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Jeff Wright at Hairy Mary's

Chapter 07 - The second coming of Mary's

January 26,1999 after the Flys show, I stopped in for a drink and the then Bartend/manager Brian pored us all a shot and toasted to the last night Safari would be open. I freaked and quickly asked what he was talking about. He told me that Jake had failed to pay the Dram shop insurance (insurance required to carry a liquor licence in Iowa). I told Paul to call Shawn(Shawn's family still owned the building and Jake was in default on the contract to buy the business). Shawn told Paul to get everyone's keys and pull the cash. Brian and I headed to GTs to have a few beers and talk about what had happened. GTs is a bar owned by the former owners of the old Hairy Mary's Jeff and John. After the bar had closed we sat there and talked to Jeff and this guy I didn't know Brad(Fatty). When the conversation turned to Safari and it's closing, Jeff expressed interest in buying the club. Do to the fact that Slipknot was leaving in the morning to finish recording their S/T album, there was a point of urgency. I didn't know it at the time but Brad "Fathead" Smith was a childhood friend of Shawn's. Long story short, Jeff, John and Fathead bought the club and took over the next day.


I don't think anyone told Jake about this and he found out the next day when he walked in with some plastic cups and a case of beer. The new owners went to town remolding the east side aka bar building. Including putting in a stainless steel bar top, Painting, ripping down the ugly panelling, uncovering a 7up ad that had been painted on the side of the older west build in the 40s, ripping out most of the booths, opening up the windows on the front of the club, putting a chopper behind the bar and little touches like drum lights over the pool tables and of course getting a foes ball table. By February 1st the club looked like a club again not a college hang out.


The other thing they did was change the name to Hairy Mary's. the original Hairy Mary's was located on the south side of downtown. Open from I believe 91 until 94, It had been the first real live music club in Des Moines to break live original music. A club where you Not only saw regional and local standards or future standard but also up and coming alternative and grunge bands.


The feel was completely different and for the first time since Shawn had stepped away from the place it felt like the club was moving forward. The first weekend was a three day benefit featuring local and regional bands that raised over $1700.00. At the time the future of all ages shows was in question. After that weekend the question was answered. Even though many clubs have now followed suit by having all ages shows, the Safari was the club that first took the chance to do it and continued to do more than any other club in Des Moines.


I also continued to book with Jeff handling the club end of it. Since there were a few shows still booked under Jake. Two more shows Vanilla Ice & Reel Big Fish were allowed to go on. Then for the first time since November of 1997 all booking returned to the club. That was a good feeling. One of Jeff's biggest battle cries always has been and always will be independence. In 1999 some of the great bands that played the club were: the Chicken Hawks, Murder City Devils, Black Hallows, Gaza Strippers, Swinging Utters, Hellos Creed, APOCALYPSE HOBOKEN, Mercy Rule, Fear, Blood for Blood, Flatus, Loaded(ex-guns and roses, Black Flag), Slipknot, Woogles, Bantan Rooster, Nashville Pussy, Sister Machinegun, Bellrays, The Teenage Frames, Ensign, Zeke, RC5, Bob Log III, Paw, Nobodys, Marky Ramone, At the Drive-In, Hairy Apes BMX, Stepkings, AFI, Good Riddance, Sloppy Seconds, Candy Snatchers, The Weaklings and Man Scouts of America.


After a few months Jeff realized that running three businesses and booking was spreading him too thin. So Fathead took over his end of the booking. Even though a few outside people(mostly local bands) would set up shows for the most part all the booking till around August of 2000 was handled by me aka Axiom Promotions and Fathead.


As the year progressed I found myself less and less interested in booking and began to take more and more of a back seat to Fathead. I guess after almost 4 year full years of booking, at times as many as 5 shows a week, it's easy to get burnt out. Simply put I wasn't having fun anymore. So in August I decide to slowly phase out the booking. At around the same time Fathead began to break in Gus aka Snake to take over booking. I retired and then the club asked me to do the UK Subs in October and along the way, I picked up a few other shows. The last show that I did was on October 15th almost 4 years to the date of the first Axiom promotion's show. At that time Gus took over complete booking responsibilities. It was good to leave it in someone's hands that I feel is up to the job. Everyone keeps telling me that I'm not really done and they maybe right only time will tell.


As I look back now in December of 2000, I can't help but feel a warm pride in what I have lucky enough to be involved in. The people I've touched and been touched by, the idols that I met and all the good times that have happened in that building. I've had the pleasure of watching one of the top metal bands in the country and my friends, Slipknot cut their teeth and out grow the club. I've seen and booked what I think are some of the greatest bands to be around in the four years I was at it. I think the best part is that it's not over. There's still the same magic there that always has been and like music in general it's not the end of the story. There will always be a group of kids in a garage learning to play and maybe coming up with something special and I'm just happy that there is a place in Des Moines, Iowa where they can play called Hairy Mary's.




December 1st, 2000


Next Chapter - Chapter 08 - The post Script, the last song


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