Life Along the Streetcar with Tom Heath from The Heath Team Nova Home Loans

SaLUTES to 300 – Part 1

Welcome to Episode 299 of Life Along the Streetcar! In this special installment titled “SaLUTES to 300 – Part 1,” we have the pleasure of diving into the incredible legacy of David Slutes, a true Tucson icon who has left an indelible mark on our community. Join us as we embark on a captivating journey through David’s 27-year career at the historic Hotel Congress and explore the evolution of this landmark venue.

David’s Incredible Contributions: David Slutes is a name synonymous with Tucson’s vibrant cultural scene. For over two decades, David has been at the helm of Hotel Congress, transforming it from a historic building into a thriving epicenter of music, arts, and community engagement. His visionary leadership and passion for fostering local talent have made Hotel Congress a cornerstone of Tucson’s urban core.

From his early days managing an internet cafe in the corner where the stage now stands, to orchestrating over 1,200 ticketed events in a single year, David’s impact on Hotel Congress is unparalleled. Under his guidance, the venue expanded from a single-stage setup to a multi-faceted entertainment hub, complete with three stages, a restaurant, and an outdoor space that has hosted countless memorable events. David’s dedication to creating a space that embraces diversity and creativity has truly shaped the cultural fabric of downtown Tucson.

The Evolution of Hotel Congress: Hotel Congress has a storied history dating back to 1919, but it was David Slutes who ushered it into a new era of prominence. In the early days, the venue was a beacon for musicians and artists, even housing one of Tucson’s first internet cafes. As David’s role evolved, so did the vision for Hotel Congress. He saw the potential to create a space that could host a wide variety of events and cater to diverse audiences.

With the introduction of the Century Room, an intimate jazz club, Hotel Congress added another layer to its rich tapestry. David’s ability to adapt and innovate kept the venue relevant and beloved by the community. The addition of outdoor stages and expanded event spaces allowed Hotel Congress to accommodate larger crowds and more varied performances, solidifying its status as a premier destination for entertainment in Tucson.

Building Anticipation for David’s New Venture: As we celebrate David’s remarkable contributions and the evolution of Hotel Congress, we also look forward to his next exciting chapter. David recently announced his retirement from Hotel Congress, but he hinted at an upcoming venture that promises to be just as impactful. While details are still under wraps, we can’t help but feel a sense of anticipation for what’s to come.

David’s new endeavor is shrouded in mystery, but if his past achievements are any indication, we can expect something truly extraordinary. Stay tuned to Life Along the Streetcar for updates on David’s next move, as we eagerly await the reveal of his new project.

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Transcript (Unedited)

Good morning. It’s a beautiful Sunday in the Old Pueblo and you’re listening to KTDT Tucson. Thank you for spending a part of your brunch hour with us on your downtown Tucson community -sponsored, all -volunteer -powered rock and roll radio station. This week we kick off a special two -part series with an extraordinary guest, David Slutes. After an incredible 27 -year journey with Hotel Congress, David is embarking on a new adventure here in Tucson. We’re going to take a look at his impactful career downtown, the creative sparks he ignited, and the lasting legacy he leaves behind. It’s a tribute to both David and our milestone as we move closer to rolling the odometer of our show over to the big 300. It’s a salutes to 300. Today is June 23rd, 2024. My name is Tom Heath, and you’re listening to Life Along the Streetcar. Each and every Sunday, our focus on social, cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s urban core. And we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From a mountain

to the University of Arizona and all stops in between, you get the inside track right here on 99 .1 FM, streaming on downtownradio .org. Also available on your iPhone or Android, if you get our very own specially created Downtown Radio Tucson app. If you want to interact with us on the show, the best way to do that we think is through Facebook and Instagram. And if you want more information about us our book or past episodes you can head over to our Website which is life along the street car org and of course listen to that podcast Anywhere you find your favorite podcasts, and if you don’t see it Let us know and we’ll figure out how to get it there for you Well little technical difficulties last week didn’t have a show had a repeat But it was a fun repeat got to talk about the timber totes again But we do have a fresh show for you today, and it’s a two -parter. I’m excited about this one. I’m excited about all of my shows. It’s just great to have people spend time with me. But I’ve been

