Earlier this month, a mysterious message appeared on the Bluebird's MySpace page: "Last Bluebird Show Ever" -- followed by a note that says, "Closed for Remodel." Because the town needs another club closed like it needs a hole in the head, I got in touch with proprietor Mike Cracchiolo to get the scoop.
Annie Zaleski: I see that you guys are remodeling next year. What exactly does this entail?
Mike Cracchiolo: It's a pretty extensive list, but arguably the most important development is that we will be building a permanent, full-service bar further from the stage. The stage itself will be raised, there will be some additional soundproofing done, the whole room is getting a new paint job, etc. Not to mention a sign out front! Since we opened, there has been an ever-growing list of upgrades and enhancements that we have wanted to make, and it has ultimately been the fact that most of these changes would require us to close down in order to get them done. Up until now, that hasn't been a real possibility.
It is probably easiest to explain that the reason we're able to finally make the renovation happen is because there are some major changes taking place in the ownership and corporate structure of the venue. I don't think it's appropriate to get into the specifics of that, but I think it's fair to say say that all parties involved are happy with the changes and excited about moving forward.
How long are you going to be closed? When are you going to re-open?
Our last event will be the Inaugural Ball on Saturday, January 17, which will be a bar only event with DJs. The last actual show will be the night before on Friday, January 16. We will re-open the doors to the public on Saturday, January 31, which will be an open house to let people get a chance to check the place out before we start doing shows again, which will happen around the first weekend of February. It looks like our first show is probably going to feature Gil Mantera's Party Dream, which is perfect because they are the consummate party band and one of my favorite acts from the past year.
What do you hope to achieve with these changes?
Well, since we will now be open on a regular schedule, ultimately we want the bar to be more comfortable and engaging... a spot where people can hang out whether there are shows or not. Going forward we are going to be more than just a rock venue. This isn't to say that we aren't going to keep shows as our focus; in fact, we hope that the bar business will help
improve the turnout at shows and allow us to be a little more aggressive with the shows we're able to bring in. All of the efforts we are making are things we envisioned from the outset, but were unable to make happen for various reasons.
As you reflect on the first year and a half you've been open, how do you want to improve the club in the future?
Aside from long-needed physical improvements to the space, we're going to be revamping our efforts in the area of booking and placing a much greater emphasis on promotion. There were a lot of policies and practices we wanted to put in place at the Bluebird that never really got off the ground because our resources were so limited. Now that the situation is changing, we will finally be able to take the approach we wanted to take all along, as well as providing greater incentive for local support bands and smaller touring acts. In a way, we have been very fortunate to have made some stumbles over the past year and a half, as we are now able to make a fresh start from a much better perspective, not just in terms of the room or the schedule but also in the way that we work together.
What other changes/modifications, if any, are in store for the club in 2009, in terms of business-type things (i.e., new website, street team)?
The biggest change is that we will be open as a bar five nights a week, show or no show. The website will see an overhaul, and a street team is also going to be put in place. Another major change is that I will be handling the booking and Mike Tomko will now be focusing on promotion. Tom Moslander will be joining the team as head of the door staff and manager, while Jimmy Vavak will remain in place as bar manager. Really the only things areas that won't see some degree of change are the PA system and the stage. Jerry Boschert will still be in charge of sound.
There have been so many openings and closures in the past year. How do you see the club fitting into the local venue landscape in 2009?
My hope is that we will fit in the same way as we have in the past, but bigger and better. The places that have come and gone over the past year have all had their own focus, and I don't think it's one that has overlapped with ours. We are still looking at places like Rocket Bar, Mississippi Nights, and the Hi-Pointe for inspiration.
Anything else you want to add?
Yeah. It's not gonna be called the Bluebird anymore. For all intents and purposes this will be an entirely new club, so it will get an entirely new name. We'll be making the full announcement in the next week or so.
-- Annie Zaleski