J&J's Basement Will Reopen

The final week of shows in J&J's Basement is as memorable as Toadies' final show at Bronco Bowl in 2001. Dentonites thought they had seen the following message for the last time:

3 bands
No cover
Schlitz, baby

Rest in peace to their mentions and email inbox. That Facebook post announcing the return of the basement was shared 196 times, so there is a small bit of evidence that this town is excited to have its creaky performance space back after its final shows were held in August of 2016.

J&J's was opened by Jamie Ham and the late Joe Vulpitta (read his story here), and the restaurant moved to the Square in 2001. Vulpitta and friends worked through odd hours of the night to bring the basement up to city code before opening it up as a venue with open-minded booking. 

"The J&J's Basement was an institution. It was the kind of space that welcomed (and fed) touring acts and locals of most every genre," musician Claire Morales said. When it closed, it felt like part of a bigger loss in Denton music as we watched several venues close within a few years. The reopening is such an unexpected surprise and some good news for the scene. I hope it’s still creaky and dirty when it opens again!"

Fishboy's most recent album Art Guards was directly inspired by that creaky and dirty performance space. The setting for the ending track, "Final Frontman" takes place at J&J's where a downtrodden singer performs with his band before a food fight happens. Fishboy's frontman Eric Michener regards the Basement as a community meeting space for people of all musical types and genres.

Fishboy performing at J&J's Basement
Photo by Mateo Granados

"It’s a great place for anyone to come and meet without any sort of baggage or preconceived notions about what they want the show to be," Michener said. "It’s a little bit more inviting than a house show because you’re not going to a strangers house, and it’s a little more intimate than a normal venue. Everyone’s in it together to have a good time, and it’s right in the middle of town."

The revival of J&J's Basement begins Friday, December 22 with Denton Comedy Festival 2.0, which will feature Josh Johnson and a secret headliner. The next evening Richard Haskins headlines an unplugged show with Lydia Low and Brandon Dowd

UPDATE: The Dentonite received a text from Jessie Ham with a few tidbits. A new PA is expected to be set up in early January, and the Ol' Dirty Basement will have air conditioning.  

Header image photographed by Emily Cline
Additional photograph by Mateo Granados
Header image layout designed by Mateo Granados