Tuesday, October 31, 2017

HiFi’s last stand

[HiFi's Mike Stuto]

On Oct. 18, Mike Stuto, the co-owner of the HiFi on Avenue A between 10th Street and 11th Street, announced that the bar would close at the end of October after 15 years. HiFi closed after service on Sunday.

In a letter posted on his Facebook page, Stuto said that business had been off, noting that the weekend bar crowd was "mostly indifferent to the place." He also stressed that the closure had nothing to do with the landlord, a management company that he said has been "ideal ... in pretty much every sense of the word."

The bar opened in 2002, after a 13-year run as the rock club Brownies, where Stuto started booking shows in 1994.


Text and photos by Dan Efram

After 23 years, the Mike Stuto-helmed bar HiFi (previously Brownies) has closed its doors for the last time. Stuto, who fostered community and literal harmony, set up one last hurrah this past Thursday with its popular series "Under Your Influence," a monthly live-music tribute. Thursday evening's show was titled "The Final Chapter: Tom Petty."

"Mike Stuto has always a strong advocate for bands/acts he likes," relays Dave Foster, who, along with Adam Rubenstein, John Brodeur and Mike Fornatale, co-produced this specific "Under Your Influence" show. "From back when it was Brownies he put my band Bubble on bills with acts I'm still friendly with… to HiFi where it’s been a musical home away from home for a lot of the NYC indie music folks. The quality was always top notch."

Some of the featured singers on the final tribute night included Gabrielle Sterbenz (Wheatus), Travis Morrison (of The Dismemberment Plan), Beth Wawerna (Bird of Youth), Matt Keating, John Brodeur (Bird Streets), Don Piper (A Don Piper Situation); Rembert Block, Erica Smith, Lizzie Edwards (Murderer’s Row); Steve Shiffman (The Land of No), Freedy Johnston, Dave Derby (Gramercy Arms), Graham Norwood, Tony Zajkowski (Lotion), Richie Birkenhead (Youth of Today, Into Another), and Adam Rubenstein, among many others.

[Adam Rubenstein, Jeff Litman, Gabrielle Sterbenz]

[Joanna Choy]

[Travis Morrison]

[Jeff Litman and Gabrielle Sterbenz]

[Matt Keating with Murderer's Row]

[Don Piper, singer, songwriter and longtime live sound engineer]

"Most of us have so many wonderful memories playing Brownies," says guitarist and original Under Your Influence instigator Adam Rubenstein. "Our shared fondness of that place and Stuto made every Under Your Influence feel like a reunion of old friends. I will miss it."

Previously on EV Grieve:
The HiFi Bar, home of NYC's best jukebox, is closing at the end of the month


Pinch said...

He should open a space with JUST the photo booth in it; business would boom with all of the people who love to take photos of themselves🤦🏼‍♂️

Mike Fornatale said...

Thanks for writing this, Dan...AND for spelling my name correctly. No small thing, and I always make note of it. :)

Anonymous said...

I loved Brownie's. So bittersweet for me to think about the circa 2000 East Village.

Anonymous said...

Nice work, Dan E! - from an admirer of you + HiFi both.