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Shake-up at Vino’s 

Club goes after older crowd.

click to enlarge NEW BOOKING TALENT: At Vino's.
  • NEW BOOKING TALENT: At Vino's.

It's a new era at Vino's. Earlier this week, Joey Lucas took over as talent buyer for the pizzeria and brewpub from Samantha Allen, who has handled booking for the club for the last two and a half years. Both Lucas and Allen said the change reflects Vino's desire to attract an older crowd (owner Henry Lee wasn't available for comment).

Lucas, 33, has booked shows since he was 16. The Little Rock native owned, for four years, an all-ages club in Fort Smith called Heshers. More recently, he opened a record store, Circa 76, in Little Rock.

He said he's hoping to bring back Vino's “old vibe.”

“I want to get the people in who love going to shows, but haven't been at Vino's. Not so much the 15-20 crowd. More of a college crowd.”

Allen, who called her departure from the club a “mutual separation,” wished Lucas and the club well as they court what she termed a “White Water crowd,” but warns that the road ahead is difficult.

“You can't smoke [in Vino's]. [They] don't have liquor,” Allen said. “A lot of the bands that play at White Water might play Vino's with a show booked at White Water three days later, for less money and where their friends can smoke inside and drink liquor. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle.”

For a more eclectic bill, Lucas is talking to booking agents about everything from soul to jazz to hip-hop. The first show he's booked that he's particularly anticipating is River City Tanlines and Andy War and His Big Damn Mouth on Aug. 15 (coincidentally a bill that recently came to White Water), and he said there's no reason the club can't get Ted Leo or Built to Spill to return to Vino's.

Meanwhile, Allen is reviving her Drastic Measures Productions company and expanding the umbrella. She's planning to book independently, manage and consult bands, make buttons (she has a button company called Rad Buttons), take pictures — just about anything related to local music. She's also working as a talent scout for Erin Hurley, who books Juanita's, and said she's meeting with Blake Sandifer, who owns the Village, soon.

Lucas recently shuttered his Circa 76 location off West Third, but said he'll reopen in late summer in a much-improved space in the lower floor of the Peacock, the pink, stucco apartment building in Capitol View on West Third, just east of the Arkansas School for the Deaf.

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