Friday, November 22, 2013

Summer 2013 Strictly Tabu Reunion

Several of the "family" reunited at Bobby Bellamy's splendid home in Dallas this past summer for a grand reunion. Most of us hadn't seen each other in a very long time. A splendid and warm time was had by all. See if you can recognize who we are. It's easy to recognize the seemingly eternally youthful Bobby Bellamy. You can spot sweet Lu Smith, a smiling Cyndee Cashman, Dick Hyman with his camera, Stephen Davis (who was the inspiration for the gathering), Lawrence and Cindy Jackson (star patrons and important family members), Tom Garrison (maybe still wearing the same hat he wore in the 70s), Kirk, the piano man, Hampton, and Scotty Miller--our troubadour, and Mikki (Davis) Jensen, one of the best of us all. Oh, and Kim Z. is in there somewhere as obnoxious as ever.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lots of Strictly Tabu-ites on Facebook

If you're into Facebook, you will find lots of the Tabu family there, including Kirk Hampton, Mikki Jensen (Davis), Steve Davis, Bob Davis, Carolyn Carroll (Meese), Bobby Bellamy, Lawrence and Cindy Jackson, Scotty Miller, Cathy Clifton (Dick Hyman's better half), Cyndee Cashman, Pat Coil, Jerri Lilly, and lots more.

Friday, July 1, 2011


D - Magazine Blurbs

Strictly TaBu. A recent return to TaBu confirms our faith in one of Dallas' best jazz bars, not just for the jazz (which is frequently excellent) but for the easy, unpretentious atmosphere. We like the dining area in the back, where very good pizza and pasta are served. This is the perfect place for a late-night rendezvous with an intimate admirer or an old friend. (4111 Lomo Alto. 528-5200 Live music nightly. Sun-Thur 6 pm-1 am. Fri & Sat 6 pm-1:30 am. All credit cards.)

