No Shelter

Why an all-ages club grew old so quickly.

Open Range
Iron Maiden's Janick Gers led a triple-guitar attack at - Blossom last week. - Walter  Novak
Iron Maiden's Janick Gers led a triple-guitar attack at Blossom last week.

In a little more than a month of operation, the all-ages club Shelter was already showing signs of progress.

"We were kicking butt," says owner Doug Kirschner. "We had some pretty good shows, where the place was packed, and the kids were loving it. Parents were loving it. Parents were dropping their kids off and actually staying to see the shows."

But if parents and kids were loving the Shelter, the City of Cleveland wasn't. While Kirschner was out of town on business in late July, the club was shut down by the city for operating without an occupancy permit. Kirschner says he applied for the permit and was under the impression that he could run his club in the meantime.

"I did talk with the City of Cleveland before we did this, to see if they were about it, and a lot of people we talked to were right on with it," Kirschner says. "Then, when push came to shove, they weren't with us anymore."

The city has a different take.

"I talked to Doug, I told him what some of the concerns were from the community," says Merle Gordon, councilwoman for Cleveland's Ward 15, which includes the Memphis-Fulton Plaza where the Shelter was located. "I asked him if he had all the appropriate permits, and at that time, he wasn't sure what permits they had; nor did he really know what time the club closed. He told me everybody is out by 10 o'clock, and that's not in fact true.

"There was never a desire to close the establishment down -- that was not the intent at all," Gordon adds. "It's just that he needs to have the appropriate permits, and we need to make sure that they're not bothering the neighbors, that they're not there past a certain time, that loitering issues are dealt with."

For his rush to open the Shelter, Kirschner is left clutching a good idea that went bad -- and struggling to climb out of a hefty financial hole.

"I lost over $10,000 within the last month," he says with a sigh. "I lost my house. I lost my car. I lost everything I had." He may consider getting back into club booking, once he gets his finances in order. For now, he's looking for a new line of work.

"I can't really book shows anymore, because all the booking agents are pissed off with me because I had to cancel shows," he says. "My career in this is pretty much dead."

· Ass-kickin' rock upstarts Amps II Eleven have signed a deal with Nevada's Smog Veil records to issue their forthcoming debut.

"We feel that with our astounding plagiarism of more notable bands, such as the Hellacopters, Grand Funk, Motörhead, Rocket From the Crypt, and Talk Talk, we will finally smash through that glass ceiling and have the kids bopping from Luckenbach, Texas, to Minot, North Dakota," Amps bassist Tony Erba quips. "Or maybe we'll just record a CD catchier than a Chinaman with SARS and play all over the goddamned country -- as long as it's within a 12-hour radius of Cleveland and the Browns ain't at home that weekend."

The band intends to hit the studio this fall, aiming for a release by the end of the year.

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