old spy information line, points to June. "There's still a lot that we have to do. It's a lot of work," Pamiroyan says. But when the club does open, he sounds positive that it will attract mature jazz lovers and music aficionados from 21 on up.

ROCKIN' FOR BIG TOM: Next Wednesday (May 19), the Blank Club hosts a memorial and benefit concert for local skateboarder and artist Big Tom Laughlin. The night features performances by Laughlin's friends the Shitkickers, the Odd Numbers, the Cliftons, Sloe and iNQ and acoustic appearances by Ray Stevens, Bryant Caughey and Shawn Packer. Doors open at 8pm, and there's a $5 cover with proceeds going toward Laughlin's expenses.

HOT TOPIC: Say goodbye to Camera One this Thursday (May 13) at the Music MAYhem show presented by KFJC-FM (89.7). The all-ages show starts at 8pm and offers performances by Mansion, Sin in Space, Bodies in the Basement and Fingerbangerz. There's a $5 cover. ... Maroon 5 plays a big show this Thursday (May 13) at Santa Clara University. ... The Jagermeister Tour hits the Regency Center Grand Ballroom in San Francisco this Thursday with Slipknot, Fear Factory, Chimaira and Hostility in tow. ... Channel 104.9 presents a cheap $1.49 show with Apollo Sunshine and Life With Jonas this Friday (May 14) at the Blank Club. ... Sno-Core 2004 blasts into the Fillmore in San Francisco this Monday (May 17) with the South Bay's Trapt and Strata plus Finger Eleven and Smile Empty Soul. Aphasia has also been added to the Bay Area date. ... The Beastie Boys headline this year's BFD, held June 11 at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. Visit www.live105.com.

PLAN AHEAD: Local Traffic, the Real Thing and Shrinkage, May 13 at the Gaslighter Theater in Campbell; Insolence, May 15 at the Pound in San Francisco; Winston and Slap Dash Heroes, May 15 at Gaslighter's Music Hall in Gilroy; Dierks Bentley, May 16 at the Saddle Rack in Fremont; My Former Self, Shafter, A Cloven Heart, Perfect Society and Unknown Theory, May 16 at the Gaslighter Theater; Drunken Starfighter, May 17 at Waves Smokehouse.

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From the May 12-18, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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