I had a moment a couple weeks ago, standing on that deck in the northeast corner of Lola’s Trailer Park, when I concluded that Fort Worth is a lot less fun than it used to be. The Quaker City Night Hawks had just finished their show, and I was drunk and stoned and maudlin to the point that I resigned to let my bad feels fly however they would. As I stood there gazing around, a drunk friend of mine was telling me about his impending move to San Francisco, and what I said in reply was, “Man, good for you. Get out of here. This city sucks now.”
Looking back, I don’t totally mean that. But I sure did at the time. What had preceded that moment was me looking around idly at the expanse of the Trailer Park, at the roof that extended over its grounds from the stage to the bar, and at all the people still milling around having a good time. My mind wandered further back, into the Saloon, drifting like a ghost past the painting of Willie Nelson and the one of Rougie punching Jose Bautista, drifting across past the history and memories soaked into the building’s wood and tin and sheetrock, all the bands I’d seen and played in there, the smell of the stage, the ritual back-stretches before squat-lifting a bass cab into the stage-right door, Lone Star bottles and plastic shot cups rolling around between the footlights and my pedalboard, and a thousand other memories that threatened to overwhelm my composure. I thought of all of that, and I just got bummed. “This place, this city,” I said a few minutes later to a different friend, having moved from the deck to be nearer to the main bar. “In any other city in America, this venue would be like a, like, a treasure. An institution. They wouldn’t have to move. This place shouldn’t have to become apartments or whatever the fuck.”
At this point, the crowd had mostly moved out, and as the night drew to a close and I found myself inside the Saloon with a few friends, I repeated my epiphany a third time, and we all agreed that Lola’s impending move to Berry Street is the end to an era, one that for us — and by “us,” I mean local musicians who got into the scene in the early-to-late 2000s — actually began on Berry, specifically at a few bars and clubs that also no longer exist. And when I thought about that, I notified the irrigation department in my brain, telling it to hold the tears, because we’ve been through this before.
In fact, Lola’s owes its existence to the end of a previous era, as it opened in the wake of Brian Forella’s previous venue, the Wreck Room, crumbling beneath the iron inevitability of a developer’s wrecking ball. The two venues were similar in spirit but different in size, shape, and scope. What provided continuity between Lola’s and her predecessor — as well as the eras they represent in the memories of the people who lived in them — were the music and the people who lived for it. And as Lola’s moves to the TCU area, I look forward to seeing those two elements link this city’s next era with the one that began 15 years ago, because what made this city fun for me over the past 20 years is the music and the people who live for it. Sure, it’s no longer cheap to live here, and, yeah, it’s pretty uninspiring to see yet another apartment complex going up, but local music is a huge part of Fort Worth’s culture. And as long as there are places for bands to play, this city will still have a soul. — Steve Steward
Contact HearSay at Anthony@FWWeekly.com.