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February 12, 2011
Every year The Bottom Line gets lots of e-mails. These e-mails are varied: Are you any closer to reopening? Have you finally given up? When is the Box Set going to be released? Will it ever be released? Do you have archival video footage for sale? Do you have old ticket stubs for sale?
Some e-mails share memories and pictures taken at the club. Some offer ideas to "take The Bottom Line into the new millennium." Others offer very creative ideas for attracting possible investors and financing, as well as suggestions for keeping The Bottom Line's name in the public eye until we reopen. These e-messages offer much appreciated emotional and motivational support. There are even e-mails from people who don't have a clue that we're closed, such as touring bands who want to play the club and patrons who want to make a reservation for the first weekend in March. ("And by the way, who'll be appearing then?")
We love and appreciate getting e-mails. We try to respond to each one, and I do mean every one. What I've noticed during this last year is an increased concern that we've given up, because so much time has gone by and nothing seems to be happening. This conclusion seems to have been reached because there are no daily, weekly, or monthly posts on our Web page detailing our progress. Many people have become disheartened because in the age of Facebook and Twitter they're used to getting moment by moment updates. Therefore, if nothing is posted it seems that nothing is happening. "Come on, do something already," is a refrain I've read more and more this year. And so, on the eve of this anniversary, the message is: Don't lose hope because we haven't. We're still committed to reopening. We've never wanted to post anything prematurely because of how tenuous negotiations can be. Posting something one month, only to take it down or negate it the next, would not only disappoint you, but magnify our own disappointment.
However, we're posting now, and here are our updates::
The Box Set
Three years ago a record company approached Stanley and me to see if we would be interested in releasing a CD of live performances from The Bottom Line. We were not only open to the idea, we suggested releasing not one but four CDs as a Box Set to be called "Live From The Bottom Line: The First Thirty Years". As the project proceeded, issues developed concerning the clearances of performance rights. Currently the Box Set is in limbo until these issues can be resolved.
The Search For The Club
Over the last four years, we have been so close to a deal that landlords presented us with leases all that remained was negotiating the lease. However, each time that last step turned out to be more prolonged and difficult than we anticipated (one negotiation lasted for a year and a half). We've been very close to an agreement four times, and each time the deal couldn't close. These negotiations are difficult and time consuming. Until we're sure that a deal can close, we're hesitant to post a false positive. But there's one thing you should be certain of: Just because nothing's posted, doesn't mean that nothing is happening. The one thing Stanley and I are certain of is the process goes on. To paraphrase Arnold in The Terminator, "We'll be back."
Keep the faith. Keep the e-mails coming.
Allan and Stanley
February 12, 2010
Several months ago I called Kate McGarrigle, after hearing from a close friend that Kate had terminal cancer.
Kate, Stanley, and I had a relationship that went back almost 40 years. In 1972 Stanley and I were booking Folk City and we had hired Kate for one of her first New York City dates.
When I called Kate to find out how she was feeling, we shared a great moment reminiscing about that early gig. We laughed about Folk City owner Mike Porco's unorthodox philosophy of when to tune and not tune the piano, which I faithfully delivered as a very affectionate imitation of Mike. We talked about how long we knew each other, and the fact that we were both in our seventh decade. I told her I had recently been unpacking some of the sixty-odd boxes I brought home from The Bottom Line and discovered a wonderful photo of me visiting her and Anna backstage the last time they appeared at the club.
As our conversation was ending, I remarked that although we were in our 60s I would always see her in my mind's eye as a young girl in her 20s, at sound check nervously sitting at the piano in Folk City, trying to get her bearings while her manager, Milt Kramer, stood on a rickety ladder obsessively focusing the one light fixture that would double as a spot for her big New York City show.
She laughed and said I was kind. I wished her well.
My old friend Kate passed away at 63 years of age on January 18, 2010.
As I thought about Kate, I flashed on Martha Wainwright who looks so much like a vision of her young mother on stage at The Bottom Line telling the audience that over the years she had been to the club so many times to see her parents perform that she felt like she grew up at The Bottom Line.