trying to get Mr. David Slutz on the show since he announced his retirement from Hotel Congress, and it’s been hard. He’s been busy. We were hoping to get him on as he launches this new venture that he’s on, but it’s not quite ready yet, so we can’t talk about it. But he wouldn’t even give me a little hint so that I could tease you. All I know is it’s something we should get information on next few weeks. But it was still a wonderful interview talking about his history and legacy. And for us, it was exciting because this is episode 299, which means next week is 300. We’re going to wrap up June halfway through the year, and we’re going to be on our 300th episode. And, you know, there’s not a lot of people that I could think that would be a better representation of the urban core in its transition over the last quarter of a century than our guest today, David Salutes. So I thought it was perfect to have this interview and as it goes when you have someone with as much experience and interconnectivity

as David Salutes, the interview runs long. So we decided, you know what, it’s all serendipitous. We’re gonna turn this into a two -parter. It’s our Salutes to 300. This is part one of that interview. you. We recorded down at the Tucson Gallery Studios on Congress in the shadow of his old workplace at Hotel Congress, which he retired from about three weeks ago. And this is my interview with David from just a couple of days ago.

Peas and carrots, peas and carrots. Speaking of peas and carrots, what’s the menu at the Hotel Congress cup cafe these days? I don’t know. And why don’t you know? I don’t know because I haven’t been there in three weeks. All right, but if you’re just joining us here, we are interviewing Mr. David Sluits, the David Sluits, who I would do his intro, but then the show would be over. So we’ll just kind of talk through everything. If he gives me the eye roll, because he doesn’t, I think he’s probably too humble to talk about all the things that he’s done. But let’s start with the most recent venture. I guess most people probably know, but if they don’t, you’ve been in Hotel Congress for a while, but you just decided, I’m done with the peas and carrots.

Well, yeah, I mean, I’ve been there for 27 years. I’ve had most of the roles you could have at a place, and it’s been, you know, part of my life. In fact, on my going -away party, I nearly got a Hoko tattoo done with my bar manager just because I said that’s that’s over half my life. I mean, it’s about half my life, so, in that place. So, I love it dearly. However, an opportunity came along that I said, this could be my great third act, and so I’m going to pursue that.

Paul Jay Well, this is the teaser, because this third act is not yet publicly known, so we can’t ask you about this. Your publicist called me and said, do not ask him about this third act.

Dr. Darrell Bock Yeah,

it’s a cease and desist, and NDA’s left and right.

Paul Jay So we’ll just keep this as a teaser, but we will share the news as soon as we hear it. But this is an end of an era, 27 years. when you announced this on Facebook, there was an outpouring of of emotion, mostly like, mostly positive. I was going to say most of it was like good for you, but bad for us. But I mean, you’ve, you’ve impacted so many people at, at, in, in, in those 27 years. Has anyone else been in hotel Congress other than like the Osa runs? And I mean, has anybody been there that long?

Tiger Ziegler. Okay. 1959. He Tiger’s Tapper. And we just celebrated his birthday. Um, two days before I left. And, you know, so he and I are basically retiring Congress about the same time. So, but so he wins.

Tiger’s retiring as well? He’s retiring as well. Yeah. Oh my gosh. There’s all kinds of changes.

Big news. I’m just full of good news, big news for you.

Well, I think you’re full of news of people that have done wonderful things for this community and have been recognized for that. But let’s take it. Let’s take a journey. If you can, if you would, with me, 27 years ago, downtown was not what it looks like right now. I mean, there was a lot of boarded up

windows and in danger. No. And in fact, it’s it’s just a testament to everybody. People like you, the Ocerans, everyone that we’re sitting here on Congress Street in this beautiful retail storefront looking out on Congress Street. And it’s terrific. It certainly wasn’t that way a quarter of a century ago. There was the Rialto. There was Hotel Congress.

