The Day the Music Died on Rainey
Rainey Street's only remaining music venue is closing. The Blackheart, known for its solid whiskey menu and music lineups often spotlighting local musicians, will close at the end of April when its lease ends.
"There are so many things we want to say, and need to say, but for now we are going to take this day of rest post a crazy week of hustle to spend a night with our incredibly hardworking staff and friends," the owners announced via Facebook on March 19. "You best believe we’re gonna be celebrating whiskey and Austin music until they take the keys away from us, so please come by and see us in the coming month."
Since opening in 2012, The Blackheart has become a champion of Austin's live music scene. Almost nightly, beloved local bands like the East Side Dandies, Sweet Spirit, and Harvest Thieves take over the cozy stage to deliver epic performances and remind patrons that even on Rainey Street, they're still in the Live Music Capital of the World.
Rachel Citron, owner of Jet or Not Management, manages Harvest Thieves, among other bands, and frequently books shows at the space. "The Blackheart has been a staple in the Austin music landscape since it opened. They've always had a reputation as advocates for local artists, probably because so much of their staff is made up of artists and creatives themselves," she tells CultureMap. "They made a point of cultivating a space where local acts could showcase their music and genuinely be appreciated for it."
Reaction to news of closing was swift, with many local music fans taking to social media to voice their frustration at yet another music venue shuttering. "Everyone I've talked to in the past 24 hours is really disheartened to hear this news, and I think the big fear is what this means for the Austin music scene on a larger scale," Citron continues. "I think everyone is wondering who's next."
In an interview with the Austin Chronicle, co-owner Jeremy Murray said he and his team have been trying to renew The Blackheart's lease for months only to be told it had been acquired by another group. Though it was not confirmed, the Chronicle is reporting that a TABC application for the address includes some of the owners of Lucille, another Rainey Street bar.
Murray, who is also a co-owner of Kitty Cohen's on Webberville Road, told the Chronicle he will likely not reopen The Blackheart in another location. Fans of the bar should make a date for April 27-29, when The Blackheart staff plans to host a blowout goodbye party. Details have yet to be released, but check the bar's Facebook page for updates.