Hearsay: Wednesday, December 15, 2004
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
He Had a Dreamworld

John Tunnell always dreamed of owning a rock club. Then he opened Dreamworld Music Complex, in Arlington. But instead of living like Axl Rose, Tunnell mostly found himself starring in a Kafka-esque nightmare. (“The Sound and the Fury,” July 5, 2001)


So after four years, Tunnell has thrown in the towel and sold out to investors. (To glom the gory details, cruise to www.johntunnell.com and read chapters 11 and 12 of his online autobiography.) The myriad problems faced by any under-funded, small-time businessman can make for a riveting yarn, but Tunnell seems to have had a preternatural gift for summoning Murphy’s Law. He faced a steady stream of petty bullshit from Arlington government officials, inspectors, and cops and early on learned that his wife had been having an affair while he was scrambling to avoid bankruptcy. Yeah, Tunnell is partly to blame for some of his problems; he has a borderline martyr complex and doesn’t always put himself in a position to succeed. (He’s the only person HearSay knows who fell for the “Nigerian Letter Scam” ... to the tune of $37,000.) But ya gotta love him. Reached recently by phone, the irrepressible Tunnell looked back on his rocky years of rock club ownership with fondness. “I’m not saying it was all peaches and cream, but it wasn’t all bad memories,” he said. “The things that were hard were the cops and the debt but not the people who came out there and supported the bands. Most of them I’m still in contact with.” New owners are remodeling the club and modifying the all-ages, no-alcohol concept. (The place is now BYOB.) A grand re-opening party, on Dec. 4, will be headlined by (gulp!) Pimpadelic. As for Tunnell, he’s got enough on his plate to keep him busy, including creating and producing records, 3-D animation stuff, music videos, and independent films. “[The new owners] got a good price, and I got what I needed, which was a little bit of room to grow in new areas,” he said. “I got myself out of debt and that’s a good thing.”

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