Michael O'Hara in his heyday with The Sheiks.

Another One Bites The Dust

Ole Man River’s, a seminal club (and probably the only club of major importance in Avondale!) will be soon be demolished. “It’s been in bad repair for a long time,” Deanne Bernard, whose family owned the venue. “It finally was falling apart and was condemned.”

The venue first opened in October 1977. It only was open for five years, closing in summer, 1982, but in that time hosted acts like Prince (!), Siouxsie & the Banshees, Percy Sledge, Todd Rundgren, Allen Toussaint, the Sheiks, Dr. John, Iggy Pop, the Cramps, K-Doe and many more.

Bernard, the sister of musician and production company owner Sherman Bernard, Jr. says the building will come down before the end of the year.

Another one bites the dust.

Many music clubs have closed in New Orleans since OffBeat has been around: Jimmy’s, Muddy Water’s, Café Brasil, Margaritaville, and of course the Funky Butt, Donna’s, Joe’s Cozy Corner, and more.

I’ve said this hundreds of times, but I’ll say it one more: in a city that’s known world-wide for its music, but the majority of New Orleans citizens do not comprehend that this city is revered by music lovers everywhere, and we make it extremely difficult for musicians to play on the streets, for new music venues to open, and existing venues to operate. In the Mitch Landrieu years, laws related to curfews, brass bands, culture and music venue operators haven’t been strictly enforced, which has caused confusion and anger. But, at least the current administration respects that music is important to the city. They certainly haven’t done a perfect job, but there has been an effort, despite the pushback from groups like the Vieux Carre Property Owners and Residents Association, other neighborhood groups, and lawsuits that have been foisted upon music venues by potential culture-killers like the redoubtable Stewart Smith and his allies.

It’s truly ridiculous this city will not take itself seriously as a “music city”—like others, from Austin, to Nashville, to Seattle—have done, and take steps to preserve and promote its music culture via laws and ordinances that nurture its music and musicians. Why can’t there be music clubs on North Rampart Street? Why can’t the city create laws requiring music venues to have sound reduction systems inside the venues and offer a tax incentive program to do so?

When will we ever learn?

  • Neil Ferguson

    To be fair, this same problem has been happening in Austin for a long time, if not more so. As someone who has lived in Austin for 10 years and travels to New Orleans often, I think NOLA has a far more vibrant and sustaining culture.

  • HolyNOLA

    “we make it extremely difficult for musicians to play on the streets, for
    new music venues to open, and existing venues to operate.”

    1) The FQ and Marigny are not lacking for street musicians.

    2) The Orpheum, Joy, Civic, the Saenger, Publiq House, Gasa Gasa… all opened in the last few years.

    3) Name one venue that has closed because of the City.

    However, I do agree with you on the N. Rampart St. practical moratorium on new venues. I was involved with N. Rampart Main St. for a little while, and the powers that be over there did NOT want live music, they wanted galleries and such like Julia St. and neighborhood retail. N. Rampart needs live music, obviously. The Black Penny seems to be doing OK, but I haven’t been on N. Rampart in a while.