I also thought about many other links from over the past thirty years. In the same box where I found the picture of Kate and Anna, there was a personal note from Rufus that had come with an early demo he sent me.
Today, February 12, 2010, I find myself thinking about ties that bind. Running and co-owning The Bottom Line with Stanley for 30 years was, for us, a lifetime commitment to relationships that stretched over generations and careers. It wasn't about one-night stands. It was about every night, and it touched the lives of thousands of musicians as they touched ours as well.
But these bonds reach beyond the performers. This network of interconnections extends to the thousands of patrons who repeatedly passed over the threshold at West Fourth and Mercer. What has resonated with Stanley and me is that for many of you, our relationship didn't end on January 22, 2004. During this past difficult year, we've been impressed (and deeply touched) by those of you who keep in touch by e-mail, and those of you who have offered to share your talents and business relationships in an effort to help us reopen The Bottom Line.
One new advocate, also a longtime patron, put a smile on my face for an entire day after he explained over lunch that he'd seen so many shows at the club that he could tell exactly where he'd be sitting by his place on line when he arrived at the club. This former customer (and now new friend) has been extremely generous with his experience, contacts, and time. All he's asked in return is a table on opening night.
To every one of you who have been supportive, we can't thank you enough. But, hey, isn't that what having a history together is all about? You don't forget someone who has meant something to you because you haven't seen them in a while. Eileen and I still call and sing Happy Birthday to Loudon Wainwright, Jane Siberry, and David Johansen every year.
We miss you guys.
Keep the faith.
Allan and Stanley
February 12, 2009
Since October, we've gotten an increase in e-mails asking about the progress of "Live From The Bottom Line - The First 30 Years," the four-CD box set that will be released through E-1 Entertainment (Formerly Koch Entertainment). How quickly the box set moves forward depends on how fast the tracks can be cleared by E-1. This is a long and arduous process which is akin, in some cases, to horse trading. There are approximately 60 musical tracks, a quarter of which have already been cleared. Stay tuned! This live eclectic stew is worth the wait.
Now on to the big question. What is happening with The Bottom Line? To help provide a backdrop for our answer, I thought I'd use a joke from The Cab Driver's Joke Book Volume 2, written by Jim Pietsch, a former employee of The Bottom Line.
A surgeon, an architect, and an economist are having a discussion, and they begin to argue about whose profession is the oldest. The surgeon condescendingly says to the other two men, "Well, you know that God took a rib out of Adam to make Eve, so I think that it's rather obvious that surgery is the oldest profession."
"Ah," says the architect, "but before that, out of total chaos, God made the heavens and the earth. So I think it's quite obvious that architecture is the oldest profession."
The economist folds his arms and smiles serenely. "And where," he asks, "do you think the total chaos came from?"
The Bottom Line closed on January 22, 2004. Two months later, Stanley and I received a financial commitment that would enable us to reopen the club. For the next four years, we searched for a space, both geographically and physically, that could be our new home.
During the first year of our search, we found a special place that had enormous possibilities. But after a year and half of phone calls, lawyer's meetings, and creative musings on extremely complicated real-estate issues, the deal could not be consummated.
Meanwhile, as the real-estate market prospered, it became harder and harder to find not only the right place, but the right deal. Areas of the city that were formerly priced between $15 to $25 a square foot, were now being priced between $50 and $60 a square foot. It was very frustrating. We had a partner who guaranteed a new beginning, yet the right place was not to be found. The situation reminded me of something Stanley's father used to say: "Sometimes you have the money and you just can't spend it."
Then (ironically on January 22, 2008), as a result of an article written about us in The New York Times we found a place that could work and a landlord who wanted The Bottom Line as a tenant. For the first time in four years, the discussions were not primarily about the value of each and every square inch of usable retail space. Miraculously, we were talking to a landlord who thought providing a home for The Bottom Line took precedence over $ per square foot.
We settled into serious negotiations in July, and by Thanksgiving we had a deal memo and the first draft of a new lease.
Since I was a kid, I've heard my Mom repeat an old Yiddish expression that when translated into English basically says, "Man makes plans and God laughs."
