Ever since that Jerry Garcia piñata was demolished on the opening night of Sabala's Mt. Tabor in 2004, it's all been downhill for the property at 4811 SE Hawthorne. Granted, Sabala's reign was one of some pretty stellar dirty punk shows, but the final year or so found the venue languishing with internal woes and diminished attendance. The venue, formerly known as hippie haven Mt. Tabor Theatre, has recently switched hands again, this time to new owner Dawning McGinnis, who has renamed the space Mt. Tabor Legacy. Booker Gabe Lageson—known more for his skills onstage with Nice Boys than his work offstage—took some time to talk about the transition and the venue's new direction.
How did the change of ownership at Mt. Tabor, from Sabala's to Legacy, come about?
Nothing too unusual with the transition, Jason [Sabala] wanted to sell, Dawning was looking to buy a club, and so it just worked out. It's been great that she has kept some of the employees from Sabala's and wasn't trying to completely change the atmosphere of the venue. Jason is doing really well these days too, and has come in several times to see shows and hang out and is really happy with the changes that have taken place in here.
Compared to the previous incarnations, how will Legacy be different? I have noticed that the opening week's lineups are far more diverse than they have been in the past, is this something you are deliberately trying to achieve?
Sabala had a specific vision in mind for the types of shows and the particular types of people he wanted in the theater, it was the most fun place to go see punk shows in the Southeast. That isn't really going to change now, or at least we hope not, but Portland has such a diverse and rich music scene that we wanted everyone to feel welcome. As bookers, we like Sunn O))) as much as the Monkees, or the Redwalls. So having tastes across the board, we figure that other people into music in this town probably feel the same way.
As someone who has spent so much time on the road in bands, how do you feel the venue stacks up to other clubs you've played in the past?
It's just really cool to play a place that is on par with a lot of bigger, more corporate venues, but without the indifferent staff and sterile surroundings. Everyone is down to earth and it feels like a house party, but with all the amenities of any other mid-sized venue.