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Musicians plan benefit for club owner

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One of the metro's storied bars, the Hi-Lo Club, 1221 N.W. 50th, suffered a blow when its longtime manager and current co-owner Jimmy O'Neil was hospitalized recently after a series of strokes.

O'Neil established the club's Tuesday "band night" 15 years ago, which attracted larger, mixed crowds and developed the Hi-Lo into an oasis for experimental bands and local gays, at a time when both were having a hard time finding open-minded club owners.

"It is a CBGB; it is the underground," said Tanya Felter, member of local psychedelic rock act Ghost of Monkshood. "It was an important place for the gay community before they were culturally accepted, so it made sense that it would also become an underground music venue."

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Now, the scene that O'Neil helped bolster is rallying to his aid. Fund-raising events started in June and are being staged across the metro to chip away at the mountain of medical bills he faces. The effort continues with a $5 Ghost of Monkshood show 10 p.m. Tuesday at the club.

Hi-Lo manager Charlie Land said that it wasn't difficult to convince venue owners to offer up space for the fund-raisers, since they'd also benefited from O'Neil's strident support of the music scene.

"I like to think of (Hi-Lo) as the crossroads between the gay community and the straight community," Land said. "There are some people in the gay scene who don't go to a lot of straight bars. Then there are a lot of straight people who don't want to go into the gay scene. Here, all that is left at the door, and you might have some straight guy with his arm around a gay guy, and it doesn't mean anything." "Charles Martin

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