We just heard The Back Room is closing but this time it's not going anywhere—owner John Yurt is retiring. Its last night is August 17 with Albert Castiglia; the last night for Junior Drinkwater is this Saturday, August 11.
I remember when the first Back Room opened in 1992 on West Atlantic Avenue as a key club in a dicey neighborhood—but that first one was my favorite location. Back then, there wasn't much in Delray—Boston's, The Sail Inn (Elwood’s wouldn’t open for another year), and not much else as I recall. The Back Room had great music, a low-key shabby kind of living room atmosphere, and there was this great mix of black and white people hanging out—which was rare even that recently. It felt like it could have been on Beale Street or in New Orleans but it was here, in Delray, and we had a place to go.
Over the years, the club has moved several times; most recently it was on West Atlantic and Congress Avenues. Before that, it was over on Old Dixie Highway. It's always had a loyal following, people who loved the blues, and it's also always had great local and touring acts—I saw Janeva Magness a few years ago and she was great. I also remember the party it had for Haiti's earthquake relief, when we all dropped off bags and bags of supplies in the back behind its Dixie Highway location.
We all know Delray is the Most Fun Small Town in America. I know we have great dining and star chefs and valet parking and new hotels. But I hope we aren't losing the kind of places with great live music that gave it its character—places like Elwood's and City Limits and Ernie's and now, The Back Room. I hope John Yurt does well and is happy—as happy as he has made all of us over the years. I also hope this isn't another Day The Music Died kind of thing.
Because that's a trend Delray Beach should seriously think about reversing...