As small arts venues continue to struggle in New York, there’s a new reminder that not even big ones are immune to the same challenges. Times Square’s home for jazz, R&B and soul B.B. King Blues Club & Grill will have its final show on April 29 after an 18-year tenure on 42nd Street, owner Blue Note Entertainment Group announced on Tuesday. The company blamed escalating rent for the closure, and said it is looking to reopen B.B. King in a new Manhattan location.
The closing comes just after owner Blue Note opened a new Times Square venue Sony Hall, focusing on modern music across all genres, last month inside the former Diamond Horseshoe space. The company also operates the Highline Ballroom.
"It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share the news about B.B. King Blues Club's closing. Despite many sold out shows, the location's rent escalated to an unsustainable level, leaving us no choice but to close our doors,” says the club’s COO Tsion Bensusan in a statement.
“Unfortunately this has become a growing trend in New York City, with other iconic music venues and businesses falling victim to opportunistic property owners. This venue's legacy extends much further than the stage, playing a role in Times Square's revitalization two decades ago. It is a shame that wasn't taken into consideration regarding its future in the area.”
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The rapid closing of small music venues and the challenging climate for New York City’s creative community prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to appoint Ariel Palitz as the city’s first-ever Night Mayor, who started the job last month. Palitz is a former nightclub owner and has served on a Community Board, and now oversees a 12-person advisory board that is meeting with local businesses and activists to make its recommendations to the City Council and the mayor’s office.
The final April 29 show at B.B. King will be headlined by blues guitar icon Buddy Guy. Here’s the lineup of remaining performances, with some additional shows are yet to be announced. Tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster.
April 17 & 18: Buddy Guy
April 22: William Bell's Memphis Soul Revue
April 23: Rick Ross
April 25: Slick Rick & Doug E. Fresh + Special Guests
April 26: El Gran Combo
April 28: George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic + Special Guests
April 29: Buddy Guy