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New Eugene venue Old Nick’s is three music buffs’ labor of love

It’s been Harpo’s Blue Note, the Butte Tavern, Rascal’s and a warehouse for Gibson Steel. But thanks to the efforts of a team of three musicians and music promoters from around Eugene, the lonely, old warehouse that sits at 211 Washington will return to its rock club roots as Old Nick’s, Eugene’s newest music venue.

Emily Nyman, Tim Kinney and Jevon Peck envision the 150-capacity space as a stepping stone between bars and larger venues like W.O.W. Hall. In addition to performances, Nick’s will feature food (courtesy of Peck), a skateboard check (like a coat check) to attract patrons from WJ Skatepark, and even a live video feed of the bike racks to ensure patrons can enjoy their experience with no fear of bike bandits.

The trio has been discussing starting a music venue ever since they met at Tiny Tavern, where Nyman had organized a concert and Kinney and Peck were working. Though their dream is rapidly coming a reality, they’ve had their fair share of setbacks. Originally slated to open this month, the club is now tentatively scheduled for a December opening.

“With construction you have to go through a lot of processes, and there’s inspections and permits on top of those, so it always takes a lot longer than you think,” said Kinney.

If the venue’s location is any indication, it should pay off. Old Nick’s is located between downtown and the Whiteaker, very close to the WJ Skatepark and the all-ages venue, The Boreal. They hope to attract spillover from all four of these places, and they also hope to correspond with the Boreal to prevent any competition. As Nick’s will be 21-and-up, the owners hope bands can play all-ages sets at the Boreal and then cross over to Nick’s for a boozier bill.

The trio sees Nick’s as a more music-oriented alternative to the bars that dominate the live circuit in Eugene.

“A lot of bars are very choosey about what they play,” Nyman said. “Some of the more aggressive genres of music tend to drive people out of the bars.”

“There are bars that have music,” said Peck. “We’re an entertainment venue that happens to have a bar.”

Peck sees the lack of such venues as the main issue with the Eugene music scene. He cites the recent closure of John Henry’s and the Lazarus Pit, both respected Eugene rock venues, as a major motivator for starting Old Nick’s.

“This is a city of artists without enough places to play,” Peck says. “That’s silly. There’s a built-in market.”

Local artists are likewise looking forward to the opening of the venue–not only as a place to play, but as a place that could attract major touring names.

“I think it will be an integral part of the scene,” said Abram Hurd of Eugene metal band Rye Wolves. “We need places for bands from around the world to come to play. I’m really excited for it. People can take Eugene a little more seriously when they come through here.”

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Daniel Bromfield

Daniel Bromfield

Daniel Bromfield is a writer for the Arts & Culture desk of the Emerald, specializing in music. He maintained the SF Rebirth blog in San Francisco from 2010-2013, and his work has appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, KWVA, and the Oregon Voice.