I remember a used clothing store that I liked a lot because they had stuff my size, but that was about it. It lasted little thing, little pop up weird things. But it was a it was a it was a dicey area. And you said, Hey, I’m gonna start my career down here. Let’s do this. Well, I’d already started my career down here. If you think about it, if you go back all the way, you know, I started working there in 96 with opening up a cyber cafe because my predecessor, Dan Vinick, had this idea of opening up this internet thing. And he had a connection with this giant provider who could give us fast internet, which still faster than you get today, a big pipeline. So we had an internet cafe in the very corner where the stage is now, and I ran that for three or four years. I was a working musician, I was bored, I was looking for something else to do, and I did that for four years. That was the first four years of my career until I segued into the, to what naturally made sense for me to do is get into

the programming of the nightclub and other places.

But that was your first role, was the Internet Cafe? That’s right. So is that still operating somewhere?

As I recall, I had to leave on a big European tour on that, in that winter of 2000, and


it shut down right after.

That’s what happens. You’re stars. You go on your European tours, and then we just can’t keep it together without you. But even at that time, an internet cafe in downtown Tucson, it was a little quixotic

idea, plan, but it kind of worked with this little artist hub of what Hotel Congress was. And I was going to finish by saying, starting my career there, well, my career in many ways between this and Nino’s, started at Hotel Congress. The first band ever to play, Al Perry will tell you, was Al Perry and the Cattle. The first show ever. And he proudly said that for a long time. Until I reminded him that he forgot who Little Punk Teenage Kids opened up for him. That was my band. Oh, you opened for Al Perry, so you were the first. Literally the first band ever to play at Hotel Congress. Ha ha ha, those openers. I know. Those openers.


mean, just the punk teenagers. And it’s like, but that history from 1985 all the way to now, you know, it’s like, was this the Sidewinders? No, this was a band called the Vegas Kids. Okay. We were 16 years old and just goofy. What got you to music in the beginning? I just love music. From, from birth on, you don’t remember? I mean, no, I just listened to music. I was in KIKX and K, you know, AM radio fan in the late seventies and just loved music, loved music. And then punk rock came along and allowed a lot of us who weren’t very good at music to become musicians. And that was my segue in and I got better. But it was, punk rock was so wonderful in many ways and that’s one of it. It was the first great equalizer. So go ahead and join a band.

Okay, so the 16 year old gets a little bit older and what are some of the, you’ve been in a couple of different iterations or different bands.

Sure. And then, I mean, and then I, you know, my, my band that, um, I still have to this day is a band called the Sidewinders. And we started around then got a record deal from RCA and we were able to. Dang. Yeah. Two albums on RCA, one on Polygram. We had a MTV videos. We had the whole thing. We had all the look and feel of a real band. And I got to do, you know, tour with all these wonderful people. And to this day we still do. And I still get small royalty checks.

It’s very small. Wait a minute. So you were on MTV as well. You are the first MTV star we have had on Lifelong Streetcar, just so you know that. I think star is a little gracious. We’re going to star. And that’s another first for you. You can put that. I opened Hotel Congress. I was the first MTV star to be on Lifelong Streetcar. I think that pretty much completes the cycle. What else do you need? What else do you need? Exactly. So you get into music. your, your band is, I mean, you’ve got a, an RCA contract, you’re, you’re touring. Um, where does the internet cafe fit

in? Is this? So, so I’m doing this, but still living in Tucson. We get to around, to around the band, that band first broke up in about 94. First broke up. Yeah. We broke up three times. Um, and now we’re, we just stopped breaking up and we just persist. Um, every tour you do is a reunion tour. We love playing. And we did, I mean, it was so much fun and we got to write so many great songs and I just loved it. But there was a period where I was just working on local acts here and obviously very familiar with Congress. We played there all the time. We had RCA did their record lease parties here. This was, I loved the place. It was had this downtown edgy vibe and it was just, it reminded me a lot of urban centers around the country that had the art scene there. The LGBTQ scene was comfortable there. All the great artful stuff Congress, you know, was was kind of doing and I’ve always gravitated toward it. So when Dan Vinick, who was kind of quasi book in the place doing said had this idea of

