With the new update of the site and the club closing I figured I should fill in the other seven years that Mary's was opened.
As stated in the last chapter, I retired in 2000 but I continued to be pulled back in for shows from time to time. One of the highlights was the TSOL in 2001. Also I continued to book my birthday shows including the Beautys.
Under Gus the club moved in a new direction as did the underground music scene. He continued with booking many of the acts that I and others had made regulars at the club but brought in the new sound that was taking over the scene in the early to mid 00. Stoner rock became the sound of choice at Mary's. Gus brought many of the acts that defined the movement including Queens of the Stone Age, Weedeater, Fu Manchu, Clutch and countless others. He did also continue to bring a number of punk bands like Down by Law and the Briefs and worked with a number local promoters Including Nate Fetus.
Also Jeff, John and Fathead had bought Lucky's, the Walnut Tap and Kung Fu Tap and Taco. The Tap located on the East Side of Des Moines did a number of Alt. Country shows.
By 2005 the stoner rock thing had ran it's course. Low attends and lack of interest, combined with the fact that there were a number of other clubs operating in the area, Mary's started to decline. In August Gus left Hairy Mary's to move on to bigger things and Jeff came back to handle the talent buying and asked me to do a few shows. Well, I've never been that good at just doing something a few times.
From 2005 to 2006, Axiom Promotions came back and I came out of retirement. In a lot of ways it was the third coming of Hairy Mary's. The first was at the old location downtown, the second when they took over Safari and the third started in August of 2005 and I was proud to be involved.
During that 18 months or so, Hairy Mary's saw shows at a level it hadn't seen since 1997. Many were old faces like Murphy's Law, US Bombs, and Agent Orange but many had never played Mary's before like the Misfits, Rigor Mortis, Subhumans, Briggs, The Street Dogs, The Exploited, and The Adolescents. At this point the last show that I did was the Effigies at the Mews last fall.
By the spring of 2007, the feeling was that the end was near. That last year or so was a solid big bang for a room and name that had meant live music in Des Moines. At it's base, the owners had had enough. They had supported and hosted a non-stop live music party for over 8 years. Longer and more indecently then anyone ever had or ever will. It was an end of something great and like many important periods in history it didn't end with a huge blow out but with silence.
On July 5th, 2007 at 2am Vinnie locked up and Hairy Mary's closed to never open again(?), The new owners would play with our hearts, flip flopping between keeping the room a venue and becoming a straight bar. In the end, after being closed for most of the summer of 2007, it would re-open as the Dublin. Now it is a college bar with it's own short bus to transport students from Drake campus to the front door. In fact the bar has closed it's door from time to time to non-students.
Do I blame the new owners? No. It takes a special kind of person to own a music venue. There is not a lot of money in it and it tends to be a charity operation. You really have to be a music fan first and a business man second. Not everyone can do that.
The thing is that what happened there effected countless people and bands. At it's best, Safari and Mary's was a church and home to a local music scene that no one seemed to want. It will be missed but it was just a building. The people that filled it, ran it and supported it are what made it special and important. Many of them have moved on to new adventures and are making a difference elsewhere. Shawn and Paul are in a band that is a house hold name and has brought Des Moines to a world stage. Jeff, John and Fathead continue to own and operate two bars, GTs and KungFu that host shows from time to time. Gus is still active in promoting shows in the Des Moines area. I'm not nearly as active as I once was but still get drug into doing shows from time to time and who knows what the future will bring.
November 20th, 2008
Next Chapter - Chapter 9 - It's Ain't Over - Lefty's Live Music