Tenement Halls: Where The Hell Are They? (+5 New Songs)

Chris Lopez was the first person from Atlanta I met when I actually came into Atlanta. I had arranged for backline for two shows that Chicago’s Tar were doing with Man…or Astro-Man? in ’93 and they knew him from Dirt when they’d played with them. Cabbagetown was a far different sight now (which is a book in itself), let alone when I moved to the neighborhood in ’98. Chris was quiet, but friendly and polite.

Over the years, I saw Chris routinely in Athens when the Rock*A*Teens were starting and with about the same frequency when I moved to Atlanta. Rock*A*Teens were, and continue to be, this glimpse into a soul-tinged gothic South. And I say this often, but I couldn’t imagine them being from anywhere other than Atlanta. It just fits. (Check out the "A Major Motion Picture" CD I did over here.)

When the Rock*A*Teens disbanded, Chris continued to perform the occasional gig around town. First as Chrisanthemum and then as Tenement Halls around ’03. Listening to their one full length is about as close to perfect as you’ll get. And christ, that record came out six years ago and I still listen to it routinely.

Lopez and Fran from Tenement Halls at 40 Watt ’08. cMike White

Live performances were rare and usually required persistence. The last two times I had him play shows I did were both with Harvey Milk (due mostly to Tanner’s affiliation thru Seersucker), but that was ’08. Chris’s last last local performance was in ’09 as a warm-up for the Merge anniversary gig that he played later that week. However, there’s not been even a peep since then.

Now granted, Chris has a day job, a wife and a son, but even keeping ear to the ground yields no information. Occasional talks with his wife show her as a big fan of his as well. And yes, she’d love him to write and play more. Whenever I run into the members of Tenement Halls at bars or parties, their responses are equally as puzzling. In fact, the general response is "I’ve not heard from him." Such a goddamned pity.

Well, as a fan of his, I know I’m not alone. And furthermore, I know many of those fans live far from Georgia, and (thanks to no touring to speak of) many have never even had the opportunity to see them perform. And that’s where I step in.

The last couple times that Tenement Halls performed at the EARL, they played a total of five new songs. Much like Knitting Bells, many songs are directed towards his new (and happy) life with wife and (new) child. Will he ever record these in a studio? Who knows? But I know how many times I get asked about Chris and the Tenement Halls when I travel and I feel it a gift to those people that I include these live recordings from The EARL which were handily mixed by good pal Curt Wells. Please enjoy.

Tenement Halls – Am I Your Man? (unreleased live)

Tenement Halls – Closer To Heaven (unreleased live)

Tenement Halls – I Can Feel It Coming On (unreleased live)

Tenement Halls – Ink Black Sea (unreleased live)

Tenement Halls – West End Rail Line (unreleased live)