putting a cyber cafe together, he knew that I was a tech nerd and said, hey Dave you want to run it? I go, sure. And so I did that and ended up doing four years. Well and then slipping off and doing doing tours and whatnot in the interim but that was it. That’s ultimately how it ended too. I had a tour and we were all

gone. But yeah, that’s what I’m saying. You MTV stars, you’re like, Oh, got to go. Europe is calling. Got to sell that merch. Well, we’ll find out how the European tour went. And what happened when David got back to Tucson and kind of what the next steps his career took. If you’re just joining us, we’re interviewing David Slutz, retired after 27 years working with Hotel Congress. He’s off to a yet undisclosed adventure. And we are interviewing him today as part of a two part series that We’ll wrap up next week, which will be our 300th episode, and we’re calling it a salutes to 300. My name is Tom Heath. You’re listening to Life Along The Streetcar. It’s on Downtown Radio 99 .1 FM and streaming on downtownradio .org.

Support for Downtown Radio is provided by the Tucson Gallery, located in downtown Tucson inside of the proper shops at 300 East Congress Street. The Tucson Gallery offers original work, reproductions, and merchandise from Tucson artists like Joe Pacek, Jessica Gonzalez, Ignacio Garcia, and many more. For information about all of the artists, including when they will be live at the gallery, head to the TucsonGallery .com or find them on Instagram and on Facebook as Tucson Gallery.

Welcome back. Welcome back. If you are joining us, we are in the midst of an interview with David Slutz. I talked to him earlier this week at the Tucson Gallery Studios, which are right across the street. It sits right across the street from Hotel Congress, which is David’s most recent workplace. He’s on to a new adventure, which we’ll hear more about here in a few weeks. Don’t have any details to share with you right now, but we’re taking a look at the legacy of David. So it’s the impact that he had had and talking a lot about sort of his foundation, his musical career and how he got started with Hotel Congress. And on the second part of the interview this week, we’re going to talk more about some of his impact with Hotel Congress. And as we get into the show next week, we’ll start looking at how his creativity and his imagination really helped bolster downtown outside of Hotel Congress, impacting the community and musicians as well. We’ll get back to the second half of our interview with

David Slutz, recorded a couple days ago at the Tucson Gallery Studios.

So then the internet cafe, you come back from Europe, the internet cafe, you’re so sad to see it’s gone, but you don’t leave Hotel Congress.

No, I sort of on hold because Shane had asked me to, I was also a wine guy. I mean, wine, women, and song was my motto in the 90s, all the way through. Sounds like the proper shop’s motto, sip, shop, and mingle, we’re pretty close to that. Yeah, so it was song, the women thing I never figured out, But the, the, the, the wine part, um, uh, she knew I was a fan. So she asked me to come pick out the wine list after when I got back from tour. I never did. And ended up just staying for the next 25 years.

So she’s still at your retirement party. She’s like, are you going to give me the wine list? Are you going to give me this wine list?

You said some point, but, uh, it was great. And I, it was probably, you know, and, and getting into a place. And I had my philosophy about how to run a place like this and make it owned to buy all the community. And I think there was some things I really thought we could really do with it. But I went into what I thought was the best place in town in the first place. And I just, I hope I kept the level of quality up. And I know we expanded quite a bit in that time, too.

Yeah, yeah, I was gonna say you’ve been you’ve been there from the not the earliest days, but very early on. And now, we’ll tell Congress and if you haven’t been in there in a Wow, it’s, I mean, it’s always been amazing since I’ve been downtown, but now it’s incredible with the sentry room. Yeah. But you’ve got three full stages in there now?

Yeah, I mean, when we started, we had one stage that was, could fit maybe 150 people, though we always got more, and then we expanded that stage. Then I realized, you know, I think we need more space. So I, little by little, knocked out the parking lot.

Yeah, when I moved downtown, there was a parking lot there, really poorly designed and – Horrible.

