I was a music director for a nightclub in Lowell Massachusetts that lasted 6 years called the “Backpoge” (2011-2017).
It was a small 100 person capacity club that was tucked down an alley on a canal in the downtown grid, it offered no food, or TVs, well there was one but it was off almost all the time, just drinks and bands.
1300 shows later it closed its doors for reasons I won’t get into here. But, If you’ve been a witness to the great intersections of many people (bands) patrons (music lovers) and circumstances, in this case, a club just “out of the way” enough to not attract the wrong kind of attention, then you know that such things, historically, don’t last for that long. The flash and they sizzle, they become and embody “the thing.” And then they promptly roll over and die.
Frankly, I was surprised it lasted 6 years given so many challenges and from so many places.
But the people came. And the bands came. And there was a lot of music.
And there was a lot of drama.
Bartenders, patrons, musicians, locals, suburbanites that left their enclaves for a night in the dangerous city: it was the Backpage.
There was no shortage of story telling, gossip, new music debuts, open mic fiascos, romantic rendezvous, the occasional gun (don’t worry, no one ever got shot), over drinking, and general mayhem that goes with keeping the train on the tracks.
It was loose.
Despite booking the music there I would only play there with my band once a quarter but I would always jump at the chance to play with my friends though as you can see below, playing with Toni Lynn Washington).
The Backpage closed its doors in April of 2017, yet the sign still hangs above the door and I don’t know why. Some questions go unanswered.