Crushing Rocks: Sunset Junction Reborn

Breathe in that fresh, crisp air. Get a taste of that new year. It’s nice, right?

As an adult, I find that January 1 rolling around means more to me each year. Last January I made a promise that I would whip myself into (physical) shape. It was the first time I have ever followed through on something of that sort, and it reminded me that with our little friend Resolve we are able to accomplish quite a lot.

This is the twelfth column I’ve logged for Out There, and throughout the past year local music has hit bumps, gotten bruises and made big changes. 2009 was transition-heavy—a major writer moved largely to the online sphere, a few artists made their exits, some venues shuttered, while others relocated (some whined publicly about it, some suffered in silence)—and now it’s with Resolve that the scene and its biggest advocates venture into a fresh, new year.

By now you’ve likely heard that PLATFORM BOOKING and its hard-working stalwart PATRICK KENDRICK are transitioning booking duties from CATERINA WINERY to SUNSET JUNCTION in Browne’s Addition (1801 W. Sunset Blvd.). It’s a big decision during a time in which the local scene is in need of another jumpstart. The Big Three of local music are all working to make sense of recent upheaval. THE BLVD. is still re-establishing itself in a once-maligned location. EMPYREAN is hard at work moving to the space previously inhabited by the BIG DIPPER (those wheels are in motion as I type). And now, ever-ambitious Kendrick is taking on possibly the least favorable space of the three (take, for example, 40-year Spokane resident Ashley’s Dad’s response on hearing the news: “That place?” And he’s not alone…).

But Patrick Kendrick’s not in the habit of letting us down. He revitalized a stale music scene while manning a hole in the wall coffee shop, and then became the resulting patron saint of said scene upon Rock Coffee’s strong-armed closure. After the drama-filled dust settled, he set his sights on converting a would-be stuffy winery into a well-rounded, diverse venue that appealed to both the yuppies and the punks, and succeeded. He continued efforts beyond Caterina, punching the figurative clock for events like Elkfest and the 2-year-old multimedia extravaganza that is Terrain. Sunset Junction’s questionable rep doesn’t stand a chance. Times they are a-changin’.

“Everybody should win in the local music scene,” Patrick repeated emphatically to me on the phone when we talked recently about his new venture, before adding with his pitch-perfect sarcasm, “I know that’s a crazy idea.” But the simple sentiment is what makes the man’s operation functional (and successful) on a regular basis. It’s built a reputation for him with bands near and far, and helped him keep his aforementioned halo securely in place with local media, bands and figureheads. A challenge lies ahead, but he’s the man for the job.

Here’s what the Sunset transition means: Platform Booking now operates in a larger space (nearly 200 capacity) that’s already fully-equipped for those new sprinkler laws, and gets rolling as soon as the ball drops in 2010 (read: ASAP). Aside from a few extra blocks outside of downtown for you non-Additioners, the new space will soon be the place to be. Trust me.

Sunset Junction’s first Platform-booked shows start January 8 with Kevin Long, Annie O’Neill, and Brandon O’Neill and January 9 with Buffalo Jones and Plastic Saints. Watch for a host of new ideas, among them DJ nights, “Practice Space” nights, and more in the coming weeks and months.

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