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He also worries about Richard Thompson, with whom he has had a long working relationship, and who performed at the club Monday, and about Jonathan Richman, who was scheduled to play last Sunday, but who called McClellan personally to cancel his show due to an illness in the Richman family. He says he knows he leaves the club "in good hands with Nate and Conrad and everybody." And his status in the music community and as a board member of the Cedar Cultural Center ensures that he's not about to fold up his tent and go away. "There's shows I want to do," he says, "because they're friends."
So no, the building at Seventh and First is still standing. And yes, things change. Sonic Youth will play the Quest, you and I will continue going to First Avenue, and there may or may not be great music there for years to come. But what will not be there is the specter of Steve, ever grumpy and roaming the Entry and mainroom in search of warm bodies to talk to about how much he hates music and the state of journalism and why everybody wants to be on the guest list for the Strokes or Lucinda Williams but few turn out for the amazing world music shows he cares most about. What will not be there will be Steve's ever-ready earful, which was usually as entertaining as whatever he was putting on stage that night.
Which is why I stole something from Steve's office Tuesday. It's an envelope, the one that contained his pink slip and which says on the front, simply, "Steve." I grabbed it to take some notes, and now it's in my collection of ticket stubs, flyers, and setlists--an artifact from the night First Avenue was gutted.
Jim Walsh can be reached at 612.372.3775 or firstname.lastname@example.org .