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A stage in Fife

An interview with Louie Galarza about his new venue and where it's heading

CODY RENTAS: He'll be at Louie G's Saturday. Photo by Pappi Swarner

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Seeing as Louie G's Pizzeria opened a mere four years ago, in 2007, it could be said that it's still finding itself as a restaurant. What seems abundantly clear, however, is that the space is certainly still finding itself as our newest all-ages music venue. Having recently moved up the street from its old location on Pacific Highway E. to a bigger space near the Poodle Dog, owner and operator Louie Galarza decided to take advantage of the new size and build a stage.

"We built a small stage for karaoke," says Galarza. "We built the stage out a little bigger, and I got a hold of Chris Pederson, who used to do sound at (the Cedarwood Sports Bar & Grill), and was a friend of my friends. Next thing you know we just started building it bigger and bigger and bigger. Then we started booking shows, and I'm not just booking any show."

Originally, the booking was done by Larry Barber, known to many locally as Potter, and featured local punk and metal acts like Apache Chief and CFA. Potter left Louie G's earlier this month, and since then the direction and vibe of the bookings has notably changed.

"We're trying to get top-notch stuff or nothing at all," says Galarza. "(I played shows) in the '80s and '90s, and I didn't want it to be that same (scene), with people puking and fighting in the back. ... I do it for the fun, and I do it for the music. I don't do it to create revenue, because that's not what it does. We don't do any hard alcohol. Everything we get at the door is a donation to the band. And bands go, ‘Wow, that's weird,' when it comes to the end of the night and I hand them money. ... Back in the day, I had to pay to play, in the '80s and '90s. We had to sell tickets to play, and I'm doing just the opposite."

Part of Galarza's plan to ensure there is money at the door to give to the bands is to book bands that are sure to fill up the space. This means less of a lean toward punk acts, and more of an emphasis on cover bands and blues-rock.

"We're not looking for 30 percent, we're looking for 100 percent," says Galarza of the quality of talent that he aims to book. "For example: Rane Stone; Rikk Beatty was just here Saturday night; James Hunnicutt; Cody Rentas Band; tributes - you know, just big stuff. I don't mind some of the punk bands. I took a couple of them in. I love CFA; I love the Plastards and the Fun Police. ... We just don't need those 30 percent-ers. There are other places for that."

Galarza takes pride in creating a kind of rock-star atmosphere for the bands that come and play.

"I'm trying to do it completely the way I was never treated (when I played music)," says Galarza. "That's why, when I built this stage, I built it big enough for these bands to come in and go, ‘Wow.' People wanted me to throw money into the Volcano and the Fife Free Press and the News Tribune. And I said, ‘No, man. Lighting, stage and sound.' I sold my quad and bought lights. Word of mouth built my pizzeria business, and now we're going to let word of mouth build the venue."

Galarza tells me that he receives up to 20 calls a day from bands asking about getting booked at Louie G's, which seems to suggest this word-of-mouth is working. As the venue shapes up over the next few months, it'll be interesting to see how it continues to grow and finds its footing in a market that, if nothing else, is in desperate need of a good, stable all-ages venue.

Louie G's Pizzeria

Nolan Garrett, Cody Rentas Band
Saturday, April 23, 8 p.m., all ages, no cover (donation suggested)
5219 Pacific Highway E., Fife

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