By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Best cow in town: "That is fucking outrageous," Salim Nourallah told us over the phone on Monday. "I hate those fuckers."
The 2006 Dallas Observer Music Award winner seldom gets so angry, so what's irritated this soft-spoken father? Why, the Curtain Club/Liquid Lounge/Club Clearview complex.
A few weeks ago, we talked about the improving state of affairs in Deep Ellum as of late (Is This On?, June 1). The opinion came with a big asterisk, calling the CLC complex out for a steady decline in its booking since the three clubs merged in early 2003. Really, we didn't emphasize it enough. The problem isn't just that we don't like the bands playing at those three clubs. Rather, with less competition between the venues, booking has softened into a no-name wasteland of generic bands that we'd expect at Firewater Bar & Grill, and the former glory of those clubs--when hard rockers like Slow Roosevelt would actually play anywhere near quirky bands like Chomsky--has vanished. Crowd sharing doesn't happen anymore, which was what made Deep Ellum interesting in the old days.
The complex took offense and attacked us in its advertisement the following week. Before calling us "a worthless, meaningless, close-minded nobody critic" and saying we're trying to insult their fans (right...call us freedom haters, while you're at it), they listed some award-winning bands who've played recent CLC gigs. Nourallah was included in this list (with his name misspelled, nonetheless), and he's none too happy 'bout it.
"It gets under my skin that someone from their camp would drop my name, as if they've supported me," he says, and he's not shy about his grievances. Nourallah claims to have only played at CLC venues twice in the past three years, and at his most recent gig, opening for El Gato, his band was paid "only 10 bucks" (and we were at the gig, so we know they played to a larger crowd than that).
Worse, he calls CLC booking agent Doug Simmons "the bane of the universe" and says "Simmons has never in any way, shape or form been about anything other than numbers, herding people in."
He shares a story from years ago, when Simmons worked at Trees and tried to book Nourallah for a small, midweek gig. "He gave me a whole spiel--it's about the number of people you draw. I said, 'I've just started managing this cow from the mid-cities that can play the tambourine. I guarantee he can draw 150-200 people. Would you be willing to book him?' His response was, if he really did, we would. That just about sums him up...but that's why he's still around. He's a crafty businessman."
We left a voice mail for Simmons on Monday, offering Nourallah's quotes and asking for a response. Among other things, we would've asked about Nourallah's accusation of getting low-balled on a gig payment, a story that we've heard countless times off the record about CLC before. On Tuesday, Simmons returned our call at 6:45 a.m. and left this message: "The only comment that we wish to say is fuck you and Salim, and you're both stupid son-of-a-bitches. You can put that on the record if you'd like to. That's our comment--fuck you and fuck Salim, and you're both a couple of fucking knothead motherfuckers who ain't never gonna be no more than what you are right now."
Download that voice mail in MP3 format at Unfair Park on Thursday.