Legendary Court Tavern Reopens With New Manager

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—After two months in limbo, the Court Tavern will reopen on September 4, under the leadership of experienced local music promoter Brittney Dixon, also known as Brittney On Fire.

The first show, called A New Hope, will be kicked off by booked bands Owel, Chemtrail, GayGuy/StraightGuy, Centennials, and Delsea.

Doors open at 7:30pm and the first band is scheduled to go on at 8pm.

The Court Tavern abruptly closed on July 3, after owner Michael Barrood ceased opeartions, saying he was considering selling or renting the building.  Barrood also owns the nearby restaurant and bar, Mike's Courtside.

Barrood still owns both establishments, but former Court manager Rocky Catanese is out and Dixon will get her shot to manage the legendary venue.

Catanese now works at another downtown bar and restaurant, Destination Dogs.

Since 2012, Dixon has been actively managing shows, and the most recent of her roles was music manager at the Scarlet Pub on Easton Avenue, and the Saint in Asbury Park.

“I vow to do everything in my power to keep this building ‘The Court Tavern’ and keep the music scene alive in New Brunswick," Dixon said.  "This venue has been a staple in Central NJ that keeps rock and roll and live original music in our hearts and in our culture."

Dixon is looking to book bands to play there on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of each week.

She and many others are deeply invested in bringing back the thriving music scene that the city of New Brunswick was once so well-known for, and musicians from near and far will now have a place to perform.

"Music, booking shows, and playing shows has been my passion and come to be my life," said Dixon.  "I can’t imagine a more fulfilling job. The New Court Tavern will represent that passion."

While the upstairs section of the Court will remain closed, the basement venue will continue on as a still-living legend with the same distinguished character that kept musicians and their fans coming back for decades.

Alongside other long-gone music venues such as the Melody Bar, The Roxy, the Doll’s Place, and the Budapest Cafe, The Court Tavern played an active role as the springboard for countless local rock, metal, punk, and hip-hop acts since as early as the 70’s, including Patti Smith and the Smithereens, The Bouncing Souls, and the Gaslight Anthem.

Like many other venues within the formerly thriving music scene of New Brunswick, The Court Tavern had its share of struggles due to declining revenue, and the construction of massive parking decks in the surrounding area.

In the 70’s the original Court was torn down to construct Ferren parking deck, and rebuilt across the intersection on which it was originally constructed.

Still today, it remains somewhat isolated, surrounded by a skyscraper and several paarking decks.

Despite several previous closures, and the high costs of doing business, the Court Tavern’s enduring legacy as a landmark for underground music has yet to become merely history.

But if the Court Tavern is to again become a haven for local music, it will be largely up to the community of those who support live music to keep it going.