“There’s a Chance” Smith’s Olde Bar Could Move to Decatur

smiths olde bar

An article in the AJC today reports that Smith’s Olde Bar was granted a lease extension through the end of the year, after owner Dan Nolen was able to renegotiate with the current landlord of its Morningside location before it was put on the auction block on August 28th.

That’s good news for the iconic Atlanta music venue for the time being and Nolen is clear that he hopes to stay at the original location for years to come. But if things don’t work out, there’s also a little something in the article to get Smith’s fans who live around Decatur a bit excited, albeit a bit prematurely.  Bolding is mine…

“There are some new developments in town that have approached us about if we leave, they’d love to have Smith’s. There’s a chance we’d go to Decatur. But that’s all speculation,” Nolen said. “Moving Smith’s would be like moving the Alamo! I’ve got a third of my life invested here. People have met their spouses here. We’ve helped bands achieve superstardom here. It would be very hard to take what we’ve got and duplicate it. But I don’t anticipate that being the case.”

Any thoughts on where Smith’s could set up shop around these parts?

Photo courtesy of Google Streetview

30 thoughts on ““There’s a Chance” Smith’s Olde Bar Could Move to Decatur”

  1. Really? Hmmm. OK, here are my wishes, in order.

    1) Smith’s stays exactly where it is for ever and ever and ever.

    2) SMITHS COMES TO DECATUR. This would be life changing.

    3) I don’t have a third wish except to send all love and luck to Smith’s and to say Come to Decatur!

    1. I thought of that space, too, because of the Fox Bros. connection to Smith’s. I work across the street from Big Tex, and they’re using it for Fox Bros. Catering now, so I don’t know if they’d move that elsewhere to make room for Smith’s.

      Anyway, I’d love it if Smith’s relocated to anywhere in Decatur. It would be awesome to have an Alabama bar here again (Big Tex sorta was).

      As to Crambone’s comment, I’ll admit I’ve never been to a show at either Smith’s or Eddie’s Attic, but from what I know, they cater to different types of acts and clienteles. I think Decatur could definitely use another music venue.

  2. I mean, do we need another venue in Decatur? I guess if they’re doing something dramatically different from what Eddie’s Attic does. Maybe. Seems like a bad idea from a business perspective. And that Maddie’s space has limited parking with no parking nearby. Anyway, what do I care. Wish ’em the best.

      1. A fair point. The only thing is, more music venues does not an Austin make.

        “Do we need another music venue” really means, would we use it? Based on my 20ish years of attending sparsely attended shows at Eddie’s, I doubt Decatur could support another venue. So “support” is the word I should’ve used. Can Decatur support another music venue? We’re barely supporting one–two if you count Java Monkey…I could be missing others.

        1. The musicians that have the style and grace to play Eddies is but a sliver of the universe of great acts that we have in Atlanta or come through Atlanta. I’d ask you to look at the line-up of bands that play Smiths in any given month and report back as to the % of them that would have the potential to play Eddies. I bet that % would be less than 20. Maybe if, as you say, we “barely” support Eddies it’s because they don’t offer a wide enough variety of music for us. So if Smiths offered different varieties of music it actually shouldn’t impact Eddies much. And as pointed out, sometimes you need a “critical mass” of venues to create a true music location. Maybe if we had more venues it would actually help Eddies. I’d be happy if we had a chance to find out.

  3. Man, I’d love it if Smith’s moved here. I’ve never much liked their location (though I get the long history). And I don’t think being near Eddie’s would be a problem at all. Smith’s currently is less than a mile away from Red Light Cafe and not that much further from venues on North Highland. No matter where they went there would be other venues nearby. Regardless, most of the time when you’re deciding who to go watch on any given night, who’s actually playing is going to take a higher priority than mere proximity.

  4. “I mean, do we need another venue in Decatur?”

    Eddie’s is alright if you like mandolins.

    1. If that’s a shout-out to that terrific old Fear song about NYC, you have earned Squirrel-headed Bastard’s coveted Post-of-the-Day award.

