One less concert venue in St. John’s

Club One closure affects touring musical artists, cover bands

Published on January 30, 2014
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

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.

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.”

Twitter: @TeleAndrew