Deep Trouble: On Friday, October 14, the Entertainment Collective, owners of Gypsy Tea Room, Trees, Jeroboam and the Green Room, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Chapter 11 allows a company to continue operating while it reorganizes to repay its creditors (rather than, say, sell off the trees inside of Trees), so concerts will still go on, but according to EC Vice President Whit Meyers, their situation isn't entirely typical.
"I've done most of the reorganization already, cutting overhead and eliminating staff and expenses," Meyers says. "The real problem is I've had multiple transactions which would've sold assets, provided new investments or sold equity, and each of those has been thwarted due to our inability to settle outstanding litigation." Or, in plain English, people who have offered to purchase or invest in any of the EC's properties have been scared off by the possibility of a civil lawsuit judgment for David Cunniff, the victim of an assault by Jesse Chaddock at the Gypsy Tea Room on July 25, 2004. Although the criminal trial resulted in a 19-year sentence for Chaddock, the subsequent civil suit, which has not yet gone to trial, alleges that negligence on the part of the EC was a contributing factor to the attack.
"We can't raise any money," Meyers says. "We've been handcuffed. This'll give us an opportunity to work out an orderly going-forward plan."
Entertainment Collaboration files bankruptcy
Meyers says that because of Chapter 11, if Cunniff were to win a judgment in court, he would become another creditor in the bankruptcy reorganization. In addition, he concedes that "if someone comes in, wants to buy Gypsy Tea Room and pay X, and all the creditors think that's a terrific idea, then that's probably what the judge is going to do." The EC also now shares Chapter 11 status with Curtain Club, which is still restructuring thanks to a default judgment of $2 million awarded against the company in September 2004 that is still being appealed.
Worst of all, the EC's Chapter 11 filing proves that all the rumors of financial peril I've heard about the EC have at least some truth to them, and there's no telling what will happen to the Gypsy Tea Room, Deep Ellum's indisputable king of quality concerts, in the months to come. But at least Meyers is optimistic.
"I told this to my staff--we've hit the bottom of the trough. The opportunity will be there for Deep Ellum to rebound, and we need to be in a position to take advantage of that."
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Got a hunch: In last week's Rock Lottery 7 review, I made a plea for local musicians to play more unique, interesting concerts around town. The next day, as if to answer my prayers, I got an e-mail about this Thursday's 7 p.m. presentation of the Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Dallas Museum of Art. No, not the Disney craparama--this is the original 1923 silent film, and rather than back the flick with a CD of classical music, the DMA has gathered some of the finest hands in local music to perform a score for the movie written by 90.1 At Night's Paul Slavens. In addition to three-fourths of hard rock lords Baboon, members of Mission Giant, Hand of Onan, Pointy Shoe Factory and other local bands will help turn the silent classic into a crazy-sounding work of art.
Week of handstamps: Thursday: After the DMA's 7 p.m. show, head to the Gypsy Tea Room for LCD Soundsystem (The Beatdown). Friday: The Heartless Bastards (Critics' Picks) will be done early, which should give you time to drive to Rubber Gloves and see Arlington's twee-and-grin-tastic Man Factory open for rap genius Why? and indie delight Aqueduct (or, if you're in a calmer mood, hop across Denton to Hailey's and see local crowd-silencer Bosque Brown open for John Vanderslice). Saturday: If, for some reason, you hate U2 (B-Sides), Iron and Wine or Calexico (Critics' Picks), go back to Rubber Gloves for the Appleseed Cast. Monday: The second-best band I saw at this year's SXSW, Boston's Apollo Sunshine, is headlining a mind-blowing post-punk bill at Gypsy Tea Room that includes Louisiana's oh-so-fine Go Go Go Airheart. Tuesday: Rock legends like John Cale (Critics' Picks) don't do it for you? Then see rap legends Digable Planets at the Gypsy Tea Room instead. Wednesday: Watch Lucero's Memphis country-rock make mincemeat out of Trees.
And if you people complain about a lack of shows in Dallas ever again, I will point at this week with one hand and slap you in the mouth with the other. Go see some good music.