By Roger Barrett
If you’re looking for a nighttime hang-out spot to get a drink, meet a friend, see live music, then seek out The Lightbulb Club. The Lightbulb Club has been a Fayetteville home for Arkansas’ experimental, punk, indie and underground bands and artists for decades and counting. It’s the venue you’re most likely to discover a local band, catch a touring act, find a favorite drink, or run into a new friend. The Lightbulb Club is currently adding a new cocktail menu featuring local ingredients from the Farmers market, new beers, new 18 and up shows, movie nights, and more.
I asked Lightbulb Club owner Wade Ogle some questions about the bar, here goes…
1. Give us a brief history of The Lightbulb Club?
The Lightbulb Club or “JR’s Lightbulb Club” opened as a basement bar in September 1989. My friend Jimmy Rapert started it and is the actual “J.R.” from the name. Originally, he showcased local acoustic acts. In the early 90’s, Chris King took over the booking and started having local, regional and national bands. I began working there in 1993 and took over the booking around 1999. Around 2008 (memory fails), we moved from 21 N. Block to the room we renovated (and currently occupy) right next door at 19 N. Block, which is next to Sound Warehouse near the downtown Square.
2. What’s changed over the years and what’s stayed the same?
Over the years, The Lightbulb Club has gone from a small basement bar/venue to a two-level bar/venue & pizza restaurant. Then, we moved and were just a bar (no live music) and finally back to small bar/venue. What’s remained the same is the general aesthetic, live music, a locals-based crowd and reasonable drink prices.
3. What are the advantages of owning a bar and venue on Block St?
I’m not sure everyone would see it as a business advantage, but we really like being away from the main drag on Dickson. A lot of our regulars are local musicians and artists who do shows here. Our business neighbors are all nice people. There’s just a nice sense of community on Block. Plus, parking is free at night!
4. What types of bands are you interested in bringing to The Lightbulb Club?
Just the same as we’ve always done -Indie/underground/weirdo/whatever. Original bands -Local, regional, national.
5. What’s new at the bar?
We went non-smoking earlier this year. You can smoke on the patio but it’s been nice not having it indoors. We’ve got a cool new drink menu one of the bartenders put together. We recently did some painting and other mild updates. We’re also adding more local and regional craft beers.
6. What upcoming shows and events can students look forward to seeing?
The show I’m most excited about is Rose Windows (on Thursday September 12) They’re this great band from Seattle that have just released this incredible debut record on Sub Pop Records. It’s like Jefferson Airplane meets Black Sabbath. Very heady and cinematic. Plus Stardeath And White Dwarfs, which is Wayne Coyne’s (Flaming Lips) nephew’s band, are on the bill. That will be a great show.
Some upcoming events:
8/31: Future Day + Collin vs. Adam
9/01: Faceflix Presents… movie night
9/12: Rose Windows + Stardeath and White Dwarfs
9/21: The Couch
9/28: JR’s 24th Birthday Party!
10/07: Netherfriends + Moon Magnet
11/15: Water Liars