April 23, 2009

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Farewell, Flambeaux
Musicians mourn the loss of Elm Street club
By Katie Beth Ryan music@hippopress.com

Its tenure at 1181 Elm St. in Manchester was short, but The Flambeaux Sports Bar & Entertainment Complex provided a wealth of memories for those bands that managed to play there during its 13-month lifespan.

The Flambeaux was abruptly shut down on April 15 for reasons relating to building management and city ordinances, according to co-owner Tommy Spangler. Spangler and co-owner Jeremy Jordan had high hopes for the venue when it opened in February of last year, aspirations that the current downturn in the restaurant and bar industry made difficult to attain.

“It was a lot of work, and I think having the biggest club in town put a lot of eyes on us, and that was too much of a pain in the butt to deal with,” Spangler said.

Aaron Parent, who deejayed at the venue on Saturday nights, lamented the loss of a musical hub in the city.

 “I think it’s a shame ... myself and all the other performers, we not only performed there, it was basically like a home,” he said. “We’d go there five nights out of the week. It was a networking center for people like us. I don’t think there’s a lot of places out there that have the camaraderie that we all had at The Flambeaux.”

With the bar’s closure came the end of the Thursday night open-mike sessions hosted by Josh Logan, who is currently searching for a new home for the event.

“It’s just sad ... because it was pretty much my favorite bar in town,” he said. “It had the potential to be a lot more than they made it to be.”

The bar had special significance for the members of Manchester cover band Soundtrack to Monday.

“That’s actually where we met as a band,” said lead singer Peter Higgins. Logan introduced Higgins to drummer Dan George, guitarist Byron Marks and bassist Bobby Whitworth at The Flambeaux last summer, and the band became a staple at the venue over the last eight months. Higgins didn’t hear about the bar’s closure until he saw a slew of comments on The Flambeaux’s MySpace page.

“The people who go to see shows at The Flambeaux actually enjoyed seeing music and not just getting drunk with their friends,” he said. “It was nice to go to a place where there were fans of music, not just fans of a good time.”

Spangler said that he’d like to make another contribution to Manchester’s nightlife scene, in spite of what he characterizes as a less than welcoming environment.

“I would like to do something [else], but smaller and not just a big deal, something that wouldn’t require a lot of work, and something that would get everyone else to back off of me,” he said. “I don’t have that mean, killer instinct that a lot of these bar owners have. When they want to play hardball, I don’t want to play hardball back.”

Despite the setback, Higgins said he remains optimistic about what Jordan and Spangler are planning next.

“Once I found out the story of what was going on, I didn’t ask Tommy about it,” he said. “I just sent him a message that said…‘Whatever you do next, I know it will be great.’”