Business

Churchill's Pub Owner Seeks Record for Most Live Performers and a $2 Million Buyer

Dave Daniels wants $2 million for Churchill's Pub in Little Haiti, and he's got to come up with a way to justify it. A world record might help, he thinks, so the 72-year-old Brit is going back through old tear sheets, newspaper ads and flyers to calculate just how many individual live performances his venue has hosted since 1979.

Although his assistant, Rob Jones, has only gone back through about two-and-a-half years worth of bands so far, Daniels' is projecting the final tally will be well over 20,000. He's asking other venue owners to attempt similar cataloging projects to see if Churchill's will be able to truly claim a world record.

The record category doesn't even exist with Guinness, but CBGB and The Bitter End, the oldest venue in New York, are also possible contenders for the title. The former was open for 33 years before shuttering in 2006, and the later has been open and hosting bands 361 days a year since 1961. But how does Churchill's -- which has often been called the CBGB of the South -- stack up to the real thing?

"We launched more bands to stardom than they did, but in terms of quality..." Daniels trailed off inside his cluttered office, his eyes wandering out the window and focusing on a giant white bus with "Churchill's" on the side.

But Daniels is going for quantity over quality. He's had Jones set up an Excel spreadsheet and devise a formula to eliminate doubles in the tally. (Solo and acoustic acts don't make the cut, either.) His is a slow and imperfect method, but it's better than anyone else's.

"CBGB was famously mismanaged, so I seriously doubt there was anyone keeping track of who was there and how often," Amanda Raab of the Rock 'n' Roll History Museum told Riptide. "The only reference would be the place itself. If they say X, you're going to have to believe them."

One place making a lofty, difficult-to-prove claim is in San Marcos, Texas. Triple Crown has hosted three to five acts every single day for the past 6,000 days, a streak that includes more than a dozen Christmases and Thanksgivings. Both Daniels and Triple Crown's Ken Gorka estimate they book "80 to 100" bands per month.

Although Daniels could be looking for attention when he claims Churchill's is for sale (there is currently no listed realtor for the address), he's also using his quest a chance to antagonize the hipster bars in Wynwood and the ubiquitous DJ nights that he says are hurting his reputation as a Miami cornerstone.

"We're not being taken seriously right now," he said. "I've got to establish that there is a market for live music and that we're the best at that."

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Allie Conti was a fellow at Miami New Times and a staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach, where her writing won awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. She's now the senior staff writer at Vice and a contributor to the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Atlantic.