Update (5/30): The owner of Nashville’s Douglas Corner says he’s reconsidering closing the music club after a show of support and messages from concerned patrons. “There’s a possibility that it won’t be gone. There’s a possibility I’ll turn things around and I’ll keep it here and keep it going,” Mervin Louque told Nashville’s NewsChannel 5. On Thursday, Louque said the venue was closing after 33 years.
Douglas Corner Cafe, a premier Nashville venue that has hosted performances by artists as varied as Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, Guy Clark, Kevin Costner, Jon Bon Jovi, and Neil Diamond, will close its doors for good after 33 years. A key destination in the city’s Eighth Avenue South neighborhood, the club has been shuttered since March 15th due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Nashville’s subsequent stay-at-home order.
Douglas Corner owner Mervin Louque, a one-time recording engineer who initially partnered with businessman Rick Martin to open the cafe in 1987, announced the permanent closure in a Facebook video. Martin, who was also the longtime road manager for late singer-songwriter David Olney, died in 2015.
“I’ve made so many good friends, dear friends, musicians and regular customers here,” Louque says at the close of the video. “It breaks my heart, but there comes a time when we all need to move on and do other things. And that’s my time now.”
The now-famous artists who played Douglas Corner early in their careers include Alan Jackson, Eric Church, Trisha Yearwood, and Blake Shelton. Guy Clark recorded his 1997 live album, Keepers, at the club, and, as a new recording artist, Garth Brooks hosted his first-ever fan-club party there to a packed house. In early 1989, Keith Whitley shot the music video for his Number One song “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” on the Douglas Corner stage, with the club’s iconic window sign in the background. It was the final single Whitley would release during his lifetime.
Music venues have been particularly hard hit during the COVID-19 crisis. The newly formed National Independent Venue Association told Rolling Stone earlier this month that 90 percent of its 1,300 member venues report they do not have cash on hand to last more than six months without federal intervention, and 55 percent say they do not have enough to last more than three months.