As we were negotiating our new lease and making plans for the next twenty years, the bottom was rapidly falling out of the current economy, touching everything in its path, including our new partner's finances.
If you were to conceptualize the situation we are now in as a joke, it would go something like this:
COSMIC VOICE: Well, Allan and Stanley, I have good news and bad news.
ALLAN: What's the good news?
COSMIC VOICE: I've found an ideal location for you. It's 23,000 square feet, three blocks from public transportation, plenty of parking available, and a landlord who thinks The Bottom Line is an iconic institution and should have a permanent home.
STANLEY: What's the bad news?
COSMIC VOICE: It's 1929!
When we had the money, we could not find the place or make the deal, in a large part due to the economic environment. Now we've found the place, but have lost the money as a result of the economy. Talk about irony!
However, the journey goes on. But it appears the object of the quest has now shifted from a capital location to the location of capital.
The search continues....
Keep the faith
Allan and Stanley
February 12, 2008
On December 16, 2007, the Sunday City Section of The New York Times, ran a piece about the on going search for a new site for The Bottom Line.
The feature reported that we were looking in Brooklyn as a result of the continued e-mail urging of Don Duggan, a Brooklyn resident and long time patron of The Bottom Line. Duggan, a veteran concert warrior, was so committed to the club reopening, volunteered his time to drive around Brooklyn seeking potential sites for us to look at. To some, Duggan's commitment might seem over the top, but Stanley and I are happy to tell you, it's consistent with a network of people who miss The Bottom Line, want it to reopen and have been doing anything they can to make that hope a reality.
Recently, Lori Cheatle, the producer of a documentary about the search for a new Bottom Line, said that she had been impressed to discover a community of people with no vested financial interest, who just want to be helpful in finding us a new home. It is this encouragement that has sustained us. Today marks the 34th anniversary of the opening of The Bottom Line, and although the club has been closed for four years, as today's calendar page flips forward, hopefully, it brings us one day closer to its reopening. In other developments, last year's anniversary message began with the news that we had just signed a deal with Koch Entertainment to release a box set of live performances.
Here is where we're at one year later: The box set will contain four CDs and will be called "Live From The Bottom Line - The First 30 Years." It is produced by Gregg Bendian with contributions from the late Hank Medress. At this moment our intent is to sequence the tracks chronologically starting in 1974 and ending in 2004. While all the tracks have not yet been selected and approved, the four CDs reflect the diversity of music we presented over 30 years. The CDs have been assembled with an eye toward providing a snapshot of a time and place, and contain, not only music, but a variety of radio commercials as well. Viewed as a whole, these four CDs (currently 59 music tracks) provide a glimpse of the history that transpired on that corner of West Fourth and Mercer.
Stanley and I always loved operating a mom and pop business. We not only had long and meaningful relationships with the artists who worked there, we had a history with our patrons as well. We know that there are people who value that intimate connection. The daily e-mails that we get tell us we are not wrong. The Don Duggans of the world are abundant and are eagerly waiting for a place that they can once again call home. Stanley and I are doing everything that we can to make that happen.
Keep the faith.
Allan and Stanley
February 12, 2007
For the first time in three years, we have some good news to share - not the news you have been waiting for, but good news nevertheless. Last week, Stanley and I signed a deal with Koch Records to produce a box set of live shows from the archives of The Bottom Line. This box set will be coproduced with our longtime friend and copartner in Bottom Line Records, the storied record producer Hank Medress.
It is ironic that we finalized this deal somewhere between the anniversaries of when the club closed (January 22, 2004) and when it originally opened (February 12, 1974). As a result of all three things coinciding, I've been flooded with memories of Bottom Line shows and the unique personal moments I shared with a lot of the artists who performed at the club.
Everybody who worked at The Bottom Line had his or her favorite list of performers. On my personal list was Townes Van Zandt. Townes was not only a songwriter's songwriter, he was an amazing character. My Townes moment came at the end of the night, when the gig was over and I was getting ready to pay him. He walked into our upstairs office, sat down at my desk (I was sitting at Stanley's desk), and with a beguiling smile and a twinkle in his eye, asked if I had a deck of cards anywhere.
