Santa Monica nightclub At My Place is scheduled to close following a New Year’s Eve performance by Michael Ruff, continuing a trend that has seen the recent shuttering of such local niteries as Trancas, Gazzarri’s and Vertigo.
On Dec. 30, the club will be devoted to a party featuring its musical alumni, tentatively including Ruff, Carl Anderson, Harold Payne, Billy Vera and Big Daddy.
That show, scheduled before the club’s closing, was originally planned as a commemoration of club booking agent Matt Kramer’s remarkable 22-year career behind the scenes in two of Los Angeles’s most important concert venues.
Though the At My Place closing announcement followed Kramer’s departure by several weeks, the two events can hardly be coincidental: At My Place owner Jim Arthur reportedly was unable to find a satisfactory successor to Kramer, who had booked the Santa Monica room from its first day 11 years ago.
Joining the staff of Doug Weston’s Troubadour in 1970, Kramer worked lights and sound for two years. When singer-guitarist Rick Cunha, who had been running the club’s weekly “hoot” nights, left to promote his album, Kramer took over his duties, featuring a dozen or so acts each Monday.
It was under Kramer that bandleader Vera began a one-year series of sold-out 1980 post-midnight shows that soon became a local legend.
Calling the Troubadour his “Monday night hobby,” Kramer spent the rest of the week in pursuits ranging from promoting concerts at the Fox Venice Theater to driving a truck. “I’d park in front of the Troubadour Monday nights,” he recalled recently, “and then, right after the show, drive up to Sacramento and make deliveries.”
Enter Jim Arthur, a T-shirt mogul with money to burn. Arthur and Kramer built their music showcase on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica, opening it in 1981.
“While staying away from heavy metal or Vegas or top-40,” Kramer says, “we always booked the best of what was available. The mix consisted of about 10% contemporary jazz, 30% pop, 30% rhythm and blues, and we spread the rest around.”
At My Place principals and supporters are trying to find someone who will maintain the facility as a nightclub.
Kramer, meanwhile, has embarked on a full-time career in management, with clients including Richard Elliott (“the Van Halen of the saxophone,” whose success has spread from Malaysia to Japan and Germany), Anglo-Thai country-rock band Soy Cowboy and singer Renee Armand.