So I heard through the grapevine that our local establishment we know as Sweet Caroline's is shutting their doors soon and moving on. There will forever be a spot in my heart for her. For I was their before the beginning. I knew Terry Hudson back when he was Bartender Extrodinaire. I remember when he met his wife. When he got the money to open his own place. I knew the reason for the name. I was their the day he got to walk in the place and look around.
Once Terry had the idea. I came up with the logos, t-shirts, menu, advertising & signage. My fine art pieces graced the brick wall, with the mortar constantly falling out. I was so scared with the bass and loud music, that the nails would give way and this 50 pounds of glass and wood would come tumbling down upon a table and it's customers. Thankfully it never happen.
I did a monday night open mic for him. I built a resume running sound out of that old place. I was so impressed with his business model when he started. He would get a $2000-$4000 blues act on a Sunday. Charge $20-40 per head and sell the place out with dinners and drinks all night. Most of the time he would break even on just the door. I was making greats like Michael Burke, Sandra Hall, Levon Helm……sound good.
And then he got greedy. he thought a bigger place, bigger bands, more money. So he moved that establishment a block away to a 8 times bigger building. I was there. Painting the lady on the stage. Running sound for Mary Anne Redmond and many others. Being the first Thursday Night DJ in town. Being proud I had a home. I had just started to be a DJ so it was all the first gigs. The beginning. Soon I developed packages like best of CDs with the labeled bands that came through. Tie-ins with the newly created Blues House Concerts that we were all part of.
Then came the Jeffrey Walker CD. Jeffrey was a backup singer for Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin and a few others. Each month he would bring a little James Brown style band out with backup girl singers and all. It was crazy, because he was working in the kitchen at another local joint. But on stage he was a superstar that blew me away and influenced me til this day.
The project was the first of our live recordings idea. The first would be his show released to CD and we would continue with other bands. I would record, edit & master the show. Come up with the graphics & packaging and split the money with him. I was pushed out by the guy that set the sound system up. He also hired a kid from the music college to replace me as sound man. This guy would stay with him to this day and now runs the new studio he acquired.
So at this time I was running a straight up design firm with an in-house art department, printing department, the first fully digital recording studio and post production studio. I gave him a bill for the packaging production of the CD since I was cut out of everything else. He belittled me in front of 10 people, employees and customers. Putting me down about how I wasn't worth $500 and if he paid. It would be the last time he paid and the last time we did anything together. I caved and said whatever. The next Thursday I go to load in and he catches me on the first trip. "Hey Man I forgot to call you. I got someone coming in tonight to play." I sit down my handful. "A Band?" "No another DJ. He wants to work for free and I can't turn that down." I looked at him like I wanted to stab him. "Yes you can. It's called loyalty. I've been there for you. From the beginning and this is how you thank me?" His reply was I will call you if it doesn't work out. My response was don't worry about it because I'm not answering nor less ever talking to you again. I stuck to that for over 10 years until I was forced to pass him in a hallway entrance at a club and he reached out to say Hi.
Anyway after he ran it to the ground. Giving up on caring about service. Personally ripping people off on their bills. Running off good clientele including his right hand man of 15 years. He pawned off the business on a <<<<MODEL>>>> and her new husband. Now I forgot to mention. In the new move to the bigger building. He acquired investors. Some paying in over $50,000. Most of these people never saw a return. The new owners were responsible for paying them out on a weekly basis. The old building continues to prosper. It has had 3 bars in it with the third still hanging on at the time I right this. So that was a legacy Terry started.
The new owners were horrible. The service was beyond bad. The building took on the appearance of a roadhouse. The DJ that worked for free was doing it Thur, Fri & Sat unless they had a band. Sadly the few times I went to see a band. The crowd was unimpressive. Unless it was a national or regional act. Plus the service still sucked.
Soon the hours cut down to just Thur, Fri & Sat with some special Sunday shows. Then the owner starts building up a salon down the street and I think. You can't run one business so you're gonna do two? Now I hear the rumor. It seems Sweets spent all their money making calendars that showcased the new owner's body instead of reinvesting and getting more business.
It really depresses me that they failed. I can understand. I would have hired a restaurant manager. Changed the staff and even worked every hour myself until it was back on track. I guess I see things different. So raise a glass and Salute for one last toast to the place we new as Sweet Caroline's. Remember the great days and not the one's where Terry is getting jumped in the parking lot for being an asshole racist. Forget the cops blocking off the street and spraying mase in the building. Forget about the inflated bar tabs with drinks you never had or paying $20 for a concert that had 2 songs left in it. Forget the being told I don't need your business. Ot the sorry we are out of that. Just remember the great shows. Hey Brett Michaels came back….Maybe that's what killed them. His cost of appearance.
Maybe the building will survive and maybe a new owner will have the power to change it. The first mistake was keeping the name and baggage. So note to next. A Under New Ownership sign won't wash that taste out of mouths. If not. I hope I catch the auction. I can always use stage lighting and sound equipment. RIP to yet another of the many clubs I have outlived.
Coalie Harry's, T-Jeffrey's, Bell Star, Spanky's, Dan's Grill & Bar, The Swap Meet, Daisy Dukes, Old Town Bar, The Spot, The Village Idiot, The Underground and the dozens more I can't remember.