Skid Row’s Hidden Place – The Tempered Plug (At Catrancher Studios)

Authored by Dale Nickey:

If you walk down Skid Row in downtown L.A., you will see a desert of  despondency and dementia. However, wafting out of the upper floor over the assembled multitude you will hear music.  Invisible to all below is an oasis of hope and light called Catrancher Studios; equal parts musical laboratory, performance space and church of the muse and mind.  When economics dictate, Catrancher is also a top-notch post-production facility.


Catrancher is owned and operated by feline impresario Lassie. However, she delegates most technical and musical support to her human Larry.


Those who make the pilgrimage to Catrancher, will find one of the more alluring features is the 24/7 club cum musical alter, The Tempered Plug. You see, the loft space that currently houses the Catrancher complex came equipped with its very own half-pipe. Apparently the previous resident was an agoraphobic skateboard enthusiast who favored brushing up their kickturns and axie stalls in the comfort of home. A radical half-pipectomy left Catrancher with an impressive elevated bandstand for live music performance.


However, the attraction of Catrancher and The Tempered Plug is not only the incongruity of the locale,   the space is also a visceral treat for any musician who likes instruments, collectables, and ephemera large and small.  You will find an array of stringed instruments to rival most music shops (sans the ‘don’t touch without assistance’ placards). Additionally, every mundane household item (lamps, ashtrays, clock,  mousepad, thermometer etc….) is a miniature guitar or musical instrument.  And,  if your media of choice is books. You could get lost for years in the Catrancher library of vintage classics.


If jamming on Don Ho tunes is your plate of poi, grab a slack key Hawaiian guitar off the wall or one of a dozen varieties of ukulele on display.  And, if you really do feel the spirit and want to go all hymnal on somebody’s ass, sit down at a real live pipe organ, harmonium or old school church pump organ. There’s no musical elitism at Catrancher. If you want to grab a bass off the wall and sit in on a more conventional jam, all the better;  just decide if you prefer the four or eight string variety.

If you do attend a performance happening at The Tempered Plug, there are some basic rules of engagement.  The sacrament of music is not bestowed lightly. Loitering in the stairwells to smoke, natter and pose is discouraged. If you’re there, you’re there. You must give the courtesy of your presence.

The homey comforts of The Tempered Plug aside, Catrancher Studios has a more practical reason for its existence.  It’s a recording studio meant to capture and disseminate music of all sorts. Lassie and her human Larry maintain a ‘state of the art’ Pro-Tools facility in order to capture any magic the muse friendly environment of Catrancher might produce. Voice-overs are also a specialty.  Some studios specialize in producing hi-fidelity sounds and do it well.  Catrancher offers the same with extras that cannot be found in any other recording studio in the city.


There’s a vibe at Catrancher.  People record in New York to catch that city’s energy.  Same is true with New Orleans and San Francisco.  Up until now, L.A. had a sound more associated with the snootier, show-bizzy aspect of the music industry. L.A can now boast an urban, edgy but organic sound that embraces the wildly diverse pallet of indiginous cultural influences. That sound and vibe belongs to Catrancher Studios. Skid Row’s hidden place…..


View from the roof of Catrancher Studios>>>>>>>

This article remains posted as a tribute to the great Larry Dean Embry who tragically passed away in 2013.


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