  5. Rhanks DM. This is the first time I’ve heard of Smiths Old Bar. Just goes to show how some people are sooooo out of touch.

  6. What about somewhere in Avondale? For a destination business like this, why would they want pay the Decatur rent/taxes? It’s not like someone walking in the square is all the sudden going to decide to attend a concert.

    Maybe they could move into the Pinups space – they already have a stage!

  7. Speaking as musician who has played at Smith’s, Eddie’s and Big Tex, I can tell you that (a) Decatur and Atlanta more generally are as dead as you can get for (non-rap) music and (b) Smiths will not succeed in Decatur. The patrons of Smith’s are largely midtown types who see us as lame, over-the hill parents. They won’t come out here.

    Atlanta’s live music scene can never been like Austin’s because of the way the city segregated itself after the Civil Rights Act. The natural market for rock and other live music was dissipated and scattered across the outer suburbs, and aside from a few venues with a dedicated clientele, it just plain sucks to be a musician in this place.

    1. I obviously can’t speak to your experience, so won’t pretend to. I will say that it doesn’t square with what I see (as a live music fan who can’t sing or play a lick). Look at EAV with the Earl, 529, and the Basement. Or L5P with Variety, Aisle 5, and Star Bar. Throw in an up and coming WonderRoot, what seems to be a thriving Terminal West, and lots of other places, large and small, and it seems to me like ATL has a lot to offer. Sure, many of these places have had (continue to have) their struggles, but part of that is just the nature of the beast. Anyway, if ATL is as “dead as you can get,” it’s still strikes me as pretty damn good.

      Man Man tonight baby.

      1. I should distinguish between touring, starvation, and working music. Touring music is not too bad in ATL, as you say. Starvation music – kids living the dream until they can’t anymore – has a few slots around town. But for working local musicians – those who play in the pubs, restaurants, and small local venues – ATL is one of the worst markets in the Southeast. Many regional cities have music “districts” where there are dozens of clubs and styles of music. Here there is none of that. So unless you’re a kid still willing to starve, a bigshot who tours, or someone with connections to the local music “mafia” that controls access to the few live venues and festivals – including those in Decatur – you can forget it.

        In other words, look at if from the perspective of musicians, not punters of venue owners, and you may see what I mean. It has a lot to do with the economic geography of Atlanta.

        1. This seems like a terrific opportunity to point out that there’ll be no mafia control of the Oakhurst Porchfest. Anyone who wants to play can play. All you gotta do is sign up.

          Granted, this is an all volunteer festival so we don’t offer a whole lot of income incentive to the working musician but we’re hoping that’ll be offset by a preponderance of love.

          1. Well, Ted, if you’re not already spoken for, you’re welcome to my porch for Porchfest. Regardless, I’d love to bend your ear further about your perspective on the music scene in ATL one day.

          2. Actually, I did sign up, but when I hit “submit” the form just reappeared. I didn’t get a confirmation, so I’m not sure whether I succeeded. I guess I’ll try again …

            1. Please do, Ted. We continue to get sign-ups so everything seems to be working. Can’t speak for the ghost in the machine but, if it exists, its victims are apparently selective.

    1. If I can get the ONA and/or the DBA to acknowledge, and god willing, actually approve our applications to perform at the various festivals around Decatur, I’ll be sure to let you know. For some reason I never get a response even though I point out I’m a local musician., I suspect they have farmed out their hiring for things like the BBQ Fest, arts and Music Fest, and Jazz nights to agents from the “music mafia.”

      Otherwise you’ll have to truck out to the northern suburbs where the few live venues still hang on and I occasionally play with my own band, the Swamp Funk Quartet.

      I also perform for hire (i.e. not with my own band but as a mercenary) with bands and shows at places like Northside Tavern, Darwin’s, Steve’s Live Music, Red Light Cafe, and similar places.



  8. Besides going out for a fabulous meal then to Eddies Attic to sit perfectly still and face forward while quietly listening to the musicians play their music, what else is there to do in Decatur? SOB could liven the place up a bit for sure.

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