AFRO-AMERICAN MUSIC INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 31 YEARS
PLEASE HELP US KEEP OUR DOORS OPEN!
Throughout the 1990âs, 422 Foreland Street in Pittsburgh's Northside, was the place to be if you were a jazz musician or a lover of jazz music. James Street Tavern was a place that is near and dear to the heart of so many.
Fast forward to 2011. James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy opened the doors as a restaurant. Within two weeks, we realized we needed to serve more than food. Local musicians were clamoring for a place to play. They regaled us with tales from âback in the dayâ, when they played at James Street Tavern. It was our honor to offer them a new home. We love jazz, blues, rock, acoustic, hip hop, EDM & more. You name it â odds are we've found talented musicians who love the opportunity to showcase their talents! Live music is the essence of James Street. We schedule over 300 performances every year. That's a lot of local musicians who get to do what they love and add to their income. We have 30 employees who depend on live music to fill the house so they too can provide for their families too.
We love the Northside! It's been the home of live music for a long time now. We've brought life back to the dark, empty and neglected corner at James & Foreland since the music stopped at the old James Street Tavern. We want to stay for many years to come!
But we need your help! We need to make extensive renovations in order to meet PLCB noise requirements. The law does not allow for the sound of amplified music to be heard beyond the licensed premises' property line. Step off the sidewalk, hear music, and we're in violation. Penalties include stiff fines, suspension of the liquor license, business closure due to being a nuisance bar, even jail time.
We want to continue to be a good neighbor, we want to adhere to the law. Your kindness and generosity will help us do that. We appreciate your support of live, local music. And we are deeply grateful for your support this historical venue and James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy.
Upcoming Fundraiser. Click for more details.
July 23rd â Silent Disco https://www.facebook.com/events/1612066755750352/
August 10th â All Star Jazz Jam https://www.facebook.com/events/640323256137572/
August 14th â Sunday Funday Festival https ://www.facebook.com/events/1653052191680023/
August 18th â DiCelloâs Gallery at the Gastropub https://www.facebook.com/events/258001294582237/
August 26th â Deutschtown Music Festival Do-Over.
I just found out about this and I have 2 ideas off the top of my head. (1) Some form of Indigogo campaign to draw support from people without having to attend the club - even nationwide - and (2) work with local activists to change that extreme law. Typical noise ordinances set a level such as 55db at the property line, not zero. The New Orleans music scene is facing similar crises due to post-Katrina gentrification leading to an influx of new property owners who are buying up French Quarter properties and complaining about live music in the streets! This is the kind of shallow, soulless hypocrisy that is running rampant in the U.S. right now: people who want to be associated with the arts but don't want the nuisance of having to "tolerate" actual artists in action. I have faith that such selfish behavior that is truly not in the city's best interest can be successfully opposed in via city government. The success of the James St is truly important for the cultural health pf Pittsburgh, and indeed for the overall health of the city in broader ways, because the arts are essential to the existence a sane, civic minded population. Without the arts, crime will increase, volunteerism will decrease, and all manner of decay will ensue. A law requiring zero db at the street is unrealistic and totally unfair because a venue with no music could create a substantial noise just by a crowd of people talking. The noise standard must be independent of the source of the noise, and it must be applied uniformly, not capriciously. A zero-db threshold would shut down virtually every business in the city. The James St should not be forced to comply with this law - it would truly be a disgraceful waste of money that should go to better purposes. I don't know what has already been done to influence city hall, so perhaps I have some catch-up to do, but this issue is not unique to Pittsburgh and the struggles of other communities like New Orleans may contribute valuable insights and tactics.
You make an interesting point Eli.
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Amid the Deutschtown Music Festival last week, James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy had some unexpected guests: officers from the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement.
Someone had called in a noise complaint against the North Side restaurant and music venue — its second in nine months — forcing management to shut down the music. Now, James Street Gastropub, a staple of the Pittsburgh jazz scene, is at risk of losing its liquor license.
To meet state Liquior Control laws, the tavern has to prevent noise from leaving the pre-World War II building by Sept. 1, a complicated and costly task, said Kevin Saftner, 30, general manager and booking agent at James Street. He has set up a page on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo to help raise the $30,000 required to soundproof the space. A “Silent Disco” event is planned July 23.
“The only way we can solve this is by being good neighbors,” Saftner said. He took over the bar in 2011 and said he has worked to bring a diverse array of people to the space.
“We have a drag brunch a couple of times a month, burlesque shows; we host church groups too,” he said, adding, “They're always on different nights.”
The noise complaint during the music festival came as a surprise, Saftner, bar patrons and some neighbors said Thursday.
“I can actually feel the music through my walls,” said Edward Heal, 64, owner of the home on Foreland Street next to James Street Gastropub. “But I don't mind it at all.”
Heal has owned the house for 12 years and has used it as an office for his small advertising business. He started living there full time last year. Aside from smokers who throw their cigarettes on the sidewalk outside his house, Heal — a jazz fan — said that the bar and music venue has been a good neighbor.
“An operating business is better than a shuttered business,” Heal said. “This neighborhood needs more jobs.”
Heal added that ambulances and medical helicopters traveling to and from Allegheny General Hospital on the North Side make much more noise.
Tony Spearman, 63, lives in an apartment down the street from the James Street Gastrobpub and works at a church in the area.
“The only problem is parking,” he said. “As far as noise goes, that place is fine,” adding that James Street isn't more raucous than other area venues.
In the past three years, James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy has received two other citations from state Liquor Control Enforcement: one in 2014 for failing to post a “No Smoking” sign inside the bar, and one in 2015 for excessive noise.
James Street Gastropub is “a good operator,” said Mark Fatla, executive director of the Northside Leadership Conference, a community development organization. “James Street is making a lot of efforts to resolve this, and I applaud them for that.”.
Max Siegelbaum is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seems pretty crazy that after all these years all of a sudden they are too loud. There are plenty of venues in the city of Pgh that play music that reaches beyond the boundries of the building so why is James Street being singled out? They should be grandfathered in for the first thing even if there are new rules coming in to play this venue has been around forever. Do what you need to do to save it but I am wondering why it is even being attacked by the neighborhood. Would they rather see an empty building sitting there with no business like so many areas in Pgh to fall into disrepair or a thriving tax paying business that brings customers to other area businesses when they visit James Street. Don't cut off your nose to spite your face North side neighbors. You have to be good neighbors too!