"Stanley probably has one in his top desk drawer," I answered.
"Do you want to play double or nothing for my guarantee?" he proposed.
I was momentarily at a loss for words.
"You've got the wrong partner, Townes," I laughed. "I think I'll pass."
He didn't say anything. He just smiled.
I paid him, and as he left the office I remember thinking, both of us were lucky that I was working that night instead of Stanley.
Of all the concerts we created over the last thirty years, "Required Listening" co produced with WFUV FM would also be on my list. That series, along with "In Their Own Words," was sacred to me. I was faced with an unusual dilemma when Bob Frank, president of Koch Entertainment, called to ask if we wanted to host a Ringo Starr concert for the press to help promote his forthcoming album Ringorama. The chance to present Ringo would trump anything on the calendar. The dilemma was, the only day that worked for Ringo was the same night that I already booked and started to advertise "Required Listening: A No Risk Evening of Discovery." I did not want to move or cancel "Required Listening," but I also did not want to lose Ringo.
I finally came up with a plan. Instead of doing our customary two shows, we would do one long show. The first part of the night would feature our four "Required Listening" acts. We would then take an intermission, and the second half of the show would be an unadvertised surprise guest set by Ringo Starr and his band, The Roundheads. Thus, the integrity of the "Required Listening" concept would be preserved. As a bonus, the people who came to support the series would get the surprise of a lifetime. Now all I had to do was sell my proposal to Ringo.
I called Mark Hudson, Ringo's guitarist and music director, and explained that we did a monthly series called "Required Listening" that showcased and tried to build an audience for artists deserving wider recognition. I told him that we wanted to present Ringo's press show as a surprise gig as part of the evening that had already been scheduled for "Required Listening."
Mark said that he would explain the situation to Ringo and get back to me. True to his word, we were back on the phone within an hour. Mark enthusiastically told me that Ringo loved the idea of being part of an evening that encouraged and supported new talent. He said, "Ringo wanted you to know that he was happy to be a part of "AN EVENING OF SONGWRITERS ON PARADE"!
I said, "The show is called 'Required Listening.'" Without missing a beat, Mark said, "Yes, but Ringo is now calling it 'Songwriters on Parade.'" I felt like I was in the middle of a Monty Python sketch.
So on March 22, 2003, all those audience members attending "Songwriter's on Parade" got to see Amy Correia, Tony Furtado, Richard Julian, Les Sans Culottes, Ringo Starr and the Roundheads, plus a surprise encore after "Yellow Submarine" - with Ringo, Norah Jones and Richard Julian singing "With a Little Help From My Friends." Not a bad deal for $20.
So many memories triggered by a new anniversary and a new opportunity to share our legacy. Eileen always says, "When one door closes, another one opens."
A month ago, Don Duggan, a long time customer, avid supporter and friend, sent us an e-mail. Don is a very spiritual guy. In this e-mail, he shared an experience that he had while waiting on line to see Lou Reed at St. Anne's Warehouse in Brooklyn. He was talking with another fan, who started to tell him about the times he saw Lou perform at The Bottom Line. When he heard that Don was a frequent patron of the club, they started to compare notes about their favorite Bottom Line shows. Don closed the e-mail with, "This scene has played out over and over for me when I go to a show and talk to people. You have built a community of people who love music...We miss you and hope you return to us soon."
We know it must be very frustrating not to hear updates more often, but we have purposely held back, because we do not want to disappoint you. For more than a year we were in negotiations with a landlord on the Upper West Side for a lease on a location we were thrilled about. There were numerous occasions when we thought the deal was about to close. We were excited and tempted to start to release some of this information as part of an update on the site. But we erred on the side of caution in case we were wrong, and unfortunately that was the case. Although we were very disappointed, we were relieved that we didn't jump the gun.
On the occasion of the thirty-third anniversary of The Bottom Line, Stanley and I want to report:
The search still continues for a new location.
The box set is in preproduction.
We are committed more than ever to reopen.
Don't lose faith. There are still thousands of Songwriters on Parade that we will discover together.
