Chuggin’ Monk: Indie Music to Arlington
Arlington is a lot of things: rollercoaster capital of North Texas, home of JerryWorld, chain-restaurant wasteland. What the city has never been is a place for recurring indie-rock shows.
But hold on to your Rangers caps. Into the strip-mall storefront formerly occupied by Rack Daddy’s (2301 N. Collins St.) comes The Chuggin’ Monk, a 7,000-square-foot erstwhile pool hall that co-owners Jason Caswell and Shawn Corley intend to transform into Arlington’s first bona fide indie-rock venue. For the most part, that means no mainstream metal, country, or hip-hop and no cover bands, just intelligent, sharp, melodious rock ’n’ roll, mostly from bands that don’t have major-label backing. “There’s nothing like it out here,” said Corley, a Euless native who worked for Rack Daddy’s for nearly 20 years before taking over the business with Caswell in August. “Indie music is different, more interesting.”
Rack Daddy’s was perfect for realizing Caswell and Corley’s vision. “I just figured being right in the middle of Fort Worth and Dallas, who both have up-and-coming music scenes going off like crazy now, there [needs to be] a premier live music spot in Arlington,” Caswell said, “and maybe it’s a little cheaper to come here and see the same acts” that regularly play Fort Worth and Dallas.
To fill the 500-capacity Monk, Corley and Caswell have hired Ghostlight Concerts (né Blackbox Presents), the Fort Worth booking agency best known for its work with the most musically progressive venue in Tarrant County, Lola’s Saloon. Ghostlight co-founder and co-owner Aaron Knight said don’t expect to see Burning Hotels, The Orbans, Calhoun, Telegraph Canyon, or some other massive local band playing the Monk right off the bat. “We’re not trying to come out gangbusters,” he said. “The first six weeks, we will be experimenting.”
The spacious room sounds good –– that, Corley said, is according to Spoonfed Tribe bassist Jerome 57, who with his side project, 57 Sauce, has played Rack Daddy’s dozens of times over the years. At one end of the room is the stage, which Caswell and Corley will be expanding to 20 by 12 feet, and at the other the bar counter. In between, there’s open seating and some vintage video games on one side and several movable pool tables on the other. Caswell and Corley will be renting Ghostlight’s high-end P.A. system and have landed a veteran soundguy. Pub food (burgers, pizzas, wings, fish ’n’ chips) will be served until 1 a.m. most nights, and the co-owners hope to beef up their ranks, from six employees to about 10. The venue (kitchen included) should be ready to roll in a few weeks, Corley said, with no closures during remodeling.
Parking, he added, should not be an issue. “We’ve had 500 people in here before,” he said, “and there weren’t any [parking] problems.”
Corley doesn’t foresee any other kinds of problems either. “This part of Arlington is actually on the upswing,” he said, noting that some low-income apartments nearby are being razed and that some existing buildings are being spruced up. “It was really bad after [Hurricane] Katrina [in 2005], but that’s pretty much over with.”
Arlington has gone so long –– like, forever –– without anything resembling a genuine indie-rock scene. What makes Caswell, Corley, and Knight think the city needs or even wants one now? “There’s 400,000 people that live here,” Knight said. “There’s got to be a music scene here. They probably just don’t know it yet.”
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