Forty years, up and running. The Double Door Inn has done just that. To be a music venue and achieve that in Charlotte, NC is one thing. To also be recognized as one of the oldest blues music venues in the United States. Yes, the Double Door has done, and continues to be all of those things, and celebrated that history with their 40th anniversary party on December 22nd.
On December 22nd in 1973, Nick Karres (with help from his family) opened a bar in an renovated old house that been built in 1914. Since then, everyone from Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Levon Helm, Leon Russell, and an endless list of musicians have played on their small stage. The Double Door is now recognized as the second-oldest blues venue in the United States, second only to the legendary Antone’s, in Austin, TX. However, it is also recognized as the oldest running music venue in the United States with the same ownership. That would still be Nick, who enjoyed the birthday celebrations last week with his entire family on hand.
One of the first people to ever play the Double Door was Lenny Federal, whose Federal Bureau of Rock & Roll (which also featured his brother Michael Federal) packed the venue many times during the 1970s and ’80s. On this night, the Federal Bureau filled the Double Door to capacity again, with a who’s who of those that have called the venue home. Musicians such as Jim Brock, Bill Noonan and others. And longtime patrons such as Roy Williams, and musician/artist Dillard Richardson, who photographed Eric Clapton on the Double Door’s stage.
Richardson’s photos of that fabled night in 1982 are featured for first time ever in a new edition of a book on the Double Door Inn. Co-written by yours truly, and the late Debby Wallace, the book takes a fond look back at the people and music that made the venue what it was. When Debby and I put the book together in 2008, we had talked about doing an updated version of the book, once some time had passed. With help from Adam Roth, who did the original book’s original layout and design, the book is available again.
While the book was available at the Double Door on this special night, the special part of the evening, for me, was seeing the Double Door celebrating its history in grand fashion. Nick Karres and his family sitting behind the soundboard. Mike Martin (aka Martino, who has bartended at the Double Door since 1975), and patrons packed into every corner as the Federal Brothers played on. History, alive and well, as the music plays on.
Happy Birthday, Double Door Inn.
December 30, 2013