The Warehouse

image description
October 2012, 1820 Tchoupitoulas

Photo Credit: Photograph taken by Nicholas Sackos

Contributors

The Venue

The Warehouse venue was a small warehouse located on 1820 Tchoupitoulas street of New Orleans, Louisiana in the Warehouse District. Beaver Productions, who today is still a dominant production company, birthed The Warehouse. It reigned over the music scene from 1970 until 1982. It housed some of the most infamous musicians to date, such as Joe Cocker, The Grateful Dead, Styx, Black Sabbith, B.B. King, The Who, Bob Marley, The Allman Brothers, Rush, Peter Frampton, Alice cooper, Humble Pie, The Doors, Santana, ZZ Top, etc.

Countless influential musicians played at the venue but the Warehouse itself was anything less than fancy. According to “Scoot in the Morning,” a radio DJ for WRNO and concert promoter for The Warehouse, “It was the rawest venue in town. It was a gutted old brick warehouse that had concrete floors and no air conditioning.” Scoot described the demographic to be people in 18-35 age group. Scoot explained, “you would probably describe the crowd as hippies.” [1]

The Musicians

If there was such a thing as a house band for The Warehouse, it was the Allman Brothers. Sidney Smith, the photographer of The Warehouse, recalls, “There was something very magical about the Allman Brothers playing at The Warehouse. You just can’t put it into words. There was no curfew at The Warehouse, and they would play into the wee hours, then go back and play in the bar, then come out into the park and play for free the next day. They were addicted to playing.” Randie Savoie reminisced on the great musicians that played at the venue, “As an epochal moment in rock history, December 12, 1970 garnered little national attention at the time. It turned out to be Jim Morrison’s last concert with The Doors, and it was at The Warehouse.” [2]

Another historical moment occurred when The Grateful Dead played on opening night of January 30, 1970 with Fleetwood Mac and a band from Chicago named the Flock. According to Dennis McNally, author of a Dead biography, A Long Strange Trip, “On opening night the band felt like their performance was a disappointment and that Fleetwood Mac bested them. The band decided to head down to Bourbon Street and drown their sorrows. Next thing the band knew, it seemed like the entire NOPD was there crashing their post-concert party. By the end of the night, 19 people associated with the band found themselves in Central Lockup. A memorable incident that inspired the song ‘Truckin.’” [3]

Scoot specifically remembers the time Joe Cocker drank too much champagne backstage at his concert and threw up in mid-song without skipping a beat. Scoot explained, “This was the type of band that played at The Warehouse, raw, edgy, yet talented. A lot of successful bands got their start at the venue.” [4]

The Aesthetics

Cynthia Galloway, who was a patron of the venue, described the physical appearance. “It was a big red warehouse. There was no seating. I think there was one row of bleachers and sometimes they brought in hay stacks for people to sit on. There was a tiny bar upstairs and the place was always filled with smoke and smelled like marijuana. Oh yeah, and there was no air-conditioning. Only big blowers at the front door there to blow smoke out.” [5]

According to another attendee, Vincent Liberto, “There were no other businesses or bars open anywhere around it; this is probably why the venue was located where it was, because they were able to play music as loud as they wanted and not bother anybody, and nobody bothered us. The cops didn’t care what went on there as long as there was no trouble, fighting, etc. The building was small, hot, smelled and was always full of smoke.” [6]

David Altmeyer, a Warehouse patron, said, “I remember there was a period of time where if you brought a square of carpet, you would get in for free. Since there was no floor but cement, ya know?” [7] The Warehouse was a raw and nonjudgmental place. Walter Moorehead, a promoter for Atlantic Records, described The Warehouse as free. “When you were in the Warehouse, if you were stripped, it didn’t matter. Everybody got along. That was great intagration. It was the greatest venue of that era I have ever seen.” [8]

Experiences

Galloway ranted about memorable times at The Warehouse. “There was this one time we went to the Warehouse to see The Who. We wanted to sit on the rafters since it was easier to see. Well, I was on Acid at the time so when I got up there I freaked. I thought I wasn’t ever going to get down so I started yelling. The band actually stopped the show and helped. The literally gathered every chair they had behind the stage and stacked it up like a ladder to help me get down. I could never forget that.” [9]

Vincent Liberto, an occasional attendee of The Warehouse, when asked about what he remembered about the venue, said, “There was always a party outside of the venue. Many people couldn’t fit inside so we all just took over outside and the streets. There were always people running down the street streaking too. I’ll never forget that. Even though the acoustics were so low quality, the music was loud enough to hear outside so there was no point standing inside where it’s hot, stinky, and dirty.” [10]

Building & Site

The Warehouse building located at 1820 Tchoupitoulas was formerly a cotton & coffee warehouse before Beaver Productions bought and gutted the building in October 1969 located at 1820 Tchoupitoulas. “Recalling the Warehouse,” Times-Picayune, published as The Times-Picayune, Date: 02-6-2000 The 27,000 square foot brick warehouse was infamous for not having air conditioning. Despite this fact, the overhead costs of running the venue, in addition and booking talent forced Beaver Productions to shut The Warehouse doors in 1983. Sherman, Bill. “Beaver Inc. Closes Doors of Riverfront Warehouse.” Times-Picayune, 09-03-1973, pg. 17 Classifieds. Times-Picayune, published as The Times-Picayune; Date: 08-17-1986; pg. 139 After it’s demolition in April of 1989, the land was used for larger infrastructural project allowing Felicity Street to cut through the levee wall, run alongside the river and provide better truck access to and from the I-10 highway to the riverfront port buildings. The wedge of land that formerly housed the successful music venue is now a vacant field with the two-lane extension of Felicity Street running through it. As of October 2012, the former owners are raising money and speaking with the city about placing a plaque at this location to preserve the memories of the venue.

Conclusion

The Warehouse was known for it’s raw, edgy, high profile performers. It was also respected and remembered for it’s raw and edgy aesthetics. In Scoot’s opinion, “A venue like The Warehouse could never exist today simply because of codes and regulations.” [11] Everybody got along and was happy to be there. An employee of The Warehouse, Michael Brinkman, explained, “most of the people that went there were good, solid, peace-loving freaks. It was our place to get away.” [12]

The Warehouse was the only venue in town that had such historic musicians pass through. Brian Stoltz explains, “before The Warehouse, the only shows we ever got were The Beatles in 1964 and Jefferson Airplaine in 1967.” [13] This old abandoned warehouse will go down in history as one of the most grungy yet history making venues of the South.

Works Cited

  • Scoot. WRNO. Interview. 2001
  • Savoi, Randy. “The Warehoue: The Fillmore South.” Offbeat Magazine. 1 January 2010.
  • Savoi, Randy. “The Warehoue: The Fillmore South.” Offbeat Magazine. 1 January 2010.
  • “Scoot in the Morning.” WRNO. 2011
  • Galloway, Cynthia. Interview. November 2011
  • Vincent Liberto. Interview. November 2011.
  • David Altmeyer. Interview. 2011.
  • Moorehead, Walter. Atlantic Records. ‘The Warehouse – New Orleans; interview.
  • Galloway, Cynthia. Interview. November 2011.
  • Liberto, Vincent. Interview. November 2011.
  • Scoot. WRNO. Interview. 2011.
  • Brinkman, Michael. “The Warehouse – New Orleans.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z3XBNKRajg.
  • Stoltz, Brian. The Warehouse – New Orleans. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z3XBNKRajg.

This page was last modified on 04 May 2012, at 09:48

VIEW PLACE PROFILE

The Warehouse

1820 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans LA