August 1984 ~~~ MusicGood Vibes at Strictly TabuEd Hagan plays jazz on the vibraphone at Strictly Tabu on Lomo Alto, a club that's apparently trying to look like a bop joint of the Forties or Fifties. The type of jazz Hagan plays was hot in those decades, but it's still good music and it'll be good music when we're dead and gone.Hagan was born in Greenville and his musical involvement began at age seven, when he was given a saxophone. He didn't like sax and soon put it down in favor of percussion instruments like drums, bells, and the glockenspiel. His talent was apparent and at 13 he received a band scholarship to an area prep school. Soon, he was playing with the SMU Dance Band. They played college jobs but just as frequently worked places on the East Texas oil fields. These were tough gigs, Hagan recalls; in one place chicken wire was strung in front of the bandstand to protect the musicians when the clientele started throwing things.He went to college at SMU and after graduation, landed the staff percussion job at WFAA. This was before television, and the radio station maintained a "live" staff of about 20 people."They had a wake-up show," says Hagan. "I had to get to the bandstand at seven in the morning, and while I'm working this I was also working at the Century Room (at the Adolphus Hotel). I was working both a lunch and a dinner show, so I'd get done at like 2:00 a.m., and I was drinkin' about a fifth of booze a day. The Mexican cigarette habit so prevalent these days, it was happenin' then but it was restricted mostly to musicians and night people. Any way, I had a little trouble getting to work in the morning."Eventually it got to be too much trouble, and Hagan bailed out. He took the woman to whom he was then married, their three-year-old daughter, and went to New York "to see the big fellers play." There he met big band leaders like Tommy Dorsey ("Tommy was a mean son of a bitch," says Hagan, referring to Dorsey's reputation as a disciplinarian). He ended up playing in the Arcadia Ballroom with Benny Goodman on a bill that included Henny Youngman and a young singer named Frank Sinatra. Hagan has no Sinatra stories - they were playing five shows a day and had little time to socialize.New York was a music mecca then, and 52nd Street was solid with jazz joints. Count Basie and Duke Ellington gigged there frequently, and both Red Norvo and Eddie Condon were regulars. It was a good scene, a scene that contributed mightily to contemporary American culture, and Hagan remembers it with some amusement."Bennies were legal then," he told me. "A lot of guys I knew got burned out on 'em. I see an upper now, I panic, I don't want no part of 'em. But the year I worked the Arcadia, we'd get off work in the middle of the night, go to the Charles Tavern and have a couple beers, pop a couple pills, and then go down 52nd and dig jazz all night long."The bands at the Arcadia were often impeccable. Many of the musicians were members of big-time orchestras who were staying in New York only because of a shaky draft status. (What band leader would go out on the road with, say, a tenorman who was liable to be inducted right before an important gig?)The Army Air Corps got Hagan, and playing in the Air Corps band helped him endure the service. When he was discharged he came to Dallas. He had planned a quick return to New York.Instead, he joined the Dallas Symphony. Antal Dorati was conducting then, and needed someone to play the triangle and Castanet part in Aaron Copland's El Salon Mexico. "They were having trouble with their imported genius from Julliard, he lost his nerve," declares Hagan, who a-dapted easily to the Symphony and stayed with it for five years. Dorati is the man who put the Dallas Symphony into a position of prominence, and Hagan obviously respects him. He is less fond of a later conductor, Walter Hendel. The two had similar drinking habits and clashed on that level, so Hagan quit the Symphony.He wasn't idle for long, though. There was an ice show headed toward Dallas from San Francisco, and they were having drummer trouble. Soon Hagan was on the road with Sonja Henie.Her films are virtually forgotten now, and though she made 11, most are not even mentioned in books about cinema. Henie was a tremendous box office attraction at one time, though, and she owed it all to her talent on ice skates.Henie was from Norway, and was 13 when she won the 1927 Olympic Skating Competition. In 1936 she retired from competition and began skating as a professional. In the same year she signed with Twentieth Century Fox and did One in a Million, cinema's first skating movie. All of her films look pretty silly now, and no one has ever seriously suggested that she could act, but the depth of her athletic talents and her dimples was tremendous, and she was loved. Her traveling ice shows were pretty elaborate productions."There's a saying about Sinatra," Hagan says, "that he's just like every other American boy who makes a million bucks a year. Sonja was the same way. When she first got Olga-type famous, she was only like 12 . . . so after she won Olympics and world championships for ten years, she was a legitimate star, and hard to get along with. I got along with her fine on drums, like I could do no wrong with the drums. But if she was gonna break wind you had to know it in time to give her a cymbal crash!"Henie valued Hagan as a drummer, and made it known that she didn't want him pestered. Once, a new conductor found Hagan in his dressing room with a jug of Early Times, part of the essential equipment he carried to his drum stand. When the conductor asked Hagan what he was doing with the booze, Hagan patiently said that he was "drinking it." This logical response annoyed the conductor, who complained to Henie. She promptly fired the conductor for his trouble.Things weren't so cozy when Hagan became conductor. Henie tampered with arrangements, and relentlessly over-rehearsed unimportant parts of them. And although she could still pack 30,000 people into an arena, she was over-estimating her drawing power. A show called Hollywood on Ice was big enough to rival Sonja's. She insisted on booking her own into Annapolis on the same night as the rival's, as sort of a showdown. It takes little show-business acumen to know that this was a bad move, and both shows took a financial fall.In Washington D.C., the halls were controlled by former associates of Sonja's, people with whom her relationship had ended badly. "They're gonna do bad things to you," Henie's people told her, but she wouldn't budge. Just before showtime, fire regulations appeared from nowhere, and the $ 15 box seat customers were forced to move back so far that Hagan could barely see them.Hagan was with Henie for five years (two as a drummer, three as conductor), and during that time toured both Europe and South America. A rest was in order, so he took his new wife, who'd been a skater with the Henie show, and went to the Virgin Islands with a six-month vacation in mind. He was there for 19 years.He played marimbas briefly with an island trio, but was otherwise musically inactive. He channeled his energy into running a couple of restaurants, and racing his Jaguar around on the runway of the island's airport.Hagan's been back in Dallas for four years, three of which he spent "in the closet" practicing on the vibraphone, a percussion instrument that came into existence in the mid-Thirties, and into prominence through the efforts of Lionel Hampton, who (like Hagan) was also a drummer. It's not an easy instrument to master.A night at Strictly Tabu makes it plain that Hagan has mastered it, because he and his band create an unusually enjoyable musical experience. On vibes, Hagan exhibits taste, speed, and the type of cool vehemence seen only in musical pros. He is individualistic on the instrument, and states that one of the few musicians who actually influenced him was pioneer vibist Red Morvo.Hagan may use any of several sidemen on a given night, and though some are better than others, all are good. The best is probably John Perkins, who plays some of the tastiest guitar I've ever heard. He can play quick, surgically clean lead riffs, he can play Wes Montgomery-style octave licks, and he can play vast handfuls of intricate chords. He looks like a pawnbroker but he plays like a saint.There is no real point in writing more about Ed Hagan. You'd know a lot more if you went and heard him play. There is really no justification for not doing so.- Tim Schuller, July, 1977 ~~ 100 Watering Holes [15]

Strictly Tabu. The Tabu has an easy, no-problem intimacy that can only happen with time and the right crowd (the kind of atmosphere that new bars spend big bucks trying to buy, only to discover that they've wasted their time). You'll find the best pizza in town here, although the other food entries are only occasionally noteworthy and the drinks are average. Sometimes the music (jazz) gets in the way, depending on who is playing. 4111 Lomo Alto.

December, 1981 ~~ DivingWe asked our readers for the names of their favorite dives-north, south, east and west- but we really didn't receive many nominations for establishments that meet the criteria set by one veteran diver on our staff. By his standards, a dive should display obvious, but not obnoxious, filth. Along with superior food and cold beer, the dive should offer an element of danger, such as a particularly grizzly waitress or an imposing bouncer.The winners in the north were Roscoe White's Easy Way Barbecue, Dalt's and Memphis. In East Dallas, Lakewood Yacht Club took first place and Greenville Avenue Bar and Grill and Snuffer's took second and third places, respectively. In West Dallas, first place is shared by four havens: Strictly TaBu, Club Schmitz, The Mecca and Sonny Bry-ans. The South's best? Gennie's Bishop Grill.

