The bleacher seats have been taken out of the back room of Maxwell’s in Hoboken, and there’s a fresh coat of paint on the walls. It doesn’t really look like the same room anymore, which is fitting, since the artists who will play there when it reopens Oct. 24 are very different from the indie-rockers and scruffy punk bands who helped make the club legendary in the ’80s and ’90s.
That’s right. Maxwell’s — which closed amid much fanfare in July 2013 but soon reopened its restaurant room — will be presenting music again in its small but famous back room, under a slightly modified name, Maxwell’s Tavern.
The music will be mostly rock and blues, says co-owner Pete Carr, who bought the club with Evan Dean less than a year ago. “We’re going to try to do rock and blues here basically every Friday and Saturday, and maybe Thursdays we’ll put some comedy in,” he says.
“American Idol” alumna and Kinnelon native Elise Testone, whose music mixes elements of rock, blues and soul, will be the first act, on Oct. 24. New Jersey’s most popular cover band, The Nerds, will add some mischief on the night before Halloween, Oct. 30.
Acts booked for November include the Eric Clapton tribute band, Bell Bottom Blues, on Nov. 7; Murali Coryell, on Nov. 8; Papa J, on Nov. 14; and Michael Powers, on Nov. 15.
Since July 2013, Maxwell’s has hosted occasional entertainment events, including an open-to-the-public Justin Timberlake video shoot and comedy shows as part of the recent Hoboken Comedy Festival.
Taking out the bleachers was a strategic move, allowing the club to bring in tables for certain shows, though the tables can be moved out to create an open floor, depending on the act.
The change in booking strategy was well thought out, too, since Hoboken is no longer the town of struggling artists it was when the original Maxwell’s thrived. Now, you’ve almost got to be a young urban professional to be able to afford a Hoboken address — and, especially, to live in one of the many luxury apartment buildings that have sprung up in recent years in the vicinity of Maxwell’s.
Still, Carr says he wants the club to maintain a connection to its indie-rock roots.
“One of the things that we’re talking about is doing the first Friday of every month as a local indie band night,” he says. “And we’ll probably do the Hoboken Music Awards around Dec. 5 as well.”