Famed NJ Rock Club The Court Tavern Mysteriously Shuttered

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Web site of the Court Tavern
A New Brunswick rock club known for its gritty atmosphere, cheap beer and a basement that featured some of the most exciting rock bands to come out of New Jersey, has shut down after more than 30 years.

The Court Tavern mysteriously closed its doors more than a week ago, shocking music lovers and members of the community.

Court Tavern owner Bob Albert hasn’t responded to repeated requests for comment from WNYC. Information on its Web site about upcoming shows has been replaced with a simple message: “As of January 17th, 2012 The Court Tavern is Indefinitely CLOSED.”

The Gaslight Anthem, the Smithereens, the Roadside Graves, Screaming Females, Tiny Lights, Vivian Girls are among the bands that played at the storied music venue.

“In a sense, we considered it our cavern club. It was a place where we could go and play any time we wanted to,” said Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken, who recorded a live album at the club in 2008. “It gave us a chance to try out new material, to build a following and have an awful lot of fun.”

The club has had financial problems in the past. In 2010, it held a benefit concert that featured the likes of Patti Smith, the Smithereens and the Slaves of New Brunswick.

A spokesman for New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill, said the Court Tavern owed about $44,000 in back taxes, water and sewer bills. But he said it was nothing that would force the city to close it. The city sold the tax lien to a third party at the end of 2011.

It also has faced other threats to its existence: in 2001, its fight against eminent domain was featured in the 2009 documentary “The Last Bastions of Rock.”

The closure of the Court Tavern follows a long list of other rock clubs that have disappeared from the New Brunswick music scene, including the Melody Bar and the Roxy.


Comments [2]

Jay Pounders from Los Angeles, CA

I was the singer/guitarist with Crossfire Choir and I wanted to pay my tributes to the Court Tavern. We owe what little success we had to the Court Tavern and to the New Brunswick music scene. While not from the area, we were warmly greeted at the Court and and had about as much fun playing those shows as any we ever played anywhere. I laughed til beer came out of my nose. My new passion is my political website that I have created for progressives and the people who love them and can be found at
I also continue to write, record and perform out here in LA with former CFC drummer, Brad Peet, and bassist, Brad Rendell, as Jay Pounders and the Brads.

Jan. 31 2012 09:43 PM
Jose Perez from Southern California

I was the drummer for the band Resistance which opened for the Smithereens at the Cout Tavern back in the mid to late 80's. So sad to hear that the Court Tavern has closed like so many others. Are there any left in NJ? Seems like the whole NJ club scene has died out.

Jan. 31 2012 04:00 AM

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