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Musical collaboration

Fri., Oct. 10, 2008

Heavy hitters join forces to open Casbah

This is the house that music built.

The Casbah, a new night club opening next week downtown, was created almost entirely by the labor, love and vision of Spokane musicians.

Located at 416 W. Sprague Ave – a couple doors down from Mootsy’s and upstairs from Chicken-n-More – The Casbah is run by Skillet Jones frontman Dennis Henderson, who enlisted the help of local musicians to construct the club’s stylin’ interior.

“When you’re looking for cheap labor during the day, the people who are available are musicians,” Henderson said. “Being a musician and knowing people in that field – literally every aspect from floor to the ceiling, musicians had something to do with it.”

The Real Life Sound crew’s Juan Parris (Skillet Jones), Daniel Harrington (Ziryab) and saxophonist “Poncho” Paul Flores (The Groove Patrol) brushed the mobster-movie black and white strips on the grey walls; Jupiter Effect’s Derek Neau oversaw the construction of the bar that divides the foyer from the 299-capacity grand ballroom; Milonga bandleader Nic Vigil helped rip up the old floor while Burn Like Hellfire’s leader Brian Young built the new floors and helps manage the place; the music promoter is former B-Side owner and conga player Ben Cater, who books weekly live music at Raw Sushi and Island Grill.

Henderson discovered the multipurpose place while he was scouting out a location to open a restaurant, so he called his Supernova Inc. partners – his wife Julie and friend Trevor Bennett.

“I thought it could be a space where I could have everything I wanted and my friends wanted,” Henderson said. “You have choices when you go up there.”

In addition to the 2,900 square-foot ballroom with 1,200 feet of dedicated dance floor space, The Casbah offers a billiards room with a juke box, big screen television and two pool tables next to The Chill Room, a separate deejay lounge lined with cozy booths. There’s also a bar in the spacious entranceway hall. Three swank VIP balconies are tucked into the back of the grand ballroom with a line-drive view of the elevated stage.

While it’s mostly live instrumentation types holding the hammers, The Casbah is a destination spot mainly for deejays and dancing.

Expect choice dance-friendly live bands and touring acts in the grand ballroom, leaning on the funk and hip-hop persuasion, which is what Cater was known for at The B-Side.

The standard will be set at The Casbah’s grand opening party on Oct. 17 by Portland headliner and hip-hop scholar Ohmega Watts. Watts will be spinning a deejay set that explores jazz, soul, world, funk and 80s pop records. The show is free and starts at 10 p.m.

The Casbah closes out October with a free Halloween party headlined by Spokane’s finest, the illustrious James Pants, and Unified Groove Merchants owner Breezy Brown.


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