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Friday, July 24, 2015

NKY Music Scene: Bogart's...40 Years Of Music

The Ramones, U2, Prince, Iggy Pop, Devo, Earl Scruggs, James Brown, Lou Reed, The Police, King Crimson, Talking Heads, Stone Temple Pilots. What do they all have in common? They have all played at Bogart's in Cincinnati.

This year is the 40th anniversary of one of the areas greatest venues for local, national and international music. Band names that have performed at Bogart's are written on the walls like a badge of honor. As the General Manager, Michael "Fin" Walter's pride of being a part of the place is evident in his smile and stories.

Built in 1890, the venue opened as a vaudeville theater called Nordland Plaza. As America fell under the spell of television in the 1950s, the venue turned into a German film theater and kept the name. Years later it reverted back to a live entertainment and restaurant facility called Inner Circle which didn't last very long. The modern Bogart's that we know and love today was opened in the 1970s.

"I believe that Bogart’s is a place that fans can celebrate the ability to get as close as they can to their favorite, or soon to be favorite, acts" said Walter who left 96 Rock as a program director to help guide Bogart's through the 40th anniversary and beyond.  The experience of being this close to an artist and being able to share that experience with an audience of all ages is very unique for a ‘nightclub’ set up.  We love seeing parents here with their kids making connections that very few other experiences can offer." 

 "There are a couple of things that I believe continue to make Bogart’s a destination for music lovers," Walter added.  The diversity of our programming always has been, and continues to be, a hallmark of the club and a mission statement for its talent buyers. I remember stretches back during my previous tenure where it would not be uncommon to see B.B. King, GWAR, The Indigo Girls, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, CJSS and Sam Kinison within a few days of one another.  Today, Bogart’s continues to program with that sort of diversity, both musically and beyond, with more varied options including Cincinnati’s own Cin City Burlesque, NWF Wrestling and Crossroad Church services."

Music lovers agree that Bogart's is one of the best venues to see their favorite artists perform.

"I've always enjoyed the intimate setting. Not a bad seat in the house," said John Doubet, long time Bogart's attendee.

Not only is the venue a favorite among concert goers, but the artists that perform there are in love with the place as well.

"The people, fans and staff alike.  We constantly hear positive feedback from the bands about the great ‘energy in the room’ which is a tribute to the fans who come to Bogart’s.  I truly think that they love the fact that we’re ‘still here’, as well, as so many clubs like ours have come and gone over the years.  There’s a comfort in coming to a place where you know you’ve had a great show and then having another one." explains Walter. "Just this past weekend the guitar player for Thomas Rhett was photographed playing at PBS in his classic black and white Bogart’s tee; up on the big screen for all to see.  If you’ll recall, last October, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam quite famously recounted a Bogart’s experience from the stage at U.S. Bank Arena. Lemmy from Motorhead shared a Bogart’s memory with me that I feel like may be best left to the imagination."

Bogart's has always been the perfect venue for bands that have yet to reach large venue status, just getting started in the industry or bands that are openers for acts that are too big for a smaller clubs. It has been a starter club for those bands to cut their teeth and get exposure. Through the years there have even been surprise shows. In 1984, Prince booked the venue for gigs to rehearse his band for his extensive Purple Rain tour.

The celebration of 40 years has been going on all year and will continue to do so with special concerts and events.

"We’ve been hosting Bogart’s 40th Anniversary ‘Flashback’ shows all year long which have been parties featuring lots of tribute bands that cover different artists and nods to Bogart’s history," Walter said. "The Pearl Jam tribute act came in and played the setlist from Pearl Jam’s set back in ’92 and The Pink Droyd guys came in and performed the 40 year old ‘Wish You Were Here’ album start to finish as a tribute to our anniversary. We continue to look for the ‘perfect’ show to celebrate the 40th, knowing that it is very difficult to relegate the celebration to simply one genre. More as it develops but know that we’ll continue celebrating throughout the back half of the year, as well."

Visit Bogart's website for more information or a schedule of events.


  1. Very cool article. Thanks FTM

  2. I don't remember the sidewalk being that wide. Is that new?

    1. new sidewalks, new outdoor lighting, added smoking patio, updated bathrooms, special section for disabilities, upgrades available for VIP seating or suites