Welcome to Local Music 'Mericans , where we meet some of the people behind the local music scene -- those who aren't necessarily members of local bands, but more the people who make the scene move.
You may have seen Ken Evenson's tall, husky frame towering over the front doors of local music joints like Club Clearview, Curtain Club and Whiskey Bar and Trees. He's also been recruited as a stage manager for the odd Toadies concert or two, while also working as part of Matthew J.C.'s operation, Small Guy Music, for some of their previous showcases at places like the now-defunct Firewater Bar & Grill. On rare occasions, Evenson even fills in at some uptown clubs as a favor, but says that "keeping the peace in a suit feels very odd."
But, unlike a lot of club security guards, who can leave a rather menacing (or at times a rather blank) first impression on a patron, Evenson utilizes rather warm and friendly social skills at his front door posts -- he's always quick with a handshake and a little genuine laughter in the brief conversations he manages to squeeze in with many Deep Ellum passersby.
Truly, he seems to enjoy his work. And, even though such a job may carry the possibility of precarious and stressful scenarios, he seems to have the skills to make chopped liver out of chopped shit, and he always finds a way to keep it positive.
After the jump, we ask him how he does it, and about all the craziness he's seen over the years.
What motivates one to become a security guy at a live music club? Desire to help?
The desire to help just comes with having a good heart. What motivates one to do this? That varies. For me it was to meet people. After my divorce years ago, I had only three friends I hung out with, all of whom were married and didn't go out much. My youngest sister called me one day and asked if I could work one of the doors at Club Clearview for a benefit she was hosting. They were a guy short that night and I'd met the owners a few times. They told my sister, "Yeah! He's a big guy. Give him a call!" Apparently, I did such a good job that I was on payroll after. It was my first time working a live music venue, and the first time I worked a club since before I was married. Needless to say, after working Club Clearview and Curtain Club, I made so many new friends that I didn't have time to hang out with them all.
Some security guys seem to be associated with being a little impersonal, and maybe even unfriendly or grouchy. Your approach seems to be just the opposite. What's your secret to walking the fine line between firm enforcing and sociable friendliness?
I suppose it's my understanding of people in general. Everybody is different, so it makes no sense to treat everyone the same since their perceptions vary. I've had a lot of experiences in my life and have traveled extensively, so it's easy for me to find common ground with people from all walks of life. When most people feel like they are understood, they can be talked down from a potentially volatile situation and not feel threatened, insulted and/or humiliated. The job of any good bouncer is to see a problem before it escalates. A fight, or any scene that distracts the crowd, dissuades the crowd from wanting to come back. We're just trying to stop it from coming to that. Of course, there are those out there that can't be reasoned with, in which case I can be very intimidating and physical if needed.
Since it's re-birth, these new guys at Trees (in particular) seem to not only be nicer than average, but also helpful -- it's not uncommon to see you all helping bands load in gear, etc. Is this just a code between nice-guy security dudes? A new Trees policy?
It' a combination of both. Everybody at Trees has been in the service industry for years, including the owners. When Trees first re-opened, it was established that the staff be as friendly as possible to make sure that the people who walk through the door come back not only for the music but for the experience of always feeling welcome and having a good time. As far as security being extra helpful, it all boils down to a great group of guys who actually care about others -- famous or not -- and not walking around with a chip on their shoulder.
Lately, you've been diverting more of your time towards a day job over working the local music scene. Any particular reason for the decision?
Last August, I sustained an injury stag-managing a Toadies show out of town. I tore my Achilles tendon, ligament and muscle in my right calf. I had worked quite a few rough mosh pits the previous weeks before, and I guess I pushed myself too far. The injury left me unable to walk for two weeks. I was on crutches for two months and using a cane for almost three months. Needless to say, the injury did not help my waistline at all. About the time I was ready to start working Trees again, I got a job offer in printing. The money is good, so I couldn't pass it up. I still get called to work at Trees on occasion. Unfortunately, my job is very demanding, so I'm unable to work most of the time. The last show I worked was HELLYEAH.
You've obviously seen a lot of interesting drama working a post like yours. What's the wildest drama outside a club involving police and/or an ambulance?
The one that comes to mind the most happened years ago at Club Clearview. A female lead singer for a band was arguing with her jealous boyfriend in the parking lot, slapping him a few times. As I started heading over in their direction, she slapped him one too many times and he slapped her so hard she fell to the ground. Then he started to walk away. She was hollering obscenities at him as he walked. I caught up to him and informed him to keep walking, which he did -- until something she screamed struck a nerve and he spun around and tried to push me out of the way. I locked him up very quickly and lifted him off the ground in a very uncomfortable position and carried him to some police officers who were standing on the corner and did not witness the incident. Meanwhile, the singer changed her tone and screamed to please not arrest him. Once the police had him in handcuffs, I turned around to see the singer repeatedly strike one of her friends, who was screaming that the boyfriend was getting what he deserved. At that time, a female officer came up and placed the singer in handcuffs. In my opinion, they both deserved the weekend in jail.
Wildest drama involving combative females?
Two sisters who were hanging out at Trees started to fight in the women's restroom. It was a Sunday night, and I was the only one on the floor. I got them out of the bathroom first, but they kept going after each other and fell to the floor at least three times before I finally got them out the front door. What made that situation complicated is that one sister's husband was there, as well as the other sister's boyfriend and two of their cousins. It was pretty wild getting them all out the door!
Oddest, or most surreal thing, seen during Halloween season?
That would be a toss up between a good friend of mine who dressed up as someone who just got an abortion (surgical gown with blood on it, the whole works) and a young woman I saw last year with cup cake pasties on her nipples.
Craziest drama involving a local band and their groupies/fans/lovers?
Ah, refer to your previous questions for that one...
Finally, wildest scenario involving touring rock stars?
I'm sorry, but I am drawing a blank on this one. I guess I have been doing this for so long nothing surprises me or seems abnormal.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.