By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
In my most recent column ("Bits and Pieces," January 20), I wrote about Richard Larralde's efforts to revive The Alley, a rock club in Little Havana. After closing the place in October, he brought in Jason Lobel and Leo Valencia, and subsequently threw a handful of shows in anticipation of an official grand opening this month. I remarked that Lobel "has been booking and promoting shows around town (including Plaid Fridays at the now-closed Diamond Lounge) since moving here from Boston three years ago."
Shortly after the column appeared, Juan Oña, drummer for The Brand, sent me an e-mail requesting a correction: "Omar Garcia, Leo Valencia, and I started Plaid a few years ago at the Diamond Lounge. We have taken Plaid from the now-closed Diamond Lounge to Churchill's. At no point was Jason Lobel involved in the booking or production of Plaid. He was merely a street teamer for the last few Plaids at Churchill's. Leo Valencia or anyone from The Brand is not affiliated with The Alley group in any way."
Oña also sent this message out to his own e-mail list, posted it in the feedback area of our Website (www.miaminewtimes.com), and encouraged his friends to write letters to the editor. In response, Dominic Siranni, bassist for The Remnants, sent in a scathing appraisal of my work. "I must ask myself how close to the music scene in Miami Mr. Reeves is." He added, "Perhaps he has become slothful and is content with armchair journalism."
5501 NE 2nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33137
Category: Bars and Clubs
Region: Midtown/Wynwood/Design District
Another letter, this one written by Kristina Miranda, pointed out, "I was present during the renovation of The Alley, and was bothered to see that nowhere in the recent Basshead article does it mention members of The Brand, Juan Oña and Omar Garcia, who, along with their family members and friends, worked very hard to bring The Alley (at the time it was The Door) to life. And furthermore, Jason Lobel was never part of Plaid Fridays at the Diamond Lounge and should not be given the credit for promoting those shows."
Well, seeing as everyone is all riled up about a short piece that sought to celebrate the resurrection of The Alley, not denigrate The Brand, I figured I should get off my ass and actually do some "journalism."
The Brand began its Plaid Fridays event at the Diamond Lounge in early 2003, a fact I should have clearly pointed out in the column. By all accounts, Plaid Fridays was a major success that spotlighted the local rock scene. When Diamond Lounge suddenly closed in the fall of 2004, The Brand began having Plaid at Churchill's Pub. The November concert went so well that they decided to make it a monthly event. (There was no Plaid event in January; the next one is February 4.)
In my original conversation with Lobel, I asked him which parties he had "booked or promoted" in Miami. He said that he had worked with Plaid Fridays. I automatically assumed this meant Plaid Fridays at Diamond Lounge, but he was referring to Plaid at Churchill's Pub. "The members of The Brand asked me to help them out with Plaid. I booked a couple of bands, and I did promoting," says Lobel, adding that he was responsible for The Super Rad and Project Mayhem being added to the lineup in December.
However, Oña says that Lobel wasn't involved in booking Plaid shows at Churchill's Pub, either. "He was just involved in dispersing flyers," says Oña. "But never was he actually involved in the production, promotion, or booking." He acknowledges that Lobel may have helped bring in "one or two bands," but asserts, "that's really almost insignificant as to what Plaid really is and what it stands for."
In one of the aforementioned letters to the editor, Miranda asserted that The Brand was involved in getting The Alley restarted. This is true; I didn't mention it because Lobel never brought it up in our original conversation.
According to the people I spoke with -- Oña, Lobel, and The Brand's bassist, Leo Valencia -- The Brand initially participated in renovating The Alley with Larralde. (Larralde couldn't be reached before press time.) "We brought [Lobel] in when The Alley people contacted us," says Oña. For a time, it was called The Door, and a few shows were even held under that name, before the group decided to rename the venue The Alley.
In December The Brand had a falling out with Larralde and Lobel. No one would elaborate on what the exact circumstances were. "Essentially, there was a change in vision," says Oña. "Near its completion, Richard and Jay saw things differently than The Brand did. We just felt that we didn't want to do Plaid at The Alley."
Oña claims that The Brand has disassociated itself from The Alley. But Valencia says that's not true. He's still working on the club, but doesn't want to publicize his ongoing role for fear of "betraying" The Brand. "My band is my life. That's all I do," he says.
"I'm in a band with a group of guys, and I'm friends with another group of guys, [and both] happen to hate each other ... or, not exactly hate each other, but don't want to have anything to do with each other. It puts me in the middle," says Valencia. "It's like watching your peers get a divorce."
How did a positive story about The Alley turn into yet another ego-driven wrestling match, with yours truly caught in the middle? "It's stupid to me," says Valencia. "This whole thing is ridiculous." Well, for the record, I would like to wish everyone the best of luck.