Allan and Stanley
February 12, 2006
Recently, Eileen and I had dinner with some new-found friends. During the course of the meal, Sandy, one of our enthusiastic dinner companions, said that everyone she knew who had come to the club had their own favorite Bottom Line story. She proceeded to tell us about her girlfriend, whose favorite story was accidentally walking into the men's room and coming face to face with Bob Dylan, who was standing directly in front of a urinal.
For the next twenty minutes, Sandy, her husband Harry, Eileen and I traded our own favorite stories.
Stanley and I have often discussed writing a book about the club, and we ultimately came to the same conclusion: It would be a book about other people's stories. The Bottom Line belonged to so many more people than just Stanley and me. It was a dream that belonged solely to us and our families until February 12, 1974. Once the club was open and that dream realized, it was no longer exclusively ours. It was much larger than us. It was much larger than the 5,000-square footprint on West Fourth and Mercer. It influenced and affected the lives of thousands of people we didn't know. That's why the real story of The Bottom Line is --- and belongs to --- the artists who played there, the staff who worked there and the tens of thousands of fans who went there. They all have a Bottom Line memory. Ironically, many of these memories are not about music, although they may have music in common. They are really about making a connection. A connection that, as long as you live, you will never forget because it is something that has changed your life forever.
As Sandy and Harry said, "Everyone has their own favorite Bottom Line story."
The search for a new physical location for The Bottom Line continues. It is a frustrating task that has been made more bearable by a terrific support team.
Thanks for your continued words of encouragement. It raises our spirits to know that you are still rooting for us.
Most of all, thanks for your shared memories. They are cherished.
Allan and Stanley
February 12, 2005
February 12, 2005 seems the perfect day for an update. The last time we spoke was April 8, 2004, and since that time the number of sites we have looked at for a new location for The Bottom Line has doubled. In case you are keeping track, the current number of places now stands at 30. If ever there was a song lyric that captured the moment it's the old Lieber and Stoller classic "Searchin.'"
Over the last year we have spoken to and exchanged e-mail correspondence with many musicians, friends, fans and patrons who consider The Bottom Line their musical home and have been feeling the loss in a personal way. Although our search has taken longer than any of us would have liked, we are not the least bit discouraged and are still very committed to finding our new home.
Thanks again for your e-mails, Bottom Line T-shirt orders, suggestions for new locations, digital pictures of possible locations, interest in investing in the new club, musical memories, invitations to parties and gigs, new CDs, great words of inspiration and encouragement, but most of all for believing in and rooting for us.
Oh, and by the way, Happy Anniversary.
Allan and Stanley
December 16, 2004
THE DOWNTOWN MESSIAH 2004
Unfortunately, there won't be a live performance of The Downtwon Messiah this year. We are hoping that we will once again be able to present a live version of The Downtown Messiah next year. In the meantime, you can hear The Downtown Messiah on the radio this year in a program entitled "The Best of The Downtown Messiah."
A compilation of performances of The Downtown Messiah over the last six years produced by WFUV.
It can be heard on:
Friday Dec 24
Saturday Dec 25
Sirius Disorder 24
Fri. Dec. 24
Sat. Dec. 25
We wish you and your families a very Happy and Joyous Holiday Season.
April 8, 2004
It's been about eight weeks since our last update, so we thought we'd check in.
The hunt for a new location for The Bottom Line has taken us far and wide. We've been to locations as far downtown as Ground Zero to as far uptown as 125th and Lenox. In between we've made numerous stops in Chelsea and midtown. All in all we've seen about fifteen places. None of them have been quite right so far although in a couple of places we've come real close. Soooo, the search continues.
In the meantime, for those of you who really have been missing us you can get your Bottom Line jones satisfied on the radio:
For those of you who have satellite radio:
The Sirius - Bottom Line Concert Hour which are a series of shows recorded by Sirius Satellite radio from June 2003 - Jan 2004. During that now historical seven month period, Sirius captured a number of great performances which are now being broadcast monthly on Folktown 38 every Friday at noon with a repeat performance on Sunday at noon and on Sirius Disorder 24 every Thursday at 5:00pm with a repeat performance every Sunday at 10:00am Eastern. These shows are hosted, with love, by Meg Griffin and sound so great if you close your eyes you'll feel like you are sitting at your favorite table at The Bottom Line.
