Remember When: The SBC Nightlife Of The Past
The Shreveport-Bossier area has a long history of festive nightlife. It also has a long history of here-today-gone-tomorrow bars and clubs. Some were open barely a year before they went the way of the dodo, and some were legendary hangouts that stayed for years before being closed for one reason or another.
There are so many night spots out there that still stick in the collective memories of long-time SBC residents, so I put out some feelers on social media to find out what favorite watering holes locals remember fondly. My Facebook friend list consists of musicians who played in, proprietors who operated, and fans who partied at various locals around Shreveport-Bossier, and the responses I received have dozens of now-defunct hot spots.
I have narrowed it down to the Top 10 most missed bars and clubs:
Now, I know this isn't just one club, but Shreve Square was the epitome of Shreveport nightlife in the 70s and 80s. Some of the most popular clubs include Sports Page, Humphree's, Steam Boat Annies, and Circle in the Square.
Shreve Square began closing in the late 80s to early 90s and later became the Red River Entertainment District, which still has yet to garner the popularity it once had.
Denim And Diamonds was billed as a Country Dance Club, but D&D featured all sorts of music and even live performances from all genres. Denim And Diamonds closed to become the all ages club "Daddy's Money" and is now Burlington Coat Factory in Shreve City.
From local KJ, musician, and sound engineer Ron Huitt:
I was doing sound for Danny Wilder and Denial at the Centenary Oyster House sometime around 1994. It was a good evening that turned great when this big, Viking looking gent taps me on the shoulder and says, "Hey man, do you think it would be cool if me and my guys could sit-in with the band?" I stopped, half-shocked, and immediately went to Danny. "Danny, these guys would like to jam with you.", pointing to the gents in question. Danny's eyes grew wide, (as mine did), and said, "Oh yes! Definitely yes! Are you kidding me?!". The Viking guy was Zakk Wylde, and his mates would become the Black Label Society in '98. They took over the stage and rocked the place for about an hour and a half. And that, my friends, is how I got to run sound for Zakk Wylde...if only for one night. By the way, Zakk was very cool, and his band-mates were equally awesome. Good times!
Freddie Mac's was one of the many clubs on Commerce Street that featured live music on a huge stage. Local musicians clamored to play in Freddie Mac's. A good time was pretty much guaranteed, and the place was pretty packed every night...even though their biggest competition was right next door (and next on our list).
The name says it all. Owned by Shreveport native, and rock guitar pioneer, James Burton, it featured a tiered stage, good food, and some of the best in local and regional live music. It has since become several different clubs and was a filming location for "The Guardian" starring Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner.
There's something to be said for neighborhood bars that just feel like home. Tequila Willie's was that home for many people off of the Bossier Strip.
There's dives...then there's Lil' Joe's. Lil' Joe's was a restaurant/bar on E. Kings Hwy that had some of the best burgers in town, and some of the loudest live music you could put on a death trap of a stage. It was a smokey hole-in-the-wall where you could go for strong drinks and questionable decisions. It's now a laundromat.
In the early 90's, The Malibu Beach Club was THE place to be. It featured several levels of floor space, each with its own bar and vibe. Out back, the MBC had Malibu Alley with a stage for outdoor shows from national acts such as The Black Crowes among many others. It has been several clubs since it's closing, including Poly Esters. The adjacent building has since been demolished, thereby destroying Malibu Alley.
When bars in downtown Shreveport were cleared to sell alcohol until 6am, few places took advantage of it like Alligator Joe's. With the all-night menu, live music until the wee hours of the morning, and a NOLA vibe, Alligator Joe's marketed itself as the ever present after party.
No list of past clubs would be complete without Tommy's Place. Tommy's Place was the undisputed "Home Of The Monday Night Blues Jam" until its closing. Legendary guitarist Jerry Beach hosted the jam faithfully every week bringing in crowds that you wouldn't think could fit inside just a little building. It was a tiny...I mean TINY bar, but some of Shreveport's finest musicians cut their teeth on that matchbook sized stage including Kenny Wayne Shepherd.