Less than six months into its new ownership, the Hawthorne venue Mt. Tabor Legacy (formerly Sabala's and the Mt. Tabor Theater) has changed hands once again—this time in a coup lead by the former owner's mother.
Kate Atkins escorted her 26-year-old daughter, Legacy co-owner Dawning McGinnis, out of the dim club on July 25 after an argument about the club. The next day, McGinnis returned to find that the Legacy's locks had been changed and the bank accounts frozen.
McGinnis and her mother purchased the 94-year-old former burlesque lounge together last March. McGinnis claims that the property is leased in her name alone, although she and Atkins leased the Legacy with equity from a home they own jointly. But the name on the lease didn't stop Atkins from taking the reigns of the venue. Although McGinnis insists that she is the rightful owner, she has not seen the crimson and black interior of the two-staged club in over a month.
Atkins insists that the decision to remove McGinnis from the business was mutual—a claim that her daughter denies—and that she took control of the Legacy to protect her daughter's mental health. “Bless her heart, it was a little over her head,” she said with a sigh in our recent interview. “The stress was really taking a toll on her health.”
Atkins, who says she owned an antique dealership for years, insists that her daughter's youth and inexperience in business was interfering with the Legacy's success. And McGinnis agrees that age is crucial in the music business: She thinks that her mother's age will make it difficult for her to run a hip venue in the trendy, young Hawthorne neighborhood. “She is a 54-year-old retired opera singer,” groaned McGinnis, who doubts her mother's capacity to deal with the club's usual slate of punk and hard rock performers—let alone their fans (Mt. Tabor's clientèle is historically leather-clad).
Atkins, however, is confident in her ownership skills. The recently updated Legacy website reads, “Now under new ownership, we are giving the Mt. Tabor the love it deserves and turning it into the largest live music venue in SE Portland.” But that bright and shiny message hardly clicks with the story that's unfolding behind Mt. Tabor's scenes. McGinnis is working with a lawyer to reclaim the club, but says she won't call the police because she can't bear to see her mother escorted out by the cops.
Despite the daughter-mama drama, a steady parade of bands continues to grace the Legacy's stages. This Saturday, The Thieves and Royal Houser will perform at 9 pm. Even better, the Miss White Trash Pageant 2008 will be held at the Legacy on Saturday, September 22—let's hope the hillbilly spirit infects McGinnis and Atkins to start a mother-daughter brawl. Winner takes the crown—and the club.
Mt. Tabor Legacy
Old photo of Mt. Tabor courtesy of the venue's space.