The following statement reflects the perspective of a longtime Lenny’s supporter, who has witnessed the demise of his beloved club. In an attempt to help him convey his ideas and feelings about this unfortunate circumstance as he’s watched it develop, this post contains a summary of our conversations. Having been involved throughout the struggle to keep Lenny’s afloat, I sympathize and recognize the many facets that have lead to the owner’s decision not to renew the liquor license. At the end of 2010, Lenny’s Bar will close. This post is one person’s opinion as to why.
“Lenny’s was a staple in the community where you can bring your music and be yourself. Though rumors have been spreading for years that Lenny’s future was uncertain, it wasn’t until the tornado in 2008 hit that things started getting bad. The owners of the building refused to replace the air conditioners that were blown off the roof until the insurance companies paid them. We went weeks without air conditioning in the middle of the summer. At the same time, The Graveyard Tavern opened and all the hipster kids went there, along with our DJ, Brian Parris.
The next big problem was Bean Summer (booking agent) leaving. Bean left for a better job, he was awesome and still worked with us after he left. But, after that, the next two promoters made promises that they couldn’t keep, causing empty days on our calendar with no shows and poor promotional efforts. I don’t know how this is the venue’s fault, when they are the promoters.
Then there was a restructuring of activity and things were looking up. That’s when one Lenny’s owner decided to add promoter, Chris Conway to the club, thinking that he’d bring in national acts and take us to the next level. Chris turned out to be a con artist. He promised bands outrageous money that he didn’t have, double-booked, and didn’t follow through on any shows, leaving most of two months of the calendar empty. All these changes happened within a year and a half, causing utter chaos between transitions.
If a club doesn’t generate money, they can’t stay open. There are numerous bills that people don’t normally consider, like sales tax, liability insurance, inventory, employees, gear, upkeep and maintenance. Being a DIY club, we offered door deals like most clubs in town. But, the doors closed too often to keep up with the bills.
There are several reasons why Lenny’s (or any other club) ends up having to close its doors. These are the reasons I’ve witnessed during my time in Atlanta’s music scene.
1. Poor promotion
2. Elitist attitudes
3. Bands forgetting where they came from
4. Negative press
In order for a venue to work, it takes cooperation between the scene, the owner, and the press. Atlanta’s scene seems to be too cool for itself. Atlanta exists with so many small scenes that all hate on each other. It is truly hate city. As a venue, we tried to embrace a music scene, but we made you a salad and you wanted to throw out the cucumbers and tomatoes and keep only what you like.
Until you guys get behind the music, not just a scene, you’re always going to be losing venues.”