When the barkeeps announce last call at the next edition of Ronnie Mack's Barndance, it'll sound the death knell for an extraordinary musical showcase that has been a backbone of the Los Angeles country scene for the past 25 years.
What began in 1988 as a low-key weekly shindig at North Hollywood honky-tonk the Little Nashville quickly roared into life as a resume-must for both local and touring performers, and has attracted such guest performers as Bruce Springsteen and Screamin' Jay Hawkins.
But with the next Barndance on Jan. 7, Mack is calling it quits, and his departure is going to leave a significant void in our musical culture.
For decades, the offer to appear on one of Mack's Barndances signaled a rite of passage for Southern California musicians, one that afforded an aura of down-home prestige. For fans, it was a delightful, de rigeur good time that always combined social merrymaking with plenty of first-rate music. Featuring a stellar house band and half a dozen guest acts on each edition, Mack's kaleidoscopic variety format and wide-open booking policy ensured a great evening.