After ten years and five managements, each seemingly less focused than the previous, the historic 23 Club in Brisbane is moving on and quite possibly up. It’s been a goth venue, a Russian restaurant, a few other things that nobody (least of all those who were running it) quite figured out, and its last incarnation as a Latin club became the disaster that everyone predicted.
The upshot of it has been that honky-tonk all but evaporated, the Brisbane locals became alienated, and bars without a core of regulars are like a bank without depositors. Yet a ray of light does shine since the newest ownership at least has a sensible booking policy. The Fancy Dan Band is booked along with four other Americana-leaning bands on 10/10, the Road Zombies Car Club has a Halloween party coming up on 10/24 with the Royal Deuces and the Hi-Rhythm Hustlers, and Cherry Bomb Productions, which bailed out following mountains of abuse from prior managements, is returning with at least two Brisbane Bop Barndance & BBQ shows on 11/8 and 12/6.
Betty LeBlanc‘s once popular Sunday Cajun/zydeco shows, which had been on hold for a few years are also coming back on 11/15. What remains to be seen is whether the customers will come back to the storied club which was at the heart of a thriving honky-tonk scene that developed in Brisbane after WW2 and ran up to the ’60s. Of course Brisbane will never get back to that, but it does appear that the 23 Club has at least regained its footing. Stay tuned to HWS News for further developments.