Photo by Mark SavageIt seemed like a great idea at the time: Steve Zepeda, much-admired Long Beach club guy, booking bands into Kozmos, a Sunset Beach bar that has operated under innumerable names during its tenure near the corner of PCH and Warner Avenue (it has been the Lotus Lounge and the 13th Floor, among other incarnations). The move would've marked a comeback of sorts for Zepeda, who has been without a second club since the Foothill in Signal Hill underwent a name and genre change in 2000. (It's now a Latin dance club; Zepeda's main booking gig is still the popular Monday night sets at the Blue Caf.) But after just one weekend, Zepeda announced in a group e-mail that he was severing his ties with Kozmos, citing severe restrictions on the kinds of music he was allowed to book. "[The owner] had been trying to get me to work there for over a year," Zepeda explains. "We started seriously talking about it three months ago. I've always been under the belief that when someone lets me book their club, they let me book their club." But according to Zepeda, that wasn't the case. "The lineups were pretty much what I do at the Blue Caf. But [the owner] had some concerns about certain punk or rockabilly bands, concerns that they wouldn't work here, and she told me not to book them. She felt these bands wouldn't bring people into a bar to drink. I'm a booker—I book music; I also make money for bars, and I believe I do a damn good job. But when people who've been in the music business for a year start telling me how to do my job, I can't have that. I can't book with handcuffs." Zepeda says he tried to work out a compromise with Kozmos owner Pam Morgan, but to no avail. "People are a little jittery because of the economy, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna change the way I book." For her part, Morgan says Zepeda was looking to book far more rockabilly shows than she was interested in. "I like a variety of music, from rockabilly clear up to punk, but Mr. Zepeda told me he has a certain style, which was rockabilly, and that he didn't feel like changing," she says. "I know what pays the bills, I know what works, and I wanted a wider variety than what he was willing to give me. I didn't want it to be the Blue Caf or the Foothill, so we just decided we had to part ways. I have no hard feelings." Zepeda, meanwhile, says he's on the lookout for another room.
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