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Durham rooms 

The Durham venue quest continues: Aside from the occasional acoustic show, CHAZ'S BULL CITY RECORDS (1916 Perry St., 286-9640, www.myspace.com/bullcityrecords) is withdrawing almost completely from the show business. The store, which celebrated its one-year anniversary in November, became a center for local punk and hardcore shows during most of 2006. But it's located on the second floor of a building on Perry Street, and owner Chaz Martenstein is worried that old floorboards and joists could create a serious problem if he continues rock shows that involve jumping.

"I think I was just testing the floors the whole time," says Martenstein. "I don't want my stock to end up in the photography shop beneath here."

Martenstein does have plans to put his reputation as an ally for touring bands to use, though. Along with a group of organizers that includes Durham bands Midtown Dickens and Eberhardt, Martenstein is looking to begin renting a large, open room (with concrete floors) near downtown Durham sometime in the next two months. He wants to put on several shows a week there while also using it as an artist space, a gallery and a bike co-op.

"Because we're between D.C. and Atlanta, the shows and the area ended up getting a little more attention," says Martenstein. "I would hate to lose that momentum by stopping now."

For now, Martenstein has just one show booked for Bull City: Megafaun and Homemade Knives play the store Friday, Jan. 12.

BROAD STREET CAFÉ (1116 Broad St., 416-9707, broadstreetcafe.org), which recently opened in the space that previously belonged to Ooh La Latte, is busier than ever. Owner Jonathan Tagg says that six nights of music are now on the books most weeks. Peter Holsapple, whose The dB's will return to a local stage in February, is playing the club every other Sunday night.

"We're bringing at least 200 and sometimes 400 total through the door every week," says Tagg. "That's very big for us."

Stephanie Harris, the manager of Durham coffee shop SIPS (2501 University Drive, 401-8032, www.sipscoffeeandtea.com), says they hope to have music on Friday and Saturday nights soon, and they've finally got everything in place (including a liquor license) to launch their plans. Harris, who is new to the area, says one of the biggest challenges they face is tapping into the local music scene, but she hopes that guitarist Will McFarlane, a friend of Sips owner Bob Bohannon, can help. So far, area folk favorite Jon Shain is the only musician on the books, and he's set to play on Friday, Feb. 16.

Sips' plan to incorporate music is part of a larger strategy to expand its business and the options available to an older clientele in Durham looking for late-evening entertainment. "We struggled as just a coffee shop, so we hope we can add some new components and make it more profitable," says Harris. "We decided to go for the after-dinner crowd. A lot of the time the only option is the bar. So we want to offer something a little different."

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