Back Alley Echo
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Back Alley Echo

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"The ladies love air guitar."

Cheyenne Saloon Battle of the Bands Finals:

Genocide Architect, Subtsance, Itcy Choad, O Empire, Back Alley Echo, Children of Hat Tilton, Altarevere

Jan. 23, 7p. $5. Cheyenne Saloon
- Las Vegas City Life


"THE ALLEY: A place to rock out"


[image]
T.J. Hoops, guitarist for Back Alley Echo, shows off some tricks on his guitar at a concert held on Jan. 24 at the Alley Theater, located in Discovery Church at 4310 Losee Road.Special to View


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By AMANDA LLEWELLYN
VIEW STAFF WRITER



Special to ViewAlley Theater owner Anthony M. Valentino watches teens as they listen to the sounds of bands at a concert held on Jan. 24 at the all-ages venue at 4310 Losee Road.



In its more than two years of transient existence, the Alley Theater has been shut down, put out of business and thought to have gone the way of so many all-age Las Vegas music venues that came before it. But after reopening inside of a North Las Vegas church late last year, owner Anthony M. Valentino believes the venue may have finally found a permanent home.

The theater, which serves as one of the valley's few remaining young adult concert venues, is located inside of Discovery Church at 4310 Losee Road.

Valentino, 25, is a self-proclaimed go-getter who said he doesn't know how to take no for an answer, which is why the venue can't fail.

While he moonlights as the lead singer of local rock band A Penny for Jane, Valentino also holds down two full-time jobs and is the father of three young girls.

"I'm not killing myself for nothing," he said. "This is a worthwhile effort. Like with anything that I do, I'm throwing myself into it."

The theater was housed in the back of Family Music Center at Unity Church of Las Vegas, 8125 W. Sahara Ave. in Summerlin, for almost a year, where teacher Dan Maltzman attempted to gather the correct licensing documents and open on three separate occasions.

County officials shut the establishment down for not having specific documents, including a teen dance hall license.

Maltzman was never told he needed one, according to Valentino.

Valentino said that the county's code stipulates no teen dance hall can operate within 1,500 feet of where any alcoholic beverage is served.

"That's from where the crows fly," he said. "That can mean a 7-Eleven or a Cheng's Chinese food. It doesn't have to be a bar."

Living in Las Vegas, opening an establishment with that type of stipulation is impossible, according to Valentino.

"The last time was the final straw for him," he said. "He had given up."

That was early 2007. Then, Valentino came into the picture and somehow revitalized Maltzman's dream.

"I told him that we couldn't give up," he said. "Whatever it takes. Where there's a will, there's a way."

Valentino said North Las Vegas doesn't regulate church youth concerts. Valentino said that after doing a lot of research, he discovered the loophole and called city officials to get their perspectives on opening the venue.

"They were all for it," he said. "There's a separation of church and state. We didn't have to get permits or anything. Besides, this is a positive, no violence activity for young people. The city was completely on board."

The venue, which is set up in the rectory's main hall, holds approximately 390 people.

Since the opening almost two months ago, Valentino said that the number of kids attending the concerts has stayed around 220.

"I think once word gets out that we're here, we're really going to see that number increase," he said.

Bands are booked to play the hall through March, and more are clamoring to join the roster, Valentino said.

"A lot of people thought this wouldn't happen," he said. "But, this is a cool place, and I think, literally, the last one of its kind left in the valley."

Shows begin at 6 p.m. each Saturday. Valentino said that he plans to expand show schedules to include Friday nights beginning in early March.

Church pastor Dean Sanner said that Valentino approached him with the idea of opening a teen concert venue inside the facility last fall, and he immediately warmed to the idea.

"As long as we can do it, we will do it," Sanner said. "I want to do good stuff for the community, and now this has become one of our things. It's something for young people, and only good can come from that."

The church takes 25 percent of the proceeds generated for ticket sales, according to Valentino, but only to cover cleaning and additional upkeep costs.

Bands who play the Alley are given free water and pizza, a personal assistant and a guest list. This stems from Valentino's experience with the Las Vegas music scene, where he said that local musicians are treated like dirt and told that they should be grateful just to have an opportunity to play.

"I want everyone who plays here to feel like a rock star," he said. "They may be someday. So we treat them like they are."

The venue features bands from every genre imaginable, with the exception of screamo. But, even in the case of screaming emo bands, those with real heart might have a chance.

"Those who are willing to tell their fans to behave and keep it low-key, I might change my mind," Valentino said. "I know all these young bands need a place to play. I feel them. I'm a musician."

A number of venues in the city have attempted to maintain an all ages concert venue, with little success. Jillian's, which was located at Neonopolis, 450 Fremont St. in downtown Las Vegas, and closed late last year, was one of the most successful.

Valentino said that the smaller, struggling venues often have trouble funding their operations and close because overhead costs become too high.

"I think it's just hard in this town," Valentino said. "This is a town made for adult activities, and it's tough to get people behind this kind of project. But something like this is definitely needed."

While he said that he realizes the road to ultimate success will be long and hard-fought, Valentino isn't setting his sights low. Eventually, he hopes to open a similar venue in all 50 states.

"We're moving some mountains right now," Valentino said. "We're going to be successful. We're going to make this happen."

Contact North Las Vegas and Downtown View reporter Amanda Llewellyn at allewellyn@viewnews.com or 380-4535. - View News (published in North Town News Papers)


Discography

POP EP - Released July 2008
listen/download for free @ www.lasvegasweekly.com/bands/back-alley-echo/

Mustache Man - Unreleased listen for free @ www.myspace.com/backalleyecho

Photos

Bio

[[YOU CAN LISTEN TO OUR STUDIO TRACKS FOR FREE @ WWW.MYSPACE.COM/BACKALLEYECHO]] (much better quality than the track on the page) we are based off the 3rd wave of the musical genre known as ska, we have played multiple places around the valley, some all ages, bars, acoustic festivals, etc. we have been together for a little bit over a year and where always ready to make you dance!!