Last night, the legendary Blues artist Buddy Guy headlined the stages of the B.B. King Blues Club for their final event. Yes my friends, as we’ve noted in a previous post, the illustrious Times Square venue has closed its doors. We’ve already noted how a skyrocketing rent was the root cause and this is something we are hearing in NYC all the frigging time nowadays and its becoming boring. The greed of the regions property owners are making all of the things that make our city special go away. It sucks. Now as a scribe whose spent a considerable amount of time supporting shows in this venue for the past thirteen years, I had been on a mission this afternoon to snap a shot of the “Thank You” message that a friend showed me was on the marquee last night. After attending the Ghost press conference, I headed uptown to Times Square and I was left speechless by what I saw when I reached my destination.
Sadly, B.B. King’s no longer even existed by the time that I got there and all of the marquee signage was gone along with the neon and the photos that adorned it among numerous other lights for all of Times Square to see. Staff was zipping in and out with stuff and when I asked someone why this was so quick an occurrence they said that they needed to be out by tomorrow (Tuesday). Clearly the thrill was gone and I will miss this place very much. I still have to do a massive compilation of my very favorite performances here for you to enjoy but its taking me a little longer than I expected it to since there are quite a few. In my announcement about the closing, I had miscalculated my contests for the place and there was only “80” of them and not “92” as I previously reported. I did still put over “600” fans into the shows in the place so that is all that matters to me.
The loss of this venue also breaks some of the pre-gaming rituals that my friends and I would have. Generally, we would find ourselves assembling and catching up at the nearby Smith’s Bar and then heading over once all had joined in and the show was relatively close to starting. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve covered shows here and how many different bands all get added up but will say its at least “200” on the show review scale and probably around “600” for individual bands. Though its been said that there is interest in finding another location, one has to wonder if there will there even be time to focus on that with the brand new Sony Hall having absorbed most of their programming while some other shows have been taken over to the Highline Ballroom. I’m sure going to miss this place and thank all of the staff who helped me to do my thing for so many years in these confines. Eternal thanks for that matter.
Hopefully they hang this somewhere special. Perhaps the Hard Rock Cafe should look into this along with the smaller neon logo we just shared above.
No one appearing tonight. No one coming soon. Sadness.
To learn more about the partnership between the Blue Note Media Group and Sony Music please click HERE to access the post that we shared about the news.
Back in April we had shared the at the time breaking news about Webster Hall being acquired by the folks who run Barclays Center and AEG Presents and if you missed that post please click HERE to be fully up on the story. It was a revelation that surely shocked the masses but not long after the announcement, it was pretty much steady as she goes and music loving folks just kept heading to the venues inside the building for the diverse variety of entertainment programming being offered. Those outside of NYC might not know that there were “3” distinct clubs making up Webster Hall with the massive Grand Ballroom, the midsize Marlin Room at Webster Hall and the intimate Studio at Webster Hall. As a patron and a scribe I’ve been to all three venues on numerous occasions but have to say that the kinds of shows I’ve been reporting on have generally been relegated to the two smaller sized rooms instead of the larger main space. So the curiosity in the back of many NYC patrons was when will the new ownership begin to show its presence and what will get done to the place as we know it and that stuff started making the rounds yesterday but I wanted to do some checking first before blindly sharing. The venues pending closure was addressed on social media by the General Manager Gerard McNamee with this statement:
Ladies and Gentlemen/Friends and Family: Sad but true, the legendary and world-famous Webster Hall has been sold and will close as we know it for its final club night on Saturday August 5th, 2017, which just so happens to be my birthday, which is certainly somehow apropos. It will be closed for an undisclosed period of time for demo, reno and transition to corporate ownership under Barclays/AEG/Bowery Presents. I highly recommend that you all stop by before the end of this era to pay your respects to the Ballingers and the building for providing us with a lifetimes worth of memories. There are only 12 club nights left. Please come celebrate our rich 25 year history of being the biggest, baddest and longest running nightclub in the history of New York City.
