Sorry everyone, but I come bearing some bad news: Blackbird Tavern, one of San Jose’s most promising venues of the last year, shut its doors suddenly on Monday.
Listen, Blackbird, I know it’s not your fault. I’m just…I’m disappointed, man.
Disappointed, and a little worried. While I’m not throwing in the towel just yet, this doesn’t bode well. I’ve seen this before many, many times.
While there are plenty of other places to get some kickass craft beer, cocktails, and delicious, delicious dinners downtown, Blackbird Tavern was something special. Not only was the food to die for and the staff some of the sweetest I’ve ever come across at a restaurant of their price range, but it—most importantly—doubled as a respected music venue. Though floor space was tight, Blackbird was able to pull in slightly lower-key, but no less exciting acts of the jazz, funk, and rockabilly varieties.
We’ve still got Cafe Stritch, which is nice, but it doesn’t serve quite the same audience, and obviously having both was even better. Having the two of them operating in harmony downtown helped confirm suspicions that, yes, San Jose was finally developing a real, actual artistic identity. The sudden loss of Blackbird alarms me the way the loss of any up-and-coming venue in San Jose has always alarmed me. We are going to need another vinyl-spinnin’, art-appreciating, live-music-by-night establishment soon, before we lose our momentum.
Community gossip says the location has doomed multiple businesses in the last few years, and while that may be true, let’s not let that stop anyone who may dream of opening up a music-friendly spot downtown from doing so. I only mention this because, as I said, I’ve seen this before. San Jose music fans have a tendency to tirelessly lament the lack of a scene, but also give up at the first sign of defeat in a self-fulfilling, “See? I told you!” kind of move. If I can pull out my usual soapbox again, we want and we deserve a music scene in San Jose. The growing thread of laments from locals on Blackbird’s Facebook announcement can’t be wrong.