Incredibly frustrating parking


And it was a bad parking lot. And I said, there’s much better use in my, myself and my, my assistant, Matt Becke, who is just the greatest guy.

Oh, Matt, we’ve had, we’ve had Matt on the show.

Right. He’s, he’s my adopted son. I love this guy. And he and I would pull out a stage every weekend and try to get shows out. And I said, you know what, why not a permanent stage and why not see if we can find that sweet spot between a size venue downtown that isn’t a club, but it’s real. out. And we tried to get that there. And in many respects, we nailed it. Yeah, it’s an outdoor venue, we have a hotel and restaurant, you can’t do everything. But I think in many ways, it became it’s become a great community space, and just in just embraced by everybody. And it’s been, I’m very proud of that. And then, you know, post COVID, here we go. And Arthur Vince, we get Arthur been to do the century room, which has been just the most remarkable success as well. I mean think about all the people who go to jazz shows, the demographic that goes to jazz shows, typically older, typically the people who complain about parking, complain about the people on the streets, the people everything, and they

show up every night because it’s such a quality venue with such great programming and I couldn’t be more

tickled. Yeah. And I was there soon after the century room opened. Um, and it was a Friday night and I was on the, on the back patio and, uh, um, um, but butcher and the Barnaby and the butcher were playing in the back. You had something fairly hardcore in there in the club and you had jazz in the century room and I bought tickets to all three and I, and I just wanted to see, and I like went into each venue, completely different vibe and completely like isolated. Like you did not feel like you were competing with anything in any of those venues. It was really quite amazing. And I’m like, this is incredible.

Well, and if you think about it, I mean, we’re sitting right across the street from Hotel Congress right now. And it’s not, it takes up a small block, but it’s not that big. And we’ve somehow figured out how to do those three venues. And I mean, if anything, I was good at quantity of programming. And it’s always been a dream of mine. I mean, we ended up last year, we looked at my ticket sales and said, we did 1 ,251 ticketed shows last year. Last year? 1 ,251. Last year? Yeah. There’s only 365 days in the year. Okay. Do the math. And that’s, yeah, I mean, those are ticketed events, not the free things and the other things. And so we, you need all that space and Arthur Vint coming in and doing his remarkable job and the people we’ve had working there And, and the people who I think like the Patrick Cardenas is and the Megan’s, all these people have been on the staff and know how to pivot and move. And there’s, there’s a special quality to people who work there. They know it’s, I hope you

like to work and I hope you like the fun action. And I hope you like chaos, because I’ve got it for you. So that’s Congress.

How has your staff been as a bit I know Patrick’s been there for quite a while. Have you seen? Do you have you mentioned a few names, people that have kind of been sort of those those backbone of that timeframe?

Well, you know, be quite honest. And I think it’s really the COVID thing. Like anything, it’s a BC and AC. AC. We lost a lot of great people. You know, there’s always the consistency of the Ocerans and they’re from an employment standpoint. Not Yeah, not just the people, the people that are there we have. Thank God we have Patrick, of course, we have Barb Trujillo, who has been a stalwart. She will probably take she I think now takes seniority there. She’s been there. She says she got there 96 the year I did. I think she got there a little later, but there’s it’s a debate we’ll have kind of the whole Al Perry

thing. Yeah, she was pretty close. But yeah, but I mean,

she’s still there, which is great. And some of those consistent characters and, and it’s a few of the employees. And then a lot of these employees who’ve left and then come back and left and come back to gravity of Congress is pretty intense. Yeah, this place is crazy. And then they go away. someplace, get bored and come back. Because it’s crazy.