September, 1983. ~~~ PIZZABEST: Strictly Tabu on Lomo Alto. The Italian sausage entry, with the Tabu-traditional ton and a half of cheese, may be the top bas-cuisine item in town. WORST: Pizza Inn. One of our reviewers calls it "outstandingly putrid."

January, 1982 ~~~ Entertainment Late Date Another favorite haunt is Dallas' most venerable jazz club, Strictly Tabu (4111 Lomo Alto, 522-8101), which has been around since the early Fifties and has the funk to prove it. Naturally, my late date and I gravitate to the restaurant area in the back, where we can eat pizza and salads (until 1 a.m. Fridays, midnight Saturdays and Sundays), talk comfortably and still enjoy the music.

October, 1982 ~~~ The Best Junk Food PIZZAJoe Campisi first heard the word "pizza" in 1943 at Coney Island: Somebody offered him a slice, and he wouldn't eat it. Then, when he realized this was the same ciavata that his Sicilian mother cooked every Friday back in Dallas, with the addition of tomato sauce, he went into the pizza business. He used his mother's formula for Italian bread dough, his sister made up the sauce and he opened shop at Knox and McKinney in 1945.Five years later, he moved into the Egyptian Lounge, a beer joint at 5610 E. Mockingbird-and he's still there, still making the same pizza.We found most top-rated pizzas in Dallas to be a loose collection of good ingredients on a crust. Campisi's combination pizza is sublimely orchestrated, with all the individual components blending together in a deep-dish rhapsody. The super-thin crust attracts no attention to itself; it's only a vehicle for getting the filling from your plate to your mouth.We found a close second to Campisi's at Strictly Tabu, 4111 Lomo Alto. Al's Pizzeria, 159 Walnut Hill Village, also deserves mention. August, 1982 ~~~ Strictly Tabu Club Sunday Jazz Concert features Gnu Jazz, lead soloists from the Dallas Jazz Orchestra, August 15, 6-9 p.m. 4111 Lomo Alto/526-9325 August, 1986 ~~~

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ed Hagen & Friends

Jim Young and I booked Ed Hagan and Friends for one month in April or May of 1976. Ed's day gig was cooking lunches at The Grape. I can't remember when they stopped playing Thursdays through Saturdays and most Sundays, but it must have been for the next four years or so when Pat Coil's Recoil started playing weekends. We didn't charge a cover for years. And Ed continued playing regularly until I sold my part of the club to the other partners.
Shown above are Cody Sanderfer (drums), John Perkins (guitar), Ed Hagen (vibes and marimba), and Alex (bass; sorry I can't remember last name here but I will). Thanks to Jim Atkinson for reminding me that Alex's last name was Kemp. I bet you still might find him at the Stoneleight P. reading a magazine and eating lentil soup.
Ed had lots of friends: Steve Sunday (piano), Pee Wee Herman (piano), Lee Robinson (guitar), Genie Grant (female jazz singer extraordinaire), Jimmie "J.Z " Zitano (drums), Mimmie McShane (DSO cello) and almost every musician in town who could drop by for the last set to sit in. The photo was taken by Dick Hyman, a steadfast regular, one of my best friends until this day, and, as you can see, a great photographer.
More soon....

The Crew circa Christmas, 1980

Are you here? Tell us who you are? I remember Mickie Davis, Kirk Hampton, Carolyn Meese, Ruth (can't remember last name), Jan Hardesty, Rick Henderson, Jeannie Bartlett (Smith), Cindy and Dan, Rick Garrison, Jerri Lilly.

Easter Weekend 4/18/76

We opened up the jazz room on Easter Weekend, 1976--literally. Jim Young and I took down the wall between the bar and what had been a beauty parlor in the space that became the space where countless jazz musicians brought the best music to Dallas County. With sledge hammers and saber saws we took out the sheetrock and put up the wrought iron rails that we lined on the upper level with small tables for two. I loved those tables--loved leaning on those rails and watching the bands. Covered in dust, Jim and I carted out the broken sheetrock to the dump. mixed the mud for patching the ceiling, put up 1x4 around the old studs to make posts for the rails, and I'm remembering that the very next weekend we booked Ed Hagen who went on to be our house band for the next five years. It was on that weekend that we began stamping our identities on an old bar that had been built in 1947 and named Tabu.


If you played at Strictly Tabu at any time, please post a comment. If you remember artists who performed, would you also please post a comment. Especially if you played during my years there (1976-1984).

Purpose of the Blog

I am attempting to gather as much information about Strictly Tabu as possible. Much I remember; much I don't. It's a wonder I remember much at all. Strictly Tabu was, indeed, an anachronisticly remarkable place--a funky jazz joint just barely inside the latently "gated" Highland Park.