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Momo's owner, singer bring Austin sounds to New York

Peter Mongillo

After more than a decade at the helm of West Sixth Street's hub of live music, Momo's owner Paul Oveisi and his girlfriend, singer-songwriter Suzanna Choffel, are moving north to New York, where Oveisi will manage Hill Country Live, an addition to the 4-year-old Hill Country Barbecue. Friends gathered Friday at the club to bid the two farewell, with performances by Choffel, Dan Dyer and Kacy Crowley, among others.

"As much as I love the city, there's this itch to experience something else, and when I do go to New York, I can't help but be captivated by the energy in that city," Oveisi said.

In addition to owning Momo's, Oveisi has played a role in representing the music community in several ways during recent years. In 2008, he served as the head of Austin's Live Music Task Force, which resulted in the creation of a city music manager as well as recommendations regarding sound ordinances, entertainment districts and other areas of concern for people involved with music. He went on to serve as a vice chair on the Austin music commission, which continues to deal with those issues, and the executive director for Austin Music People, which launched earlier this year.

He'll be stepping down from those positions (AMP is currently searching for a new director), but he'll still be involved as the owner of Momo's. "It is a little weird," Oveisi says of his move, "But it just feels right."

Oveisi adds that aside from his not being there regularly, not much will change at Momo's. Will Evans, who has been at the club almost as long as Oveisi, will continue to manage operations, and Oveisi still will be involved with booking. "

Though Oveisi has been considering heading up to the Big Apple for quite some time, the move comes earlier than expected. The original plan was to open a small listening room in Brooklyn within a year or two. That changed when he found a job listing for a club manager with an understanding of Austin's music scene.

"The guys at Hill Country said, ‘Why don't you come run our music venue instead,' and that all went down within two or three days," he said. One reason Hill Country owner Marc Glosserman, whose father is from Lockhart, hired Oveisi is to develop a talent exchange between the cities. Oveisi says he looks forward to helping New York-based musicians perform in Austin.

As for Choffel, she already has booked an end-of-the-year residency at Lower East Side haunt the Living Room, and is planning on touring the Northeast. "I feel like I've done a lot in Austin, now I kind of want to go branch out in a new region," she said. "Texas is a huge state, and regional touring is fairly limited. Up here everything is so close so you're able to hit a more dense area."

She'll be back in November and December for shows, including at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. "As one of my friends put it, this is just a tease," she said of her move.

pmongillo@statesman.com; 445-3696

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that musician Adrian Quesada performed at Momo's on Friday night. Musician Kacy Crowley's name was also spelled incorrectly.