FROM SHOWS SIRIUS RECORDED DURING 2003 AT THE BOTTOM LINE:
Friday, November 19 @ Noon
Sunday, November 21 @ Noon
(who host The Dharma Cafe on Folktown 38 saturday mornings)
will also be our:
"Sirius Bottom Line Concert Hour"
SIRIUS DISORDER 24
Thursday, November 18 @ 5pm
Sunday, November 21 @ 10am
(who host The Dharma Cafe on Folktown 38 saturday mornings)
will also be our:
"Sirius Bottom Line Concert Hour"
For those of you who have written to us at how hard it has been to pass the corner of West Fourth and Mercer without seeing The Bottom Line awning and signage, you can take solace in knowing its new home is in Cleveland at The Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame who were honored to be asked to be the custodian for it.
Thanks to all of you who have E-mailed suggestions for specific locations for us to check out as well as those of you who've indicated your interest in contributing financially once a new location is found. Thanks for staying in touch, for continuing to buy T-shirts, for sharing creative suggestions, but most of all for your commitment to our future.
We'll be in touch,
Allan and Stanley
February 12, 2004
Thank you for your support of The Bottom Line. Though we are sad to have left our home on West 4th street, we are now making plans for the future to continue The Bottom Line's commitment to music. We continue to be moved by your e-mails, your memories and the outpouring of support for the club and the voice that it provides. We are actively meeting with our original financial backers, and with those who have contacted us since then, with the goal of presenting, better than ever, The Bottom Line's unique music.
If you want to get in touch with us you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep checking the website www.bottomlinecabaret.com because we will give you updates on a regular basis. In response to a number of e-mails, yes we do plan on continuing the timeline, and will try and put up more dates and a few more stories in the immediate future. And yes, T-shirts are still available will continue to be sold through the website - payment can be made according to the instructions on the website.
We will keep you posted as things move forward.
Stay tuned for more developments.
Allan and Stanley
January 22, 2004
After almost thirty years of bringing a wide variety of exciting and innovative artists to the stage at the corner of West 4th and Mercer, The Bottom Line will be closing its doors for the last time today.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our extraordinary friends and supporters who have rallied around us during these difficult last six months: our incredible staff who are like family, the wonderful musicians who have vowed not to let our legacy be forgotten, and the kindness of strangers who created websites, wrote letters, signed petitions, sent gifts, bought T-shirts and came to the club to show their support.
Most of all, we want to thank our families for making a very painful and surreal experience a bit more bearable. We would not have been able to get through this without your love and support.
When we opened The Bottom Line on February 12, 1974, our goal was to create a Music Room not a jazz, rock or folk club but a venue where many different genres could find an audience. The Bottom Line has always been about the music, and we find fulfillment in knowing that we have stayed the course and remained true to our vision.
Most importantly, we are proud to have provided a stage where new acts grew to become familiar friends, where unknown acts became super stars, where pioneers and innovators could stake their claim, where acts who were tentative could fail, fall on their faces and then could come back and learn to do it the right way, where established acts who were no longer the flavor of the month could maintain their dignity and nurture their creativity from a loyal audience who would sit and listen to every note in the intimacy of The Bottom Line and then react as if they were in a stadium 10,000 times its size, where artists who had lost their way could find an audience who were not judgmental but always open to something new because they love the music, and it was a stage where artists who only drew dozens of people were encouraged to build an audience that ultimately extended to lines around the block, and it was always there for artists who deserved to be heard because of their amazing talent as opposed to their box office draw. For all those things and more, the stage at The Bottom Line was special.
We hope that The Bottom Line has meant something in your lives, and it has given you as much joy as it has for us in presenting the extraordinary artists that have performed on our stage. We take enormous pleasure in knowing that over the last thirty years we have increased the world's potential for music.
Allan and Stanley
January 22, 2004
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