Jimmy’s Music Club Needs To Reopen

Thank goodness I’m not in government. I just don’t have the patience for it.

Sometimes the evidence is just so overwhelming that some things are just right and some things are just plain wrong, that it boggles my mind why it takes months and years to make a simple decision.Yes, I know this is a democracy and all voices must be heard. But sometimes the incredibly slow wheels of government boggle my mind.

Case in point: Jimmy’s Club.If you’re read OffBeat over the past quarter century, you’ll remember that Jimmy’s Club, located at 8200 Willow Street, was a regular advertiser in this magazine. Jimmy Anselmo presented music, of all kinds, for the better part of a quarter century. In the past ten years, Anselmo got out of the club business and leased the property to several operators, the last of which was The Frat House (not exactly known for its music, but certainly known for its, shall we say, alcoholic beverages and young crowd). Before I go on, let me say that I saw some amazing shows at Jimmy’s: everyone from Earl King to the Radiators, to Joan Baez an everything in between. I was really sad to see Jimmy’s close its doors.

Jimmy's poster by the inimitable Bunny Matthews.

But I can tell you—from experience working with music club operators for over 25 years—it’s a really tough business. Jimmy was tired, and he needed a break. The Frat House closed; Anselmo has been working for months with a partner to re-open Jimmy’s as a music club. There was a special event there to celebrate the club and the great bands that played there in December. Everyone in the music community, and a lot of people who spent formative years in college experiencing Jimmy’s, were thrilled that it was reopening.

But there’s a problem. For over two years, the City Council has imposed a moratorium on granting liquor licenses in an area uptown that includes the Jimmy’s location. The City Council had the authority to impose the moratorium for a year, and also has the option to renew it for two 180-day periods. That period is over on February 4. However, City Councilman Susan Guidry and the rest of the council want to not only renew the moratorium but to extend it two more blocks to Birch Street. This would essentially prevent Anselmo and his partners from re-opening an historic New Orleans music club.All this does is to stall an inevitable decision on the part of City Planning and City Council, and allow neighbors to be able to weigh in on the proposal—like they haven’t had a chance

I’ve heard for years that there have been stops in decisions until it can be comsidered in a new (proposed) Comprehensive  Zoning Ordinance.

People: the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance probably isn’t going to be passed in my lifetime.

I think using this as an excuse to stall a decision needs to stop. We’ll be hearing this excuse forever…and nothing will be done. It seems to me that the Council, for the most part, is swayed almost always towards the side of residents. Maybe it’s because neighborhood associations have more clout, vote-wise, with Council representatives than neighborhood businesses, which is a shame. It’s just a fact that where there’s music, there’s almost always alcohol; this is the way that virtually all music clubs operate. They need the bar revenue in order to support  the music. Jimmy’s is just as much a part of the uptown music scene as Tipitina’s, or the Maple Leaf.  It’s missed; it’s historic; it gives New Orleans musicians another uptown venue in which to play; Jimmy’s has played an important part in New Orleans music history since 1978.  Jimmy’s Music Club should be able to acquire a liquor license, which will then allow it to operate as a music venue. The former can’t happen without the latter.Not allowing Jimmy’s to open is an egregious mistake on the part of the City Council.  We need our Jimmy’s back.
On another note: the property at 514-16 Frenchmen Street, the Laborde Building, which was proposed as a large music club, bar and restaurant to be named Bamboula’s, has failed to get the support of the city planning and zoning. The Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association (FMIA)— the Marigny’s neighborhood association—came out against the project after the developers failed to get the proper work permits for renovations and were shut down twice by the city. Frenchmen Street has a special zoning that in theory only allows 20 percent of businesses with an alcoholic beverage license to present live music. All others must operate as a restaurant and are theoretically only supposed to present acoustic music. (This percentage, however, is a target, not a requirement). At this point over 35 percent of the  Frenchmen Street businesses have music. The FMIA protested on these grounds. In an interesting twist, businesses already operating on Frenchmen, for the most part, opposed the development, citing its large size, the increased traffic, parking issues, sanitation and policing that such a large music club would create. “We don’t want Frenchmen to become another Bourbon Street,” they say.

Amen.

