Starlight: Getting Bright

Feb 092005
Authors: Dominic Graziano


Friday — 8 p.m. Immortal Dominion

Saturday — 9 p.m. Steerjockey

Sunday — 8 p.m. Guttermouth

Tuesday — 9 p.m. Chip's Old Skool Sk8 Video Night

Feb 18 — 9 p.m. A Void and Action Shot

Despite going through three owners in eight months, the Starlight Theatre remains alive.

In late December, after being closed since Nov. 22, Joe Vader and Dan Kerig took the Starlight, 167 N. College Ave., under their wing.

Vader and Kerig have owned Lucky Joes, 125 Old Town Square, and Zydecos, 11 Old Town Square, for more than four years.

Vader said his decision to buy the Starlight was based on the fact that the venue's employees would be without a job.

"I didn't like the situation with the bartenders not having a job. Just because of a few missteps by owners, they don't deserve to be out on the street," Vader said.

Both Vader and new General Manager Kevin Kirchner said they plan to make the venue more appealing.

"We want to make more of a 'lounge' area, instead of just a bar. And we also plan to update the sound system to make it more state-of-the-art," Kirchner said.

Vader also said he would like to see the same variety of music the Starlight has been known for to continue.

"I don't want to just showcase one type of music," Vader said.

The venue started the year off with a concert featuring local band Drag The River on New Year's Eve.

Joe Snodgrass, singer and guitarist of Drag The River, said the Starlight is one of his favorite places to play a concert.

"We play all over the country and I'm not lying when I say it's about the best … seriously," Snodgrass wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.

"For what little promotion there was, (the show) turned out well," Vader said.

Around 200 people came to the show, Kirchner said.

"Earlier that day we got the four pages of health-inspection updates up to code, just in time for the show," Kirchner said.

The violations included minor repairs of coolers, lighting and bathroom fixtures.

Both Kirchner and Vader mentioned changing some of the other aesthetics of the venue, including the bar tops and bar stools.

Kirchner said one change will not be visible in the venue's look: The biggest transition will be from the two previous owners and their alleged sexual assault and drug abuse charges.

Eric Rabinowitz owned the Starlight for more than a year until Aug. 2, 2004.

On June 11 Rabinowitz was accused of sexually assaulting a female friend. He is being charged with one count of sexual assault and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, according to court records. His trial is scheduled for May 2.

Rabinowitz sold the Starlight to Melissa Laugen and James Sargent. Laugen was the official owner and Sargent was her general manager.

According to court records, on the night of Nov. 5 police were called to the Starlight to check on possible noise and alcohol violations, and later that night they were called back when Sargent overdosed on unspecified drugs.

Later that month, Laugen was served with a suspension of sales because of this and other incidents.

Nate Clark, who has been working the sound booth for the Starlight for more than three years, worked for Laugen and Sargent.

"We had our great times, and our not-so-great times," Clark said. He would not comment further about the issue.

Kirchner said that Laugen and Sargent did not do all the duties that an owner and general manager should do.

"The previous owners slacked off, but we are finally taking a step in the right direction," Kirchner said. "But things are definitely going to change for the better."



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