One less concert venue in St. John’s

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Club One closure affects touring musical artists, cover bands

St. John’s music venue Club One’s impending closure to make way for a Hooters restaurant will leave musicians and promoters with one less option for booking mid-sized concerts.

Chris Kirby of the Chris Kirby and the Marquee band performs in 2013 during the Second annual Telegram Stars for Warm Hearts benefit for Iris Kirby House concert at the St. John's Arts & Culture Centre. Kirby was surprised by the closure of Club One, a venue he and his band enjoyed playing in. — File photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Earlier this week, Club One owner John Cook told The Telegram the last year has not been a good one for the business. A Hooters restaurant is expected to open in the George Street building in June.

With a capacity of 600 concertgoers, Club One has hosted a variety of touring musical acts over the years, including Joel Plaskett, Wintersleep, Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan, Xzibit, Matt Mays, The Sheepdogs, Sloan and The Proclaimers.

The Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival and the George Street Festival have used Club One in years past. DJs and cover bands are also known to play gigs at the downtown St. John’s venue.

Local singer-songwriter Chris Kirby has performed multiple times at Club One and was surprised to hear it was closing.

“It was a great room to play in,” said Kirby, who regularly performs in St. John’s with his backing group The Marquee.

“It had great sound, and it had some of the best gear in town, that’s for sure, and they always had the best sound guys working there, and the staff was always really great.”

Brent McNamara booked shows for electronic and hip-hop acts at Club One through his company Brent Mac Events.

 “It definitely sucks to see a venue like Club One go,” he told The Telegram. “When you’re talking mid-sized venues, there is not many options left in the city, so it’s certainly tough.”

In McNamara’s case, he still expects to book lots of shows downtown at The Rockhouse, another mid-sized venue that does not hold quite as many people as Club One.

“The CLB is another good venue,” said McNamara. “People will start to see more shows from all different types of genres at that venue.”

Kirby expects touring acts that used to rely on Club One will have to consider booking multiple shows in St. John’s at smaller venues like The Rockhouse in order to make trips to Newfoundland feasible.

“The theatres are definitely a little bit more to rent,” he said.

“St. John’s cries out for more and more concerts and current bands to come through, but the reality is that it’s really expensive for them to get here, and the market is very small compared to other cities. They’d have to take a big hit in their budget to make it here. As a touring artist, I can vouch for that, because it costs so much for me to get off the island. I can only imagine how people wonder whether it’s worth it to spend the money to get here.”

 

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: The Telegram, The Rockhouse, The Marquee Brent Mac Events

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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  • JMAP
    January 31, 2014 - 12:27

    Club One mgmt never advertised well....it was lost or invisible to most people travelling on George St. The whole building has a crazy setup and they charge too much cover for what they offer. We need a classy bar for middle-aged people that offers Jazz, Blues, Rock & Roll, Country, ....a decent and clean spot with tables, where you could also get tea/coffee. The Rock House is an ideal space and clean, perhaps they might consider this.....it would go over really well....we "desperately" need more than Irish and the few others that are there now. Please consider it.

  • George Street
    January 31, 2014 - 09:41

    No worries. Hollerers will be bigger and better.

  • Brad
    January 30, 2014 - 13:20

    I liked Club One and it's a shame they are closing. I am not surprised though because the few times I have been in it the past year, there has been barely anybody in the venue. They tried to start performances earlier and that did not work out well either. Unfortunately, for anything else they will basically have to use the Rockhouse and I can't stand that place. Nice venue, but the staff and drink prices are awful.

  • JD
    January 30, 2014 - 08:51

    Indeed. But paint it as you wish Club One was always just a typical George St Watering hole and booze factory with a stage and performance gear. Its not like the LSPU Hall, Holy Heart or similar. I remember being at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square and seeing the restaurant with a stage in it. Granted, it was quite a bit bigger. Why can't there be performances in places other than a building with 3 or 4 bars. Maybe its a money thing with a percentage of the door going to the performers and such. I am not saying that we don't need another indoor performance venue, but something that generates money and traffic to the area all day and not just after happy hour can't be all bad.