While most of Buffalo was celebrating at the St. Patrick’s Day parade yesterday, a boatload of blues music lovers gathered at Laurel & Hardy’s Café at 1388 Broadway on the city’s East Side. The occasion was a fundraiser for Jimmy Camarda, owner of Market Bar, which suffered serious damage from a fire this past winter.
At first, Jimmy thought that the fire was the end of the line for his dream of running a blues bar. But then friends/patrons/blues lovers stepped up and decided to host a benefit to breathe new life into the vanquished Market Bar. Jimmy told me that the fundraiser was super successful, and says that Market Bar will be back, and better than ever. He’s even thinking about taking out the ceiling and opening up the entire place to make it bigger and bluesier than before.
Yesterday, we saw the spirit of Buffalo unfold in the form of some of the best blues musicians playing pro bono for an entire day, as fans of blues filtered in to pay their respects. With a $20 door fee, raffle tickets, auctions, etc., the money flowed in and the momentum built as the hours passed. 97 Rock’s Anita West put it best, when she said, “What we’re looking at here is the nucleus of blues in Buffalo. Blues and jazz clubs are dying all over the country, and here in Buffalo we have some of the best musicians around. We’re doing our part to rebuild Market Bar so that we can keep the musicians playing in this city.”
When I first wrote about Market Bar opening across from The Broadway Market back in September of 2014 (inset left), I remember thinking how special the place was. After mulling over all of the places to open his club, Jimmy chose to take a chance in a neighborhood that could really use a boost. When I heard about the fire, I was dumbfounded. It brought back memories of the tragic fire at The Royal Pheasant/Mixology – where a parking lot sits today. Instead of simply sitting back and watching another inspirational bar simply fade away, Market Bar is being given a second opportunity to do what it does best – provide a home for this city’s best blues musicians who count on these types of venues to play. The fundraiser was also a wonderful opportunity to check out a bar that I was completely unfamiliar with – Laurel & Hardy’s (inset right). The bar is located in close proximity to Market Bar, and happens to sell PBRs for $2 (make a mental note).
I can’t wait until the day that Market Bar opens again. The reopening will not only resound the resilience of Buffalo, it will also be a giant boost for regional blues musicians, who are some of the greatest and most passionate in the land.
Long live the blues in Buffalo NY.