First of all, let me compliment you on the Tribeca Citizen website. I discovered it some time ago being a fairly recent (four-year) resident of Tribeca and have found it invaluable for keeping abreast of what’s going on in the neighborhood. [Thanks! —Ed.] That out of the way, let me now ask for your assistance in solving a minor mystery which has plagued me since I started reading Tom Shales’s “uncensored” history of “Saturday Night Live.” The book mentions the Blues Bar, a “seedy joint” rented (or bought) by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi just after the show started in 1975 to hold post-post-show parties. I’d love to know where the bar was located (and what’s there now) but the most precise location information I can come up with is that it was “somewhere near Canal St.” Any ideas as to where the original Blues Bar might have been? —Paul C.
The short answer: 282 Hudson (at Dominick), where Cody’s Bar & Grill is located.
The long answer: First, I Googled “‘Blues Bar’ Belushi.” That led to a Wikipedia page that said this: “Following tapings of SNL, it was popular among cast members and the weekly hosts to attend Aykroyd’s Holland Tunnel Blues bar, which he had rented not long after joining the cast. Dan and John filled a jukebox with songs from many different artists such as Sam and Dave and punk band The Viletones. John bought an amplifier and they kept some musical instruments there for anyone who wanted to jam. It was here that Dan and Ron Gwynne wrote and developed the original story which Dan turned into the initial story draft of the Blues Brothers movie […]. It was also at the bar that Aykroyd introduced Belushi to the blues. An interest soon became a fascination and it was not long before the two began singing with local blues bands. Jokingly, SNL band leader Howard Shore suggested they call themselves ‘The Blues Brothers.'”
So then I Googled “Holland Tunnel Blues bar,” which led to sites that may have been useful had they not seemed incredibly spammy. I added “Akroyd” to the search—Google corrected my misspelling—and that somehow led to nysonglines.com/hudson.htm, which pegged the location as 282 Hudson. (I say “somehow” because I’m not quite sure how I landed at the site. Usually I try different variations of words, with quotation marks around phrases.) It also said: “This four-story tenement was home to the Blues Bar, an unlicensed after-hours joint owned by Dan Akroyd where he and John Belushi worked on their Blues Brothers act in 1978-79.”
Googling “282 Hudson” led to the discovery that it’s currently the site of Cody’s, a bar I can’t say I’ve ever been inside. “Housed in a building from the 1880s and once rented by John Belushi for private post-SNL parties, this bar and grill in the western hinterlands of Soho is otherwise unremarkable—which is exactly what its blue-collar regulars want.” Or so says New York magazine‘s listing for Cody’s. New York magazine is a pretty legit source, but I looked a bit more. The evil-yet-handy Google Books had a scan of the February 4, 1985, New York magazine review of a restaurant at 282 Hudson called Sailing. The review says that the space “used to be the Blues Bar, a favorite hangout of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.” That’s good enough for me, but I called Cody’s to make sure, and they confirmed it.
UPDATE: On Facebook, reader Robin Hattiangadi points out that a link within one of the articles I cited leads to a Billboard article with a lot of info on the bar. (The link isn’t to Billboard’s site, FYI.)
UPDATE #2: Read the comments. The question, then, is what was going on at 282 Hudson? If anyone has info that explains the discrepancy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE 7/6: Aykroyd (presumably) set the record straight.
Got a question? Ask away! Just email email@example.com.
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