And those we’ve had some of those those those figures, but it’s, you know, through it all. So the Oh, sarans who’ve been to, you know, myself and the Oh, sarans, the anchors of the thing that the things you could always count on rely on there. So

that’s David sluts. We’re, we’re about halfway through an interview we did with him earlier this week at the Tucson Gallery Studios. We’re talking about his impact at Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson, and the legacy he leaves behind as he, I think somewhat surprisingly to him, left his job here at Hotel Congress to take on a new venture. And as I’ve said a few times, we don’t have all the details. In fact, we have no details about what he’s about to be doing. We should know in a few weeks, I hope, and maybe shed some light on what was so exciting that it pulled him away, because you can hear his enthusiasm for what he did at Hotel Congress. Next week, we’ll have the last segment of the last two segments of this interview, and that’ll be on our 300th episode as we continue with this two -part series that we are calling a Salutes to 300 in honor of David Salutes and in recognition of our 300th episode. My name is Tom Heath. You are listening to Life Along the Streetcar. We’re on Downtown

Radio 99 .1 FM and we’re streaming on downtownradio .org.

You’re listening to KTDT, Tucson, Arizona, 99 .1 FM, Downtown Radio. I’m Brother Mark, host of a show called Radio Club Crawl that airs every Tuesday at 3 p .m. We try to focus on most of the bands that are coming through Tucson and we give you a tasty taste of their music. You want to check out what’s happening around Tucson? check out Radio Club Crawl, Tuesdays 3 p .m. right here on KTDT Tucson, Arizona 99 .1 FM, Downtown Radio. Thank you very much. Enjoy your evening. Bye -bye.

Well if you want to hear more about Brother Mach or want to check out any of his shows head over to downtownradio .org that’s where you find information about Radio Club Crawl and all the volunteer DJs that we have here. As you know Sundays are reserved for specialty shows and talk shows and come back to Monday. We have rock and roll through Saturday each weekday paleo Dave knocks it out with Scrambled sunrise from 7 to 9 a .m. Great way to start your morning We’ve got fantastic shows, you know, I love mr Nature and the art of easing the shows that precede me here on Sundays and then DJ Bank who does the art of easing? He’s got a new show on Tuesday’s called a different state of mind and he focuses on music and artists from a particular state and Weaves together just a wonderful playlist. I just really enjoy it’s got his vibe Definitely different than the art of easing but certainly the knowledge and expertise in the way He puts the songs together and we kind of build you up brings you

back build you up So intentional and how he creates the mood when you’re listening to his shows He’s a volunteer, Paleo Dave’s a volunteer, Brother Mark’s a volunteer, we’re all volunteers. So head over to downtownradio .org to check out all those information for all those shows. And then while you’re there, maybe hit the donate button and give us a little love and support. And speaking of shows, don’t go anywhere because we got Ted Przelski with Words and Work. He’s gonna interview writers and others from the labor movement and that’s coming up here in just a few minutes. And then at the top of the hour, It’s Ty Logan with Heavy Mental and back into the music at one o ‘clock with Speakerboxx. And yeah, good way to spend your Sunday. Hard to find a day when you can’t just turn on this radio and just enjoy what’s being done out there. So many talented DJs, just amazing to me. And if you want something here on the show, right, next week we’re going to have the second part of our interview

with David Sluets. It’ll be episode 300, all kinds of fanfare. Yeah, probably not, but it’ll be David Slutes, which is cool. We’ll finish up that interview. And if there’s things you want to know, because if you’re listening to this show, it’s hyperlocal, right? It’s three miles. So if you’re paying attention to this show, then there’s certainly some things out there that interest you that are probably aligned with our interests and we’d like to hear from you. And if you do anything out there with a Tucson -focused social media account, tag us, mention us, and we’ll share what you’re doing and try to bring a few of our followers into your world and it’ll be a fun way to connect and collaborate. And of course, if you have any questions, you can head over to our website, which is lifealongthestreetcar .org. There’s a contact button there if you wanna just reach out to us that way. Well, James Portis is our production specialist. My name is Tom Heath. I am the host and producer. And I wanna

thank, as always, Ryan Hood for letting us use Dillinger Days, which opens our show, and we’re going to leave you with music today from the Sidewinders. This is the band David Sluetz is in that started in the 80s and they’re still playing. This is from 1990. It’s from the Auntie Ramos’ Pool Hall album, and it’s what David Sluetz is doing now at Hotel Congress. The song is called We Don’t Do That Anymore. I hope you have a great week, and tune in next Sunday for more life along the streetcar.