Comments from carlekennedy

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carlekennedy commented about Sombrero Playhouse on Dec 24, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Hi Frenchy

Great to hear from you. Yes I owned Big 7 After Hours along with my 2 partners Mike Metko who you mentioned and Jim Musil Jr whose dad Jim Sr built and owned JD’s in Tempe where Waylon Jennings became famous. Jim Jr took over JD’s after his dad passed.He also recorded Waylon’s first live album from JD’s

Most people just called it and knew it as “After Hours” but the name we put on all the flyers/leaflets we put out and the free black/gold match books was “Big 7 After Hours”. We sure packed'em in that place. It was the only “After Hours” in Phoenix at the time except for a very small place in south Phoenix called “The Ebony Door”, which was mostly black people and a few of us “whiteys” who they tolerated.

B7AF was in between Sombrero Playhouse and the Islands restaurant. you entered from 7 St and drove east down a long driveway on the right side a vacant lot to a large parking lot. …The B7AF building was to the far left as you entered the parking lot from the far right. It was a warehouse we renovated into our after hours club. There was a large dark blue sign with “After Hours” in silver sparkle and some silver sparkle stars with a spotlight shinning on it so the copy and stars glittered or sparkled.

Yes you remember all those things correctly. The canal was to the back/rear of the club and the parking lot. Mike Metko’s group was our house band with bands from all over the valley setting in. We even had The Righteous Bros(Bobbie and Bill), Jan and Dean and many others from Stage 7 set in.

Yes the bandstand was located on the back/rear wall with burlap wall curtains behind bandstand. Curtains were 4ft wide red and yellow alternating stripes from ceiling to floor and all the way from left wall to right wall. You entered the club from door in middle. there was a snack bar to the far left where we sold coke, seven up, orange pop, coffee, hot steamed tamales and chile dogs. Restrooms were also to the far left behind or next to snack bar. Tables with red table cloths and alternating red and yellow glass candle containers lined both sides of the club with a few tables connecting both sides of table rows close to club entrance,4 chairs per table. The very large rectangular dance floor was of course in the middle. We had 3 Phoenix police officers Chuck S, Bob S, Bernie T (motorcycle cops) in full police uniform out front to make sure everything remained peaceful and everybody felt safe.

I spent a lot of time in the “Night Life”. Yes Phoenix had some great blues clubs and the music and dancing was fantastic. Also spent a lot of time in “Char’s Has The Blues” I’m trying to remember “Frenchy”(Karen)…. do you have red hair?

You’re right Frenchy …… really great memories Yes I’m happy in Thailand, thanks for asking

Really great to hear from you Let’s stay in touch …

carlekennedy commented about Sombrero Playhouse on Jul 28, 2011 at 3:23 am

Hi gang My names Carl Kennedy. I lived in Phoenix for 46 years. 1960 to 2006…….I left at 68 years old to live in Thailand, where I am now

I was Advertising/Promotion Director KPHO TV Ch5 for several years. Acct exec for various ad agency’s. Sales Mgr for several graphic firms. Bartended in many clubs. Was head bartender At JD’s the double decker night club in Tempe where Waylon Jennings recorded his first live album and became famous. Ricky Nelson, Everly Bros etc played there to packed houses, 750+ upstairs, 350+ downstairs. Owned a bar. Owned the first after hours club in Phoenix. Did and saw a lot in Phoenix’s growth years

The Sombrero was not at 7st and Highland. You have Camelback Rd Going south you have
Mariposa St
Pierson St
Sombrero Playhouse
Big 7 After Hours (I owned it) Islands Retaurant (4839 7st)
Highland Ave Coolidge St Char’s has the Blues (4631 N 7St) (NE corner Coolidge) Hazelwood St canal

Sombrero was many things to many people Excellent movies, plays etc in it’s heyday Got to be a hangout for social wannabe’s Just a great great place with lots of nostalgic history.

There was no bridge between Sombrero and the Islands Rest. Just plain old cement side walk The bridge they are remembering was the entrance to the Islands Rest. There was a fake moat, water and all (approx 10/12 ft wide) in front of the Islands with lots of tropical folaige on both sides. The bridge spanned this neat moat and you had to walk across it to enter/exit the rest. Inside was all beautiful bamboo walls, tabels chairs, bar walking ramps etc and carpet in all the right places Yes Rusty Warren did appear there many times but the big draw was “The Ricardo Lemus Trio” piano, bass and drums, Ricardo was on the drums. He did a drum routine twice a night that featured him with reverb(echo) effect electronically attached to his drums. When he hit drums the beat would echo quite a bit while fading away. It was fascinating to hear and watch. The crowd went wild. The rest owner was “Mr White” who quite often got drunk in rest and was hustled away by the Mgr “Jimmey” who was a very handsome Asian getleman who dressed impeccably in dark suites mostly black sharkskin, white shirt and a beautiful white silk tie. He ran that place like a well oiled clock. I worked there for quite a while. was called assisstant Maitre’d. Just a glorified name for host. I greeted people in the anteroom/entrance which was also where the cashier was and the exit. Also where all the polynesian mugs, cups, nik naks etc were sold People waited for their table also when bar was full. In it’s heyday reservations was a must. Once you left anteroom and headed for your table you walked down a ramp into the sunken dinning area which you entered at the far right and all tables to the left. On the complete left wall was a beatiful tropical garden setting complete with waterfall. Running gurgling water sounds were subtly piped into the whole place just loud enough to sound genuine but not loud enough to tell it was electronic. The bar on the same level as anteroom was to the left and also had several tables and chairs some chairs being the beautiful hi-backed Queens chairs. In back of the bar was an electronically lit (lights etc) 3D topographical display layout of Phoenix and Valley of the Sun. Camelback Mtn, Sky Harbor AP etc

Another story about Islands. A very quiet but effeciant oriental waiter named Henry worked there for years. Had people who would not dine unless he was their waiter. Lived on the rest. grounds, little small units in back of parking lot. Rumored to have only 3 pair of under wear and 2 sets of waiter attire. He washed all every night and rotated them daily. Never went anywhere. Saved all his tips and lived like a hermit. Some people joked about his existance, some pitied him. When he left it was found he owned a couple blocks of RE in downtown LA and lived like a king the rest of his life.

Phew….. that was long huh! If anybody would like to hear about JD’s and Waylon let me know an I’ll post. Will keep it short