Since she joined forces last October with local promoter Andy Osofsky, Cheers owner Gaye Levine figures her Miami nightclub has hosted "just about every good band in town." That partnership, however, is now kaput: Word of Mouth, Osofsky's production company, has pulled out of its arrangement with Levine's SW Seventeenth Avenue bar.
"It seemed like no matter what I was trying to do to make it work, all I was doing was breaking even," Osofsky says of his three-month venture with Cheers, for which he booked local and national punk, alternative, and acoustic artists on Wednesdays and Saturdays. "I just decided that if breaking even is the best I can do, maybe it's not the right situation. I was taking a lot of financial hits and I just couldn't afford to do that."
Although most of Osofsky's bookings pulled in decent crowds, he points out that he lost money on shows that drew poorly, while the bar continued to rake in dollars from beverage sales. "On a night where the show may've drawn only 40 people, I would be running at a loss, but I promise you the bar was not losing money. I was hoping that [Cheers] would help out in a situation like that, but we became separate entities when that happened."
Levine, a veteran club owner who has been in the live-music business for seventeen years, says booking shows is a full-time job and that Osofsky wasn't devoting sufficient time to the operation. "The thing about doing shows is you have to get out there and hustle and let people know you're there," Levine states. "You've got to keep hammering people and bang them in the head to get them to notice you. Anything less just isn't going to cut it. I don't want to say anything bad, but Andy just didn't devote enough time to it. Making this work doesn't come from doing nothing; it comes from promoting."
Despite the split, Levine says Cheers will maintain its current live-music format: rock, alternative, and Latin bands on Wednesdays and Saturdays; all-ages punk shows on Thursdays and Sunday afternoons; and Latin rock on Sunday nights. The club's lesbian-bar night also continues, sans live music, on Fridays, and the club is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Upcoming shows include Island recording artist Arlan with opening acts the Holy Terrors and the Spam All-Stars on January 14, and a return appearance on February 15 by the Chicago-based ska band the Blue Meanies, who played at the club last November.
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Osofsky, who has been booking local shows for about a year and a half, says he plans to sponsor some music events at larger venues such as the Cameo and the Colony theaters, both located on Miami Beach. "I'd like to find another room and help establish it," Osofsky notes. "I'll just be more careful next time about all the circumstances." (John Floyd)