TEANECK, N.J. -- Teaneck's Mexicali Live is being rebranded as a mostly standing-room music hall -- with some reserved seats -- for local, regional and touring acts, it was announced Wednesday.
The formal grand opening of new owners David and Alberta Gaskill's Debonair Music Hall is scheduled for Sept. 12, with a week of special shows promised to kick off what the Passaic County couple said was the Queen Anne Road venue's "new direction."
“When we purchased Mexicali we saw an incredible venue that had an identity crisis,” said David Gaskill of Bloomingdale. “It was unclear to fans if Mexicali was a music venue or a restaurant.
"By rebranding, we are making a clear statement: We are a destination for great live music unlike any other in the region,” he said.
"We are working hard at getting widely known nationals as well as the up and coming bands," Gaskill told Daily Voice on Wednesday. "We have Firehouse and Helmet lined up for our launch week and have Martin Barre and Melvin Seals on the calendar for later in the year."
He also promised more than a new name and logo.
“[We plan] to paint the interior, upgrade our lighting, and add a 4k camera and a large TV that can stream shows,” Gaskill said.
Tables that had been in front of the stage will become history.
"While we will have some flexibility, most of the seating for our shows will be limited and reserved at time of purchase, with standing-room only shows being more prominent,” Gaskill said.
There will still be food -- a new menu, in fact -- as well as "a beer selection you won't find at any other venue," he said.
Formerly Mexicali Blues, the club hosted primarily local performers but also featured legends (John Mayall, Martin Barre, for instance), along with widely known talents such as Raul Malo, Steve Forbert, Graham Parker, Living Colour, Colin Hay, Glenn Tilbrook, John Waite, Quiet Riot, The Fixx, Pat Travers, the Rubinoos and Mike Doughty.
Gaskill didn't say whether those types of acts would return -- nor whether the familiar "starlight" stage backdrop or ceiling glitter ball would survive.
“We want to make sure that the bands have a great time as well by understanding their needs and ensuring they have everything they need, including for high-energy shows," he said. "Playing for a packed house helps too.”
Opening week artists include Passafire, The Werks, Firehouse and Helmet.
“I wanted to book a lineup of bands that will appeal to many different music lovers and bring people to Teaneck to see amazing acts," Gaskill said. "That week will be a preview of the types of shows we’re committed to featuring for years to come
Tickets for all upcoming shows can be purchased online at www.mexicalilive.com until Sept. 12.
After that, the site will be switched over.
Tickets will be availble at the box office on show nights, generally starting at 6 p.m.
All shows prior to the transition will be branded as Mexicali Live shows. After Sept. 12, they will be branded as Debonair Music Hall.
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