LOS ANGELES — A new showcase club called the Place has opened in Eugene, Ore., filling a musical void in the Eugene/Portland area.
The 350-seat club opened its doors Feb. 1 and has thus far presented Norton Buffalo, Elvis Costello, Hometown Band, Pat Travers, Tom Waits and Roger McGuinn, and Gene Clark.
Club owner and promoter Alan Kovak cites market demographics as a major impetus behind the club's opening and future success. According to a survey, 47% of the market is 18-34-year-olds.
Until now the only other outlets in the city were the Univ. of Oregon's basketball facility and the 1,250-seat Lane County Fairground.
Also, Eugene's top-rated radio station KZEL-FM has been influential in breaking records, prompting labels to support the club with new acts the station has exposed.
"Because the station is breaking records." says Kovak, "labels are reciprocating and are enthusiastic about the situation."
The club is also convenient to agents to round out West Coast tour dales. Artists can now make the San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and now Eugene circuit.
The interior of the Place is done up in rustic decor. A 10-foot by 12-foot modular stage has the capacity to expand to 24-feet by 24-feet; there are two bars at opposite ends of the room, tables, and a $30,000 sound system, notes Kovak.
He says his experience as a promoter has given him insight into the kinds of environment musicians enjoy playing in.
The Place is open seven nights a week with usually two shows per night. A regional act opens the show.
Ticket prices have varied so far from a low of $1.50 for the Hometown Band to a high of $5 for Tom Waits. Norton Buffalo was priced at $4.50 while Roger McGuinn was $3.50.
Kovak says his audiences are a mix of university students and regional residents. He did some mail-order shows with 24%-26% of the response coming from persons as far as 50 miles away. About 25% were students with the remainder Eugene residents.
The club has its own stage manager and lighting technician from Kovak's own in-house production company called Totally Dedicated to Artists Productions. "We're building a stable of artists that otherwise wouldn't come to Eugene." states Kovak.
While the club is now 10,000-12,000 square feet, it has the capacity to be expanded to 27,000 square feet. Kovak eventually plans on enlarging the seating capacity to 750 seats and by April book only nationally known acts.
Acts scheduled to appear in the future include the Amazing Rhythm Aces, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Shaw, Karla Bonoff, Country Joe McDonald, James Cotton, Esther Phillips, Tom Rush, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee and Stan Kenton.