Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The Bottom Line was an intimate music venue in New York City's Greenwich Village, at 15 West Fourth Street between Broadway and Washington Square Park. During 1970s, it played a major role in maintaining Greenwich Village's status as a cultural mecca. Owned by Allan Pepper and Stanley Snadowsky, the Bottom Line originally opened February 12, 1974. It enjoyed a multi-year string of success at pulling in major musical acts and at premiering new talent. Bruce Springsteen played legendary show-case gigs and Lou Reed recorded the album there. Harry Chapin even held his two-thousandth concert at Bottom Line in January 1981. The Bottom Line hosted mainly folk music, playing home to Loudon Wainwright III and others, but also hosting acts ranging from Dolly Parton to Ravi Shankar to the Ramones.The Bottom Line held 400 people and differed from modern clubs in that there was seating, rather than being standing room only. The club also had a no smoking policy long before it became law.

In later years, it was the site of In Their Own Words: A Bunch Of Songwriters Sittin' Around Singing, a series of performances with commentary organized by and initially hosted by radio personality Vin Scelsa. Another staple was the annual "Downtown Messiah", a reworking of Handel’s work, directed by Richard Barone. Around Christmas, musicians like Vernon Reid and David Johansen made “Messiah” their own. Another recurring event was the Beat Goes On, in which performers covered pop songs falling under a certain theme, such as songs from a certain time period or Christmas songs. The Beat Goes On brought out many different performers including Fountains of Wayne, Richard Lloyd and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch's John Cameron Mitchell. It was also the site, in April 1995, of four concerts by Joan Baez in which she collaborated with a number of female performers, including Dar Williams, Janis Ian, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Indigo Girls, and Mary Black, the results of which were recorded and relased as the album "Ring Them Bells".

Its cachet faded with time, and by 2003 it was deeply in debt ($190,000 in back rent, plus several hundred thousand dollars in other expenses) and garnering very little attendance. Its landlord, New York University (NYU) kept the its rent at prevailing levels but the cost was too much and threatened eviction. Fans Karen and Carmine DeMarco started a petion at in support of the club on their [ website] . Bruce Springsteen offered to pay the club’s back rent if NYU and the owners could settle on a lease. Sirius Satellite Radio offered the same but, rather than risk a takeover, Pepper and Snadowsky closed the club before they could be kicked out. The last show was on January 22, 2004, just shy of the club’s thirtieth anniversary. The building now houses NYU classrooms.

Pepper and Snadowsky claim to be seeking another venue that will carry the same name. They keep the website going, updating sporadically and using the site as an official history of the club and to sell merchandise, including t-shirts. On February 12, 2007, they announced on the [ Bottom Line Corporate Website] they will release of a box set of archive footage on Koch Records. The box set is currently in preproduction.


* [ Bottom Line Corporate Website]
* [ USA Today, "N.Y.'s famous Bottom Line gets reprieve", Oct 23, 2003.]
* [ The Villager, "The Bottom Line tries to avoid end of the line", Oct 29, 2003.]
* [, “CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; The Bottom Line, a Place Where the Music Always Came First”, Jan 26, 2004]

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