Day Of Daze Band Leader Dazed By Complaining Neighbor
Column By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Manhattan Beach Blogger
Jim Wheeler, one of the top musicians ever to play in the South Bay, is on the sidelines, having to leave his saxophone in its case and hold a sound meter in his hand. Rather than being on stage entertaining people the way he has done for decades, he now goes around the bar and into the neighborhood checking noise levels.
It is a crime because such a talented musician is not allowed to play due to one neighbor – a single person – who has been making continual noise complaints about the bar to the city. Instead of leaning back and ripping out solos that make chills run down your spine it’s so good, Wheeler is reduced to being the equivalent of the backup quarterback in football, the guy with the clipboard and headset who has no chance of getting into the game.
It is also a crime that only three band members are allowed on stage at one time (thereby forcing Wheeler to the sidelines) and that the drummer must now play in a glass-enclosed “cage.” Pancho’s has for years attracted some of the greatest musicians in Los Angeles to play in the Day of Daze band, a collection of people who have toured with legendary rock bands, including Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Styx and even Alice Cooper.
Wheeler himself has toured with Kenny Loggins.
Now, those musicians must adhere to sounds levels that’s like having them on mute. And being able to have just three members on stage at one time is like watching them perform with one hand tied behind their backs.
And instead of riding to the rescue of Pancho’s and the many patrons who go there and spend money in the establishment specifically to hear these musicians, the city of Manhattan Beach is siding with that one resident.
It is enforcing a decades-old Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from the Pancho’s owner, back when the band at the time had only three people in it. It is also making Pancho’s adhere to a strict 50 decibels in a commercial zone and 40 in a residential zone. This is why Wheeler is carrying around a sound meter instead of his saxophone.
I walked outside with Wheeler on a Friday night, down the alley and to the complaining resident’s house, which is just west of the restaurant’s parking lot. And let me say, one would need to put a stethoscope up to the wall of Pancho’s to hear any noise coming from the place.
But apparently, when the neighbor opens his doors and goes onto his balcony, the noise is enough to cause him to call and complain. This guy must have the hearing ability of a dog.
As a result, it is quite possible that we are witnessing the sad end of a long “career” of great live music at Panchos. This goes back to Chuck Shumacker’s band, the late and great Carey Carloff, Little Jimmy and Day of Daze.
Yes, it’s a sad but potential reality that a noice complaint may signal the end of the music at Pancho’s in Manhattan Beach.
And that, folks, is a real crime.