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Tribune Online News Story

Story run date: Wednesday March 5, 1997

Deputies seize band's gear after nightclub performance

of the Tribune's staff

A night of rockabilly music at a downtown nightclub ended in a dramatic encore that drew no applause.

After the Reverend Horton Heat wrapped up a performance at the Blue Note early this morning, a band of sheriff's deputies went onstage and surrounded the group's equipment before a crowd of some 700.

Acting on a court order from a North Carolina judge, deputies seized instruments, amplifiers and other equipment to settle a judgment totaling $30,278 in a breach of contract suit filed by The Mad Monk nightclub in Wilmington, N.C.

"Our officers weren't too keen on having to go in there," sheriff's Lt. Shelly Dometrorch said today. "But it's our job."

Blue Note owner Richard King was furious.

"The deputies apologized, saying it's no reflection on the club. But it is a reflection," King said of the 1 a.m. seizure at 17 N. Ninth St. "Think about your business, and deputy cars all around outside, and deputies standing on the stage, not allowing anyone to come close to the equipment. Doesn't that reflect on your business?"

Horton Heat band leader Jim Heath was "totally disgusted with it," King said. "Here's a guy who makes a living with the guitar watching deputies dragging the guitar and amp out the door. He told them, "That's how I make my living!" "

The Interscope Records recording group from Texas has a show scheduled tonight in Springfield. Horton Heat manager Scott Weiss said from Sausalito, Calif., that the band would get its gear back in time for the show.

Horton Heat has retained a Columbia lawyer to seek a means of recovering the equipment that Weiss said was ``hijacked'' by deputies. One option would be to pay the money, which Weiss said has been wire-transferred to the band's lawyer.

A copy of the court order filed in Boone County on Feb. 28 shows that a district court judge in Wilmington, N.C., entered the judgment after ruling that Horton Heat's conduct was ``unfair or deceptive trade practices'' under North Carolina law.

Judge Shelly Holt's order also said the band had been served notice of the legal action but failed to respond in court. Actual damages amounted to $9,510, but the judge awarded triple that amount, plus interest.

Weiss said the Mad Monk dispute stemmed from a 1994 show that Horton Heat canceled at the club after the promoter threatened to withhold $400 to $500 from the band's payment to balance an overpayment purportedly paid to the band Gwar, which is also managed by Weiss.

Weiss said the promoter "told us he was going to sue, but the band was never served with any legal documents."

King said he was "thoroughly disappointed" with the sheriff's department for not contacting him in advance so he could ask Weiss to straighten out the problem.

"I don't know how he would have taken care of it," Dometrorch said. "We had to deal with the band. Those were our instructions. It's right on the paperwork."

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