You have to lean in for Dee Davis to talk directly into your ear.
Johnny Winter’s guitar is blaring through a sound system that shakes Club Fever to its core on this recent Saturday night. The club’s owner is trying to explain that Winter’s personal sound man is minding the board, not the usual sound tech Davis has contracted for the evening.
But unless you can read Davis’ lips, his words fall on numb eardrums.
“If you think this is loud,” he says, “you should (have) heard Pop Evil.”
When those hard rockers played Club Fever last year, Davis says, ears were blown clean off.
Ah, but there have been so many who left the Club Fever crowd with memories that had nothing to do with ringing ears or an automatic reply of “What?” to anybody who said anything for days afterwards.
Precisely 135 in all since Davis bought Club Fever in April 2005 — blues legends Pinetop Perkins and Robert Cray, country outlaws Leon Russell and David Allen Coe, drumming legend Steve Gadd, rockers Ted Nugent and Robin Trower, and hard rockers Sevendust and Halestorm.
“Right now,” Davis says of the top draws at the downtown South Bend concert hall, “Sevendust has the lead as a draw by a lot.
“My favorite,” he says, “was Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades in an acoustic show that was extremely fun and well done.”
He might get an argument from Snoop’s Dogg Pound, particularly those who showed up in January 2013 to see Snoop Dogg during his second appearance at Club Fever.
Snoop’s sound was crisp. The lights were stunning. And the Doggmeister himself kept his pimp hand flowing for nearly two hours, embracing the peeps who waved their hands in the air like they just didn’t care and leaving the stage in a haze that hadn’t been seen since the last Cheech and Chong movie.
Which brings Davis to the subject of security at Club Fever — a mix of privately contracted security and off-duty South Bend Police Department cops who allow folks such as the Snoop Dogg crowd to have a good toke as long as they don’t make it too obvious or cross the line into stupidity.
“We’ve got about 20 of our own guys,” Davis says. “We have a lot of off-duty cops we call in.”
Security is also at the beck and call of the artist.
“Anytime there’s a tour, the tour manager has specific requirements for that tour,” Davis says. “Maybe they need someone by the alley, or by the bus, which is parked right outside the back door. We walk the artist in and out. That’s all set.”
Although Club Fever has evolved into the stage in South Bend where you can catch Snoop Dogg, or those old music heroes who can’t quite fill the Morris Performing Arts Center anymore, or the rising star who can’t quite fill the Morris just yet, the Fahrenheit Room is catching on as one of the best-kept dance-club secrets in town.
Every Thursday night is Student Night, followed by Funky Fridays with DJ CK-1 spinning Top 40 and dance hits from the ’90s. On Saturdays, the Club Fever dance floor kicks in with hip-hop, house, techno and Top 40 dominating DJ CK-1’s turntable.
“This time of year,” Davis says, “unless we have a concert, we normally open the bars.”
Next up on the Club Fever concert stage is Bret Michaels on April 27. The 50-year-old former Poison glam rocker sold more than 30 million records in the ’80s and ’90s, had a reality TV hit with his win-a-date-with-Bret show “Rock of Love,” then resumed touring three years ago after recovering from a brain hemorrhage that nearly killed him.
Unless Johnny Winter’s sound man shows up unannounced, the sound will be handled by Club Fever’s regular contract techs.
“Our guys know the room,” Davis says.