On Sept. 4, 2002, The Palms Playhouse presented its first show in the club’s then-new location in the Winters Opera House in downtown Winters. When Jimmy LaFave took the stage on that hot Wednesday night, a capacity crowd witnessed what many had feared couldn’t happen: The Palms living on, as strong as ever.
That Jimmy LaFave show happened only a week and a half after The Palms’ last show in the club’s original location in “the old barn” in South Davis, where it was located for 27 years. When a land deal preemptively forced manager Dave Fleming to either find a new location or close the world-renowned roots music venue, audiences and musicians alike worried that the rising tide of townhouses would spell the beloved club’s demise.
One fan, local filmmaker Alvin Remmers, started documenting the venue during that uncertain summer. With concert footage and interviews, he set about creating a time capsule of The Palms’ first location.
The resulting 112 minute movie, “Closing the Palms Playhouse: The End of an Era in Davis,” will screen at none other than The Palms Playhouse (in Winters) on Sunday, Sept. 17, starting at 5 p.m. The juxtaposition of the title and the location highlights that while the barn location did close in Davis, The Palms (thankfully) moved rather than closed.
Remmers’ film includes footage of long-time Palms favorites such as Utah Phillips (who played both the first and last concerts in the old barn), Dave Alvin, Mumbo Gumbo, Nina Gerber, Steve Seskin and Golden Bough, as well as interviews with longtime manager and owner Dave Fleming, first owner Linda McDonagh, and members of The Palms’ original theater troupe the Bad Actors. Remmers augmented the 2002 material with additional interviews filmed in 2008, 2015 and 2016 as well as with archival material.
The Sept. 17 screening is part of an event celebrating The Palms’ fifteenth anniversary in Winters.
During the last show in the Davis location, legendary folk singer and songwriter Utah Phillips told the audience, “The Palms is not just a performance venue but a social occasion. The Palms isn’t going to go away because The Palms is the people. It’s you.”
The last 15 years have proven just how right Phillips was.
Tickets for the Sunday, Sept. 17 screening of the Palms movie at The Palms Playhouse (13 Main Street in Winters) are $10 and are available at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland and at the door if not sold out.
For more information, visit palmsplayhouse.com.