If your local band is looking for more gigs, Chapel Hill's two-decade-old Local 506 might soon be your land of opportunity. After an eight-month search for the right buyer, longtime owner Glenn Boothe recently completed the rock club's sale to Chapel Hill couple Kippy and Tom Perkins, who hope to keep the bar open every night. To do that, they say they'll boost the number of area acts playing the shotgun space.
"Our plan is to stay open more and always have some type of live music," says Kippy Perkins, who moved to Chapel Hill from Austin, Texas, two decades ago. "We're going to try to get more Triangle musicians back in there."
Perkins will try to complete one of Boothe's long-term aims for Local 506: to make the small front room more inviting and open. The space will host small shows and be an active bar that sweeps in foot traffic even when there's not a concert in the large back room.
She hopes to move the bar, increase its selection, renovate the space's small single-door entryway and blacked-out windows and perhaps even turn the upstairs green room into a space suitable for intimate acoustic sets. Meanwhile, the main room will remain largely unchanged, Perkins says, aside from some fresh paint and an augmented sound system.
Under Boothe's leadership, Local 506 has earned a strong reputation as a stop for mid-sized touring bands, and Perkins isn't compelled to tamper much with the part of the club that's generally worked.
"People we've talked to love it the way it is," she says. "Glenn's done a great job keeping progressive, independent, quality bands coming through here. That's what we hope to continue."
Aside from a stint working promotions for Wilmington label Winoca Records and booking the pop-rock group Onward, Soldiers, Perkins, 51, mostly comes to the music business as a fan. During Boothe's final weeks at Local 506, she learned about club maintenance and the language of booking bands by shadowing Boothe on the job. She'll have help: Though Perkins will book the space, she recruited Todd Dawson, a former club owner in Dallas, to move north and manage the club. Sarah Schmader, a recent college graduate, will assist with promotion and in recruiting the necessary area acts.
"There are four of us doing what Glenn was doing," says Perkins, laughing, "and I'm still struggling."
Perkins' team, Boothe says, will be pivotal in making improvements to the club that he simply didn't have the personnel to enact. Boothe announced the sale in August, citing work overload and the responsibility of raising his four-year-old son, Walter, as the primary reasons for his departure. Only two months earlier, Rusty Sutton, the club's longtime manager, moved to Asheville, where he now splits his time between touring with bands and working at area venues. The bulk of the club's day-to-day tasks, from plumbing repairs to promotional organization, fell back to Boothe.
When Kippy and Tom Perkins first approached him with an offer, they envisioned a partnership; he'd use his relationships and experience to continue booking the club, while they would handle the daily duties of running the space and the shows. He toyed with the idea, but the continual work convinced him a clean break was needed. Instead, he's taken an administrative position at the Cat's Cradle, helping to manage the venue's shows around the Triangle rather than book them.
"One of the things I always maintained was that I was running the club at 75 percent. It has much more potential, and that frustrated me personally and for the club," says Boothe. "They have the resources to make some changes. Local 506 has a new life."
This article appeared in print with the headline "Local-er 506."