 

 

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  • Kevin Combs

    Thanks Jan. Good luck to Jimmy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rexrose Rex Rose

    There’s a Facebook group now, so join up and show your support for Jimmy! https://www.facebook.com/groups/568001243228042/?fref=ts

  • http://twitter.com/AhContraire AhContraire

    If Tipitina’s can’t compete w/ the House of Blues, how can Jimmy’s? All the “good” acts want to go to the House of Blues as musicians also have bills to pay and now even Tipitina’s is financially suffering.

    When a Music Venue financially suffers, they do all sorts of things to make ends meet. i.e. more beer, loosen the rules, book any music act to bring in the crowd even if it’s the gangster or frat type crowd as they buy alcohol.

    It says at the Jimmy’s Music Club website, that it was purchased from a run down “wino” paradise, Al’s Pool Hall in 1976. But some time
    later, perhaps 2000 or after, it became the Frat House. The question is, “What really caused Jimmy’s to close in 2000?”

    There are only so many MUSIC ACTS to go around and even the good music acts have only a couple of good years. Notice how all the New
    Orleans musicians have to LEAVE New Orleans to make a living.(And could Jimmy’s really pay musicians more than say House of Blues and
    if so, how much more?)

    Adding another local music venue to New Orleans is IMO, financially ridiculous when even Tipitina’s can’t compete with those venues downtown.

    You would think Tipitina’s could at least make their building look better from the outside, but they, after 30 years, appears they can’t
    afford it. And it appears even though it says it’s smoke free, the employees and wait staff do not enforce the smoking ban and there’s
    weed smoke during acts. (Typical New Orleans drug addicts and weed heads.)

    Plus, the good musicians don’t need LOCAL or PHYSICAL VENUES like they did in the 80’s and 90’s to showcase their music. They now have iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, etc to get the word out and hence have better bargaining power with local music venues and even festivals. That means, music venues receive much LESS profit from acts than they did in the 80’s, 90’s etc.

    52 WEEKS OUT OF THE YEAR
    And in the overall yearly music view perspective, there are TOO many festivals in the New Orleans area that play live music. The public
    audience, overall, needs and wants a break from LIVE music, festivals, sports events and have relaxing peace and quiet weekends. That’s
    why music venues are suffering and resort to more alcohol and gangster, hip hop music acts to pay the bills.

    Do you really think the public wants or can listen to LIVE music or watch football games, championships games, movies, Mardi Gras, attend festivals 52 weeks out of the year and AFFORD IT?

    The House of Blues have been in New Orleans for a long time, but is the French Quarter a better place since they have been there? They may not cause many problems and are properly run a club with no complaints, but does it make New Orleans financially better? Hard to tell after 20 or more years.

    Heck, the parent company of House of Blues, Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. (LYV – NYSE) appears to have taken a 163 million dollar loss the last 12 months.

    The 80’s and 90’s had a totally different music environment than it does now. Music venues have to compete with festivals, iTunes, Facebook and Twitter and don’t near have the bargaining power with musicians like they did 20 years ago.

    Too afraid to follow me on Twitter?
    You can still bookmark me on Twitter at
    @AhContraire

    .

  • http://twitter.com/AhContraire AhContraire

    LIVE MUSIC CLUB FINANCIAL FEASIBILITY
    House of Blues versus Starbucks from a financial point of view.

    HOUSE of BLUES – Live Nation Entertainment (LYV – NYSE)
    http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=lyv&ql=1
    (Market Cap 1.9B)

    And by the way, the “neighborhood” would probably be more open, as well as, prefer something along the lines of say, a coffee shop, which, by the way, appear to be far more profitable to the owners/investors, as well as good for the neighborhood and city from a tax dollars view. Starbucks also has one of of the best health care plans for both it’s full time and part time employees. How many bars and live music venues can even offer a health care plan? Dive bars can’t even fix the building. Do you really think they can even afford to offer a health care plan?

    STAR BUCKS (SBUX – NASDAQ)
    (Market Cap 41.2B)
    http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=SBUX

    FINANCIAL DISTRICTS:
    Areas with Starbuck’s on every corner are typically in “financial” districts.

