It’s been an uneasy week for live music lovers in New Orleans as several longtime venues and popular newcomers all experience shakeups. Gasa Gasa, Freret Street’s beloved indie music venue, has closed its doors following a final show this week — two years after reopening with new owners. D.B.A., a 23-year mainstay of Frenchmen Street nightlife, has changed hands. Breakaway’s, a relatively new bar, restaurant, and venue in the Marigny, closes its doors for good.
Gambit first reported on the developing situation at Gasa Gasa, which patrons noticed began offloading scheduled shows to other venues early this week. While rumors of an impending closure swirled, some staff told Gambit that employees were planning a walkout after weeks of late pay, while others attested that the venue was shutting down and employees were being laid off because owners were unable to keep up with payroll. A GoFundMe organized for the former staff of the 10-year-old venue asserts that the closure is due to “the owners not being able to afford to keep it open and unable to sell the business,” and that employees were alerted 24 hours in advance of the closure this week. Gambit reports that Gasa Gasa’s current owners, a group that bought and reopened the bar in 2021 after its founders put it up for sale early on in the pandemic, are attempting to sell the venue.
About five miles downriver, D.B.A., a staple of live music on Frenchmen Street for more than 20 years, announced a group of experienced new owners this week. The news comes a few years after founder Tom Thayer first put the business and building up for sale, though he later held onto the bar, opting instead to expand with a second, open-air live music venue on Frenchmen Street. Now, according to a press release, Thayer has sold D.B.A to a group of new owners made up of fellow Frenchmen Street music venue proprietors: Cheryl Abaña and Bradley Clement, the management team at the Spotted Cat for the past 13 years; William Douglas Emmer, a co-owner of the Spotted Cat, and Sophie Lee Lowry, the sole owner of Three Muses and a local musician.
The group plans to refresh the food menu and introduce “innovative” events, the press release says, while “maintaining a commitment to showcasing live music.” D.B.A. is remaining open during the transition.
Meanwhile, Breakaway’s has closed a little less than a year after its promising debut in the former home of Lost Love Lounge, owner Paul Artigues confirmed to Eater. Artigues, who previously led the kitchen at the hit French Quarter restaurant Green Goddess, opened the low-key bar and restaurant with his wife Olivia Artigues in January 2022 with a menu of “things that people in New Orleans grew up with, dishes my grandmother made,” Artigues said at the time. It kept Lost Love’s moody dive bar vibe and scrappy music venue feel while being very well-received for Artigues’ food, which included vegan versions of local staples like red beans and rice and green gumbo — as well as the original versions — and for being an increasingly rare late-night option.
Another New Orleans entertainment venue, Music Box Village, faces a less certain future. The all-outdoor, amphitheater-like venue in the Ninth Ward that hosts music, theater, and events within a maze of extraordinary art and music installations, canceled the remainder of its 2023 season earlier this month. New Orleans Airlift, the nonprofit that administers the Music Box, is hoping to reopen the venue in 2024 amid a change in leadership, the New Orleans Advocate/Times-Picayune reports, but a spring reopening date has not been set.