FAREWELL TO AN INSTITUTION

New Jersey musicians did not want this day to come. But it did last night.

The Brighton Bar in Long Branch, NJ is closed for good.

You can hear the sound of hearts breaking all over. This place was an institution, a rare breed. It was truly a room for original bands. Not many in New Jersey cater to bands who write songs. This room attracted bands from all over, just had the coolest vibe. No big space to set up your gear, the “dressing room” barely had any room, it was a narrow club. But damn it was one of the coolest!

I started frequenting Brighton Bar in the summer of 1993, when TM Stevens played there. I would tell myself “One day I will play here” and that wish came true…as TM’s guitar player in 2012!! I was hoping to OPEN for him with my band but on June 16, 2012, the unthinkable happened. I was on stage…at Brighton Bar…with TM and TC Tolliver (drummer w/Plasmatics). The 23-year-old Steve Bello would have been proud of me!

Since that night, I played there a few times with my own band as well as one more show with TM in August 2014. The last time I stepped foot on that stage was June 2017 when I helped a punk band out. Was hoping to play there again but no dice. Was supposed to be me as guest for Tony MacAlpine but I walked away from performing plus Tony was unable to make it, so it worked out for the best.

Last summer, bands were allowed to perform outside the bar, limited seating, the whole nine yards. There were rumblings of “this place may shut down” but we all brushed it off. This place cannot close! But last night, the news came out and all of us started venting on social media about it.

I posted three photos here. The first is when I played with TM in August 2014, the second and third are from September 2020. The very last time I was there was in November last year to see Metal Land play. And I guess that was it, without realizing it.

Sad day for sure..,

Published by steviehimself

Guitarist/guitar teacher/cat lover in New Jersey.

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