    GHETTOS:
    Areas with Live Music/Bars/Lounges on every corner (or where alcohol is primarily served) are typically in ghettos.

    COSTS OF CROWD CONTROL:
    Just so you know, Live Music Venue and Bars don’t really make money like they used. A lot of the tips and sales revenue is used to pay for “Bouncers”, Off-Duty Police, On-Duty Police, and security equipment and monitoring as compared to the 80’s and 90’s. Live Music Venues and Bars now spend a lot of money on Crowd Control; hence, that’s why many are broke, the buildings are run down (a.k.a. dive bars), or are looking to get out of the business.

    ADVERTISING DOLLARS:
    And LIVE MUSIC VENUES have to CONSTANTLY ADVERTISE their new acts, versus say Starbucks, PJ’s, Community Coffee, Seattle’s Best Coffee who DO NOT really need to advertise.

    The cities also have to spend money on “rehab” and supporting single moms cause the father can’t hold a job cause he’s at the bar drinking with his friends.

    From a financial perspective, Live Music Venues and Bars are all BIG TALK and small bank accounts. At the end of the day, the bouncers, police, crowd control, advertising, musicians’ fees, etc still need to be paid.
    – – – – – – – – – –

    Too afraid to follow me on Twitter?
    You can still bookmark me on Twitter at
    @AhContraire

    .

    • Roland Beauvais

      That’s a lot of baseless BS Mr. AhContraire.

      You may want to live in a city filled with corporate coffee shops, corporate, super expensive, live venues and all but that doesn’t mean it’s the way of life that other choose to follow here.

      And, this include perfectly respectable people, despite what kind of cliche you use to describe them.

      By the way, you can totally live in New Orleans and have tons of Starbucks around and the House of Blues nearby. Just go live in the CBD….

      • http://twitter.com/AhContraire AhContraire

        “You may want to live in a city filled with corporate coffee shops,
        corporate, super expensive, live venues and all but that doesn’t mean
        it’s the way of life that other choose to follow here.”

        See all those people who arrive after Hurricane Katrina that made New Orleans population go up? Guess what, they came from places with even more corporate coffee shops and they had GOOD PAYING JOBS that can AFFORD what you call SUPER EXPENSIVE.

        The reason why folks in NOLA think things are SUPER EXPENSIVE is because they have LOW PAYING JOBS and everything is super expensive to them

    • QuitTalkingOutOfYourButt

      That part of uptown already has at least 4 coffee shops. One of them is a Starbucks.

      • http://twitter.com/AhContraire AhContraire

        And guess what? Those coffee shops are all packed. Pay taxes. Cause zero crimes.

        And by the way, that part of Uptown also has dozens of restaurants and the ratio of visitors/residents to coffee shops is low when compared to ratio for restaurants.

  • Roland Beauvais

    That’s a lot of baseless BS Mr. AhContraire.

    You may want to live in a city filled with corporate coffee shops, corporate, super expensive, live venues and all but that doesn’t mean it’s the way of life that other choose to follow here.

    And, this include perfectly respectable people, despite what kind of cliche you use to describe them.

    By the way, you can totally live in New Orleans and have tons of Starbucks around and the House of Blues nearby. Just go live in the CBD….

  • QuitTalkingOutOfYourButt

    That part of uptown already has at least 4 coffee shops. One of them is a Starbucks.

  • http://www.twitter.com/AhContraire AhContraire

    “You may want to live in a city filled with corporate coffee shops,
    corporate, super expensive, live venues and all but that doesn’t mean
    it’s the way of life that other choose to follow here.”

    See all those people who arrive after Hurricane Katrina that made New Orleans population go up? Guess what, they came from places with even more corporate coffee shops and they had GOOD PAYING JOBS that can AFFORD what you call SUPER EXPENSIVE.

    The reason why folks in NOLA think things are SUPER EXPENSIVE is because they have LOW PAYING JOBS and everything is super expensive to them

  • http://www.twitter.com/AhContraire AhContraire

    And guess what? Those coffee shops are all packed. Pay taxes. Cause zero crimes.

    And by the way, that part of Uptown also has dozens of restaurants and the ratio of visitors/residents to coffee shops is low when compared to ratio for restaurants.