April 19, 2024

23 ClubAfter 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.


  1. Good luck to the 23 Club…I’ve done 2 shows there, both fairly dismal affairs. The space is great but like you said, there’s not much local support. I wanted it to be like the built-in crowd at the Riptide, and brother, it ain’t.

    Love the direction you’re taking the website, design wise…though I would ask for maybe a lighter background behind the text, because the lack of contrast makes it a little hard to read (on my screen anyway).


    Back in the late seventies I was one of the first few paramedics in San Mateo County. We were all stationed around the county, but Brisbane was manned by each of us taking an extra half-shift (12 hrs instead of 24) in Brisbane. We were housed just up the road from the back of DeMarco’s in the ‘Public Safety’ Station (the town had neither real cops … Read Moreor firemen, but people who wore whichever hat depending on the circumstance). We spent an inordinate amount of time hauling people out of DeMarco’s and the bar across Visitacion which I forget the name of – either drunk on their ass, battered beyond recognition, or screaming and trying to kick out the windows of the cop car – ahh, THOSE were the good ol’ days…after 23 years I was sooo glad to just be a musician.

  3. About 6 years ago a business associate and I were about to take over the 23 Club, but then I talked to people around town and ran some stats on the population of the area. Brisbane isn’t the rough-and-tumble work-hard, party-hard place it used to be. It’s now mostly professionals who have to be in bed by 10pm to get up for work early for commutes.

    After figuring that we’d have to pull in an average of $1200 each and every day in order to make the numbers work, we reluctantly abandoned the idea. It’s a shame because a lot of us can remember what Brisbane was and what the 23 Club was, but time and the population have shifted. I’m in Brisbane often and will stop by when I can. I wish much success on the new proprietors.

    –David Kaye

  4. It was a pleasure to see that the new owner of the “Historic 23 Club”. Has finally brought it back to that good old “Honky Tonk” feeling that I remember as a young girl back in my mid 20’s.

    I was briefly introduced to the new owner “Ralph” and I had to let him know what a “tremendous” Job he has done to bring back the good ole days of the 23 Club”


    – Judy-

  5. It’s a fun venue: good food, not at all expensive; a first-class sound system and acoustics and a great dance floor. I love playing there with the spirits of the legends that came before in and on the walls around….

    These folks deserve kudos and support for carrying our heritage and history forward.

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