JR’s Lightbulb Club to call it quits after 27 years

JR’s Lightbulb Club / Staff photo

After nearly 30 years in business, JR’s Lightbulb Club is set to close its doors for the final time.

Owner Benton Bandy told us this week the live music venue, located on Block Avenue since the late 1980s, is working on a few farewell shows before closing for good sometime in the coming weeks.

Bandy said he didn’t take the decision to close the venue lightly.

Water Liars / Photo: Anna Hutchison

“I have been involved with the Lightbulb Club since its inception in 1989, and what a great and compelling journey it’s been,” Bandy told us Tuesday. “I can’t think of a band that was a regular in Fayetteville, that didn’t play a gig or maybe even have their first show at the Lightbulb Club. Not to mention seeing all the great touring bands that have performed on its stage. So to say this is the end of an era may be true, and to say this is sad definitely has a lot of truth to it.”

JR’s has indeed been home to countless memorable shows over the years, and as we mentioned in our post about the venue’s 25 year anniversary a few years ago, the sounds that have escaped the cracks and crevices of that century-old building on Block Avenue have been as diverse as the city of Fayetteville itself.

From the funky groove of Punkinhead, to underground rock by The Faith Healers, to metal from Vore, or the southern sounds of The Tares and The Paper Hearts. Rap and indie rock. Songwriters. Bluegrass. Plenty of ear-splitting karaoke (you know who you are, Sunday night crowd).

Local bands playing original music cut their teeth on the club’s modest stage, first inside the basement at 21 N. Block Ave., and later in the space next door where the venue currently resides.

Touring acts – some who were in their prime, while others made their mark to become nationally known a bit later (The White Stripes, Wolf Parade, The Postal Service) – played that small stage that has been the scene for countless guitar solos, drum fills, and bass walks over the years.

The closure certainly marks the end of an era. Bandy said a combination of things led him to the decision to close JR’s.

“Many factors helped us arrive at this conclusion, lots of them personal, which I would rather not get into, some of them family obligations, and a little bit of it being just the right time to end this journey,” he said.

Bandy said he is currently seeking bands that want to be a part of the farewell celebration, and will announce them once the shows comes together. No date for the shows has been determined, but Bandy said his goal is for them to happen in the next few weeks.

“Our plan is to put together some genre-specific shows that will appeal to as many of our patrons as possible,” he said. “I can’t promise every band a spot, but we would like to put together a large sampling of music, and will attempt to have great shows that will send us off with a bang.”

Bands interested in playing the farewell show should email Bandy at [email protected]. Inquiries on the building JR’s occupies at 19, 21, and 23 N. Block Avenue should be referred to Brian Reindl at 479-582-4300.

Once the lineups are set, the shows will be announced on the venue’s Facebook page.