The Southern Blues Bar developed out of a musicians club formed by some blues enthusiasts in the 1980s. Originally it was only for the members of the club, but eventually it was turned into a commercial venture. By the 1990s ,when I spent a bit of time there because I had a friend who played in a band, it was booming.
It catered to the really late night crowd, having got a 24-hour licence on the basis that it was a musicians club – and musicians go out to relax after they finish working, late at night. The clientele included everyone from bikies, to local musicians, to … librarians. Some famous names performed there, Charlie Musselwhite, and Robert Lockwood Jnr. for example, as well as a lot of local talent.
Thursday night was jam night. Originally this was to encourage the talented, but shy, members of the club to get up and perform. Over the years though, it fostered quite a lot of amateur talent. I remember going to hear a friend who was doing a jazz course at Hagley Community College. She and her classmates got up and performed there for the first time in public, an opportunity they were unlikely to get anywhere else. Sadly the earthquake was it’s downfall and it was demolished in December 2010.
All may not be lost though. Already somebody has organised a “Southern Blues Bar Revisited” at the Sandridge Hotel. You can find out more about the Southern Blues Bar in this article from New Zealand Blues Society website.