“I met a girl who sang the blues,
And I asked her for some happy news,
But she just smiled and turned away…”
That sums up the scene outside beloved local bar and live music venue Northern Soul Thursday night, as musicians and patrons rallied on the sidewalk in front of the establishment after it was suddenly and shockingly shuttered earlier this week, marking the disappointing end to an era for the artistic haven in Hoboken’s southwestern corner.
Brown was joined by a number of local artists in a musical wake that lasted for hours, livening up an otherwise bleak night in the Fourth Ward.
“I never thought it would end like this,” said Northern Soul’s John McCloskey. “I thought we’d come to some sort of agreement.”
The move to evict the bar comes amidst a protracted legal battle between the bar owners and the landlord.
“Listen, we’ve never once been late with our payments,” said Marc Russell, of Northern Soul. “He [the landlord] is just trying to grab more and more from us.”
The Hudson County Sheriff posted the notice of eviction following a dispute over the painting of the facade. The act of painting over graffiti was construed as a violation of the lease, and the landlord moved for eviction. After initially losing in court, the landlord won a warrant of removal —and the locks were changed without any further notice.
“These people are my friends, they were like family,” said bartender Donal Maguire. “I worked there for years, and now its all gone—just like that.”
“We’re trying to come back,” said Russell. “We wanted to be in that same spot, but if we have to move we’ll move.”
The bar owners have control of the liquor license, which is typically transferable. The landlord, who was unavailable for comment (as of press time), owns the structure at 557 1st Street, as well as several other properties in town that house popular hospitality venues.
As the music community offers its support to Northern Soul, an online petition has been created not by the owners but by passionate patrons voicing their frustration over the seemingly unfair ruling against their artistic social collective/home away from home—collecting over 500 signatures (as of press time):
Northern Soul was a haven for local artists, musicians, community members and dogs. As a result, Northern Soul was always crowded with paying customers and was clearly performing well financially.
If our beloved Northern Soul, a stalwart of the 4th Ward community, found the new financial demands unreasonable, one can only assume that any future establishment to occupy 557 1st Street will meet the same fate. If the space sits vacant for more than six months, we, as concerned citizens, will seek laws that punish landlords who force out tenants due to greed. Empty commercial spaces are of no use to our community and we reject the notion that a popular, successful business had to give way to avarice.
CLICK HERE for more on the petition.