By Adam Waldman
The Covid-19 pandemic brought the country to a screeching halt. Live music venues were hit particularly hard by mandated closings, especially smaller independents. The members of the National Independent Venue Association have banded together (with a Save Our Stages campaign) to ask the government for targeted legislation to help them survive. But government intervention may not be enough to save venues that are steeped in history, and remain closed through no fault of their own.
New York City was the original epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States. The early shutdown in March, which still continues to this day, has put the existence of New York City’s oldest rock club, The Bitter End, in jeopardy. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help this legendary club keep its doors open.
Imagine being given the rare opportunity to see music legends like Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, James Taylor, Neil Diamond, Joe Walsh, and countless others in an intimate room that holds around 200 people. They have all graced The Bitter End stage with the iconic brick wall backdrop, as have comedy legends like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Albert Brooks and more.
Established in 1961, The Bitter End is more than just the oldest rock club in NYC. It is a piece of history that needs to be preserved, not only for the sake of the music, but for the city itself. The city that took a devastating blow on 9/11, but came back stronger than ever, has become increasingly homogenized in recent years. Countless local bars, restaurants, and clubs have been priced out of the market by opportunistic landlords catering to large corporate tenants with deep pockets.
Greenwich Village is a world famous destination because of historic establishments like The Bitter End on Bleecker St. and the surrounding neighborhood. If places like this cease to exist, then NYC will eventually become nothing more (from a cultural perspective) than Anytown, USA.
A bustling city, with a palpable energy that you must experience to fully appreciate, loses much of its charm and luster if the shopping and entertainment options get reduced to the same corporate chains that can be found in suburban shopping centers and interchangeable malls across America.
The Bitter End is less than three miles from where the most devastating attack on U.S. soil took place. After 9/11, it was hard to imagine lower Manhattan ever returning to its original glory. But it did because of a never-say-die attitude, and the fortitude of a city that bent, but refused to break at the hands of an unspeakable act. To see The Bitter End potentially being brought down by a microscopic invisible enemy that has spread across the globe after all that it has survived since 1961 would be absolutely tragic.
By all rights, The Bitter End should be basking in the glow of its 60-year anniversary in 2021, not looking back on its illustrious history wondering what might have been if not for a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
The Bitter End has thrived because it is a place for artists to showcase their talents in an intimate room to appreciative audiences. For the cost of a nominal cover charge and couple of drinks, it is a place to make memories. I’ve made plenty of them myself there over the years.
To make this fundraiser a success, and save a beloved establishment, all that it will take is a small donation from the multitudes of people who have made memories over the past six decades at The Bitter End.
Anything that you can contribute to the GoFundMe campaign would help. If you can’t afford to contribute financially, please consider sharing this story to help spread the word. Every little bit helps.
Thank you for your support!