The Hellblinki Sextet
Music is silenced at Hangnail Gallery

By Patrick Verel | Staff Writer
Eighth Street is going to be a lot quieter now.

After four years of all-ages concerts, the Hangnail Gallery is closing. Owner Andrew Benjamin, best known for commanding the Hellblinki Sextet, alerted patrons Friday, via e-mail, that the owners of the building had terminated their rental agreement, which had been on a month-to-month basis. The last show will be either Nov. 27 or Nov. 28.
    The club, which opened its doors in November 2000 with a Hellblinki performance, served as both a rehearsal space for the band and a venue for punk, rockabilly, goth and noise bands, in addition to techno, rave and industrial shows.
    Mr. Benjamin said the building owners won't tell him why they want him out and haven't returned his phone calls. Over the years, residents of The Richmond Summit complained about noise, he said, and he had to fight to get basic repairs done to the interior.
    Mr. Benjamin said there's some relief in calling it a day. "It was a lot of work and there wasn't any money in it," he said.
    Looking back, Mr. Benjamin said, he's most happy with the way he was able to help "remove some musical blinders" from the Augusta nightlife. The annual Halloween parties - Cirque de Diabolique, Dead Pirate's Ball and Monsters in the Closet - were especially popular.
    "I liked getting a lot of people in there having a really good time," he said. "To have something a little different and little more strange and have a good turnout, that was really cool."
    There are some unrealized dreams, though. "We would have liked to have gotten more experimental works in," Mr. Benjamin said. "Part of it was lack of time on my part, but there's also not a lot of that going around here ... on a local level. I wanted it to be more of a gallery, and that didn't really happen, either."
    As for the future, Mr. Benjamin said he plans to spend more time painting, writing music and possibly revisiting photography. A move to Asheville, N.C., might be on the horizon, but right now, there are Hellblinki concerns.
    "We'll have to find another rehearsal space right away," Mr. Benjamin said. "We'd like to stay at least through the rest of the year. Hellblinki will continue."

--From the Thursday, November 18, 2004 printed edition of the Augusta Chronicle