An Ode to The Red Door, What went wrong?

An Ode to The Red Door, What went wrong?

THE RED DOOR

THE RED DOOR

I’d been hearing the rumors for a few weeks and yesterday it happened, The Red Door literally closed its doors.  The Red Door if you aren’t familiar with it was a music club located in an alcove on Main Street in Watertown, CT. Kind of out of the way and not the easiest place to get to, it was a Connecticut destination known for its great lighting and sound.  The upper floor housed an expansive stage, while the downstairs had more of an underground club vibe with a DJ.

I was introduced to The Red Door by the band Jimmy Hat in March of 2010, just when LBR started documenting local bands.  Danielle asked me to film them there due to the lighting and their draw. It soon became our go to place for video and for the next couple of years most of our filming was from there.

While Friday and Saturday were mostly cover bands, albeit some of Connecticut’s best, Wednesday and Thursday consisted of Jazz, Sushi and Open Mic night. There was a tenuous connection between Thursday’s Open Mic and the weekend shows in that when a band hosted a busy Open Mic they usually ended up playing on the weekend at some point.

Some of the best video we have ever gotten has been from Thursday’s Open Mic Night, The first non-competitive performance of Bad Rooster with barely enough material for two half hour sets. I convinced our good friend Jennifer Hill to play a set there and the video from that will be featured at The Bristol historical Museum.  Almost Ancient and The Connecticut Transit Authority always packed the house and were fun to film. The band Lakshmi now known as Fight the Fear went on to open for Bon Jovi. I’ve seen a lot of bands form here, play their last show, or regroup and do reunions and benefits. Some of my best memories will be all the people I’ve met and formed great friendships with over the last 3 years mostly at The Red Door.

So you may be asking what happened? Well here is where I can’t offer a definitive answer, but a few reasons come to mind.  The economy being the most pressing, for a long time people just stopped going out as much, a lot of Connecticut’s clubs have closed over the last 5 years. The other issue is with the club itself, hard to get to for most of us, lack of seating, and no food service except on Sushi Night along with only on street parking.  Also a new club The Shamrock opened in Waterbury which has all of the above amenities and is easily accessible off I84.

Also I believe the pendulum has shifted again and Connecticut is seeing a resurgence in Original and Indie music.  The Red Door recently canceled its Open Mic Night and Sushi Bob decided to retire which only left cover music and DJ’s on the weekend.  I believe The Red Door management missed this shift and failed to capitalize on it, though due to the reasons above it may not have helped.

On a personal level I have to add that the recent changes made by management haven’t gone over well with existing clientele and some of the bands.  While most bands either loved or hated The Red Door depending on whether you were invited to play or not, it seemed to of intensified over the last year.  The Red Door is legendary in that it has its own hate song lovingly performed by Crosseyed Cat. While I also realize that bouncers need to keep the peace they don’t need to be assholes to regular customers. People in Connecticut don’t go for the exclusionary gold rope treatment at the door, put somebody with a personality out there to greet your customers.  I always pay a cover if I’m not filming, but if I’m working I expect to get in and not be hassled at the door, after the 4th time this happened with the same door person I gave up.  The Red Door which used to house my musical family basically became just another club.

The good news is a club has been at that spot for many, many years and I’ve already heard rumors of it being reopened shortly.  I wish any new owners the best of luck and hopefully they can get their mojo back.

 

Crosseyed Cat – I’m The Law!

3 Responsesto “An Ode to The Red Door, What went wrong?”

  1. mike shamrock pronovost says:

    AS A CLUB OWNER THIS DOES NOT SIT WELL WITH ME TO LOOSE ANOTHER MUSIC VENUE.I MYSELF HAVE FREQUENTED THE RED DOOR FOR YEARS AS FAR BACK TO THE FAT DADDY DAY’S.ME AND THE GUY’S WOULD ESPECIALLY GO ON WEDNESDAY’S FOR SUSHI WITH SUSHI BOB AND THE BANDS. HOPEFULLY THE RED DOOR WILL NOT STAY CLOSED FOR LONG AND THE NEW OWNERS WILL BRING IT BACK TO THE WAYS WHICH EVERYONE IS ACCUSTOMED TO.

  2. Mike,

    The Red Door has always had problems due to location, even back when it was called Tavern Near the Green. Their biggest problem now, however, outside of the economy, is the lack of bringing in new blood to entertain there. The same rotation of bands is the fastest way to kill a club. Regardless of who is responsible for booking any room, there has to be variety. Of late, they have tried bringing in new talent, but by that point it was too late. I loved playing there, both during Tavern Near the Green and Red Door, as did many bands, and for exactly the reasons you state. Joe was a great guy to deal with, when you could deal directly with him and was always accommodating to the needs of the bands. Did the Shamrock eat into his business? Possibly somewhat, but they cater to a different clientele, a large percentage of it being the happy hour office workers in Waterbury. Did they model themselves after Red Door? Of course they did. It is a winning formula, except that they have been bringing in talent of EVERY type, including larger acts on a more regular basis, AND, they don’t have a continuous rotation of the same old stuff. Yes, they have their favorites because of those bands’ proximity to Waterbury, but all the other acts are treated to a real, regular, crowd that still parties without the idiot at the door or (as I’m the Law tells) off duty local cops with a God complex. Too many factors have caused the Door to close, and it is a damn shame that it had to happen. But, those of us connected to the music industry in this state know that, today, nothing is bullet proof.