CLOSING TIME: Doc's Gumbo Grille, the Assembly Street restaurant, is closing at the end of the month. This affects restaurant diners and music fans.
Doug Goolsby, who owns Doc's, told me he was planning to shut down on Oct. 30. He'll cook some delicious dishes (I recommend the tangy and spicy fried shrimp) before Rob Crosby performs the last set at Doc's. It will be a goodbye show - and a benefit.
"I'm sort of in a pickle financially," Goolsby said. "I'm trying to raise some money before I get out."
Doc's, which is across from the State House on Assembly, is at the tip of the Vista where building rent isn't cheap.
"This building is pretty high rent, and business has just been weak for the economy," Goolsby said. "My business has been so weak that it's been a struggle to make the high rent."
The restaurant's prognosis became especially grim when SCANA moved its offices from Main Street to West Columbia a few weeks ago.
"That just made a slow situation slower," said Goolsby who had been borrowing money to stay afloat. "Borrowing more money was a bad situation, and it was time to move on."
Have you ever been to a Thursday night jam at Doc's, where anyone with an instrument can sit in and pick? Goolsby, who has been involved with the music scene since the late '70s, acknowledged the closing of Doc's would be a blow to the music scene.
"It's brought me a lot of joy," Goolsby, the former owner of Greenstreets, a Five Points club, said of the music scene. "But it hasn't brought my bank account rewards."
HURT DEFINITION: What is blaxploitation? The film genre emerged in the '70s with black actors in positions of power and playing lead roles in movies marketed toward black audiences. Movies such as "Shaft," "The Mack," "Black Caesar" and "Super Fly" typified the genre. And "Black Dynamite," which opens nationwide today, might invigorate a genre that stumbled into goofiness before it disappeared.
"It became kind of a caricature of itself," Jay Potts said. "The blaxploitation genre is misunderstood."
Potts should know. He draws and writes "World of Hurt," a Webcomic that pays homage to the '70s action movies. In the episode "The Thrill-Seekers" which debuted in April, the hero, Isaiah "Pastor" Hurt, fixes problems for free. But there's a caveat: You must grant him two favors, no questions asked. (Disclosure: Potts is the fiancee of The State reporter Noelle Phillips.)
Potts' characters, and the comic as a whole, ask a daring question that blaxploitation films initially had to answer: How are we going to present ourselves? The general hue, at least in perception, is that blaxploitation is comedy, a parody of a film genre. For instance, one of the most popular films under the blaxploitation header is "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," a Keenen Ivory Wayans-creation that memorably featured an aging pimp with goldfish in the glass soles of his shoes.
That takes caricature too far.
"It's kind of like making fun of babies taking their first steps," Potts said.
Eddie Murphy's "Harlem Nights" and Denzel Washington's "American Gangster" are recent blaxploitation films more in the mold of the genre's origin. "Black Dynamite" stars Michael Jai White, who plays the title role while fighting The Man.
"It looks like it will play into people's expectations and offer them quality," Potts said. "There's a real fidelity to the era as well."
World of Hurt, though, talks with a straight face. The tone is a return to a time when the words "black" and "exploitation" were first combined. But these characters - and the product - aren't being exploited for laughs.
To read World of Hurt's "The Thrill-Seekers," visit worldofhurtonline.com.
FEATURE LENGTH: "Entourage" completed its season a few weeks ago, but a Columbia rapper has something for the show's fans: a five-album project based on the HBO series.
Amen released the first, "Head On," earlier this summer, and the second, "Queens Boulevard," recently dropped. "Queens Boulevard" contains "What You're Looking For," a song that features Saigon, a rapper who has played himself on "Entourage." The song was picked up by XXLmag.com, a Web site that tracks (typically) good hip-hop leaks.
Amen said he needed a concrete tie-in to the show. (That's beyond the album's executive producer, Johnny Drama.)
"We got in touch with his management," Amen said of Saigon. "He was very receptive to working with us as far as the project goes."
Amen, who once worked with DJ Forge and released records on Dan Johns' label, Magnum Opus, stepped away from rapping for a few years. Talent is easily overshadowed in the music industry because everybody is a rapper or producer these days.
"The music is becoming less and less relevant, and the brand is becoming more relevant," Amen said. "They aren't going to buy your songs; they're going to buy into a brand.
"There's really no point to work on an album these days unless you have some level of notoriety."
"People want to relate to music," Amen added. "It takes something to get somebody's attention."
How many people are obsessed with "Entourage"? Instead of releasing a mixtape based on the show, like Wale's "Seinfeld"-inspired "The Mixtape About Nothing," Amen has crafted story arcs and narratives. He makes albums.
"This is the best music I was capable of making at this time," he said. "There's no cop out. I'm not calling it a mixtape."
Like a mixtape, though, he's giving the albums away for free. He'll release the remaining three albums - "Aqua" is next - in six months.
"At the speed of which I record, there's probably a 60- to 90-day window between albums," Amen said.
To download the music, visit potholesinmyblog.com/exclusive-amen-queens-boulevard-lp/.
NASHVILLE BEAUTY: Chelsea Bush has some decisions to make. She has to figure out how to turn buzz into a career.
The 22-year-old Chapin High School graduate recently was named one of Nashville's most beautiful people by Nashville Lifestyles, a Music City publication.
Her profile shares space with rising country star Luke Bryan and Kerry Collins, the Tennessee Titans quarterback, among others. Bush moved to Nashville four years ago to pursue a singing career. She got her first taste of fame, though, on ABC's "True Beauty," a reality show that turned the tables on the contestants. The 10 people thought they were there to determine who was the hottest, but the judges were looking for inner beauty. The show aired in January.
Now Bush is at a crossroads. Does she go to L.A. to pursue acting and modeling or stay in Nashville and work on her singing?
"You can't do everything at once," Bush said. "I'm sure it would take a lot longer for the singing.
"I want to do it all, and I can only pick one. So I'm trying to decide what I want to go for and do it full force."
Bush says that to make it big in country, you must bring more to the table than great vocals.
"You can't just have a voice in Nashville any more," she said. "Basically, if you want to get anywhere, you have to have the whole package.
"It's a lot harder now."