Nosy Neighbor: Where Was the Original Blues Bar?

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 tribecacitizen@gmail.com.

UPDATE 7/6: Aykroyd (presumably) set the record straight.

Got a question? Ask away! Just email tribecacitizen@gmail.com.

Recent “Nosy Neighbor” posts:
Who are the guys in the geeky pants?
Why are the windows above Ponte’s boarded up?
Can we walk on the West Street medians?
What’s going on in 157 Hudson?
What’s the new painting at 153 Hudson?
What’s up with 55 Warren/55 Murray?
What is this P.C. Richard & Son Theater I keep hearing about?
What’s the story behind the lights at 289 Church?
What’s the Dream House at 275 Church?

5 Comments

  1. The Blues Bros bar was located at the SE corner of Warren St & Greenwich.
    It was the former Mickys, a popular watering hole of the time. It was in the ground floor of a 5 story building that stood alone with wrap around parking lots.
    From there it was clear open space to the river. That building was torn down @ 1985. i was an artist living in a ground floor loft 1st bldg up Warren from it then & still am.

  2. @jbilger: Hmm…. Trying to track down as to why Cody’s would come up so often. If anyone has any ideas/knowledge, please email tribecacitizen@gmail.com. Thanks!

  3. Jbilger is correct. Mickey’s became the SNL after show hangout, Blues Bar. Mickey’s bartenders were Ace (Andreas) and Gary who later opened The Raccoon Lodge and became the namesakes of SNL cartoon characters, The Ambiguously Gay Duo. Local gossip was that Belushi’s widow sold the property after his death. (don’t know if this is true)

  4. My friends all hung out and/or worked at Sailing at 282 Hudson in the early ’80’s and we were always told it had been the Aykroyd Belushi bar in its previous incarnation.

  5. I worked at 250 Hudson St. Corner of Hudson and Dominick. Knew the owners of Sailing and the building , that was home for the Akryd and Belushi bar. They had closed circuit cameras at the side entrance, Harley’s parked on the sidewalk. Prior to the blues bros the bar was blue collar. The longshoremen had a shape up facility across the street back in the day. When the docks closed so did the bar. The space became available and Holland Tunnel Blues Bar was established shortly after. That bar was not open the public. In the late 70’s early 80’s Sailing was established afterJohn’s death.