1990s died when ownership of 55 Bar changed, the interesting mural on the south wall gone, and the old and worn wooden tables and chairs, were replaced by newer renditions of such, the likes one finds in more sterile newer environments.
Also, The Knitting Factory on Houston, closed, and went to Varick, in Tribeca, no long the place for creative genius and experimental sounds.
John Zorn had an alternative, called Tonic, on Norfolk, lower East Side, and viewed Elliot Sharp there, a decade ago. Experimental sounds still have their spots providing that Zorn maintains Stone, on Avenue C, though for vintage interiors 55 Bar has changed, and gone another way, for good.
55 Jazz Bar, 55 Christopher Street, across from Sheridan Square, is a bar I began frequenting in 1988, and had become a destination for me and my friends, and even visitors from afar, who came to town.
55 Jazz Bar underwent an ownership change around 2000 or shortly after, and soon the venue’s cozy and rustic dingy dark feel changed.
Gone was the original mural painted directly on the premises wall long before I began visiting the bar, and extended for a good part of the south wall. This original mural depicting in surreal cartoon characterization what C. Wright Mills termed The Power Elite. The free offers of endless pop corn from their pop corn machine was an added feature, of course, along with the jazz. Along with the mural gone too was the waitress that seemed as permanent as the mural, the returning jazz musicians, and the pop corn, always a pleasant welcoming local friend to the many visitors, who passed away of illness, god rest her soul.
55 Jazz is still there, steps down from the street, in a more standardized interior, with little character of its own, though the jazz, beer and trickle of visitors remains.
The Knitting Factory was a place on East Houston, were I would go, and introduced several people to, to listen to music I encountered when investigating experimental jazz and other forms of music on the so called edge of creativity, back in High School. I found Elliot Sharp and his band Carbon often performed there, and that was what initially led me to the spot, that eventually moved to Tribeca and no longer was the venue for cutting edge creative artists.
Time Out Magazine‘s current description of the current 55 Bar, the venue that once held its exhibited nostalgia by way of preservation. http://www.timeout.com/newyork/bars/55-bar