Last Call: Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Fairmount Trying to Stay Afloat

Owners of The Fairmount, the large music venue on the South Side, have until Thursday to generate $25,000 to pay taxes, insurance premiums, and a renewed license with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission –– TABC licenses are now for two years and require double the fees up front. “I know this is short notice,” wrote Sally Birthisel in a recent MySpace bulletin, “and I don’t know who will be in the area to help. We are not used to asking for assistance, but pride cannot stand in the way of keeping this venue alive. I think it means too much to too many outstanding musicians and music listeners to just go out of business without a fight.” She co-owns the club with J.R. Whitfield and has been making payments “a little bit every day, in good faith.”
She and Whitfield were caught by surprise. An investor with whom the co-owners were in negotiations passed away unexpectedly last week. “He was a friend of mine for 40 years,” said Birthisel, who is asking all musicians who either have played The Fairmount or who will in the near future to help raise funds. Upcoming performers Owen Temple, Jason Eady, and Tommy Alverson have already committed to contributing to the cause. “People have donated things that we’ll be auctioning off,” Birthisel said. “We’re not collecting covers Monday through Thursday,” per the club’s standing policy, “but we’re accepting donations.”
A fund-raiser featuring experimental folkies Pumpkin Sea, noir-folk singer-songwriter Clint Niosi, contempo-blueswoman Miss Marcy, and Americana artist Chris Curtis is scheduled for Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
Birthisel noted that she’s put up signage inside the club to make patrons aware of the situation. “It’s a little embarrassing,” she said, “but it’s not personal. When you care a lot about music, it does become personal, though.”
Oddly enough, big-name acts such as the three aforementioned plus Leon Russell and Chris Knight are part of the reason The Fairmount has found itself in financial trouble. “We’re making more money,” she said. “Our taxes are higher.”
Birthisel thinks The Fairmount will survive, pointing to a previous fund-raiser for a friend facing exorbitant medical expenses –– the club raised about $11,000 for him. “I think we’re going to make it,” she said. “I’m getting e-mails and donations right now.”
Plan B? “We’ll continue to raise funds, reapply, and reopen,” Birthisel said.
To help or for more information, contact Birthisel at “Please call me with any ideas, artists willing and able to help, or an investor that believes in what we are doing here,” she wrote. — Anthony Mariani

Drunk Dialing Be Gone!
We’ve all done it: gotten a little tipsy and, feeling gregarious and much smarter and cooler than we actually are, texted or dialed someone we probably shouldn’t be texting or dialing, at least not while inebriated. Something to do with booze bringing out the truth and all. Thankfully, local entrepreneur Carly Wray has co-authored Don’t Dial, an iPhone and BlackBerry app that lets users block “tempting contacts” for up to 24 hours. All you need to do is choose a trustworthy friend as your designated dialer, who will slow your roll by password-protecting “the dangerous numbers in your phonebook,” says Wray. Don’t Dial won’t be available to BlackBerry users for about another week, but the app is available for sale now to iPhone users at the iTunes store or at The cost? Only 99 pennies. A meager sum to pay to save yourself from some potential head-burying shame. ­­–– A.M.

In last week’s column (“Eat, Drink, Be Merry, Eat,” April 1), I incorrectly identified a Buttons bartender as a former employee of 8.0 Restaurant and Bar. Austin actually came from Ovation Dining and Entertainment. I regret the error. –– Laurie Barker James
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