Now this is an interesting development, it seems as though the long-standing NYC concert venue has been sold. I’ve cited the breaking news from a Billboard.com posting since they would have the most up to date insight on the matter.
According to Billboard.com “After 27 years of operating Webster Hall, the Ballinger family is selling the 131-year-old Manhattan concert hall to AEG Presents and Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment. The two firms will assume operating rights, assets and the long-term lease from building owner Unity Gallega while Bowery Presents will take over booking and talent buying.” The rest of the article can be examined HERE.
PiercingMetal Thoughts: Well, my Dad always says that “the only constant is change” and this is never more apparent than in a city like this one. The readers of this website have been to Webster Hall almost religiously over the recent years since so many of “our” shows have been happening there in either the Grand Ballroom (which is the biggest space for you faraway readers), in the Marlin Room (middle sized space) or the smaller and more intimate space The Studio. I know that there is even a fourth space where performances can happen but I’ve only been in it once and I have no idea how I even found myself there at the time. It’s here that we’ve seen bands that might not have been able to even do a gig in our metropolis since they were not “in demand” enough for the larger venues around the city. Regional promoters were usually able to set up successful gigs of their own and not only help their own pockets but also the cause of the talent they booked. Speaking personally, I’ve always wanted to set up some kind of “PiercingMetal Presents” event in either The Studio or The Marlin Room but the timing was never there for me to properly set this up. My thoughts are that this kind of idea will be all but impossible now that there is going to be a larger, more corporate ownership. One has to wonder if the sort of live music programming that they were known for will be able to continue. If not, the Metal Scene’s vibrant underground will surely suffer and leave them with very few options in Manhattan. One has to also wonder if the later evening dance hall events of all shapes and formats will continue as well. There was some truly off the hook stuff going on at those if I can gauge it by the posts that my friends make on Facebook. The upside to the new ownership is the chance that a little cosmetic sprucing up can be done since that never hurts but I do fear a lot more sterility and corporate nature to what we will all experience and that will take some getting used to. Let’s hope for the best.
Let me know your thoughts on this shocking news down in the comments section below.
This is just a quick tip of the hat to a place that I didn’t get to as often as I would have liked but was a very good place for many of the local talent to rock the socks of their regional fans. Yes my readers after a dozen years on Eldridge Street, Fontana’s Bar has closed. We sure do seem to be hearing a lot of things like this.
The news about this coming to pass was circulated initially back in January and quotes culled from various owners stated how rent increases were the root cause of the closure. “We don’t want to do $16 cocktails, that’s not us. We want cheap beer and decent-priced drinks and people from the neighborhood” said an owner. Scanning around the net found this scribe learning that the Fontana’s Bar rent was over $30K a month and that is just not easily sustainable. I only ever went to Fontana’s a few times but the space was huge and had a couple of bars inside it along with a spacious basement where they often let the Metal bands play. One thing I had always wanted to do was put together some kind of showcase with bands that I believed in from around our area but the time was never there for me to properly put it together. I’ll miss the space being here as an option for such an idea. Like I said, there have been many closures around our city along with moves of long established locations. The only constant is change my father always says and while I don’t always like this being the case, he is absolutely right about it. Goodbye Fontana’s Bar and thanks for giving patrons and the tried and true rockers a place to unwind for a reasonable amount of cash. You will be missed. Thanks to my friend Jay for the photo which he snapped via mobile since I could not get to the bar for the closing events. Fans of the bar are welcome to leave us comments below on their favorite times and memories about the place. Bring it on Legions.
Live music fans of NYC are still reeling from the news about the pending closure of the Roseland Ballroom and then it appeared as though the Living Room on the Lower East Side was shutting its long established space when word started hitting the web about the sudden closure of Sullivan Hall, a great concert space down on Sullivan Street in the West Village. While this was not the biggest proponent of the kind of Metal shows that I regularly attend, I had a lot of great experiences here and really enjoyed the venue and my adventures there. Continue reading Another NYC Venue Down; Sullivan Hall Has Closed (11/13/2013)→