The BLOG: Culture

Bovi’s doors have closed; will the club ever reopen?

For years in these parts – 46 years, to be exact – if you wanted to hear top-flight jazz played by an all-star big band, you could always go to Bovi’s Tavern in East Providence.

But the music stopped at the end of November, when the doors closed at Bovi’s after 46 years of Monday-night, big-band jazz.

Will Bovi’s ever reopen?

East Providence officials say that Bovi’s hasn’t applied to renew its license, which expired as of Dec. 1. Even if it did apply to reopen, Bovi’s would have some requirements and regulations to fulfill, the clerk’s office said.

Contacted about the closure, Bovi’s responded by email: “We are closed right now, but expect to reopen in the new year.‎ Check out the calendar on our website after the holidays or email. We don’t have a date yet, but hope to soon.”

As of this writing, Bovi’s Facebook page is up, but has no news – of any sort – on its Timeline. The Bovi’s website is down and the phone goes unanswered.

It’s difficult economically to keep a club, restaurant or bar open that caters to music, especially jazz. Profit margins for clubs or restaurants that feature musical entertainment tend to be low. And the work involved in running such an operation can be back-breaking and non-stop. Several clubs that have gone dark or will soon do so include the Acton Jazz Café in Acton, its newer incarnation, Act III, in Littleton, and Johnny D’s Uptown, in Somerville.

Bovi’s, which opened in 1947, had been home to a big band every Monday night since 1969, when local favorite Duke Belaire brought his ensemble to the club. Duke, who had toured with Tex Beneke & His Orchestra, led the band at Bovi’s on Monday nights for 30 years, through 1999. The Duke Belaire Jazz Orchestra was filled with all-stars over the years, such as Dick Johnson, Greg Abate, Ted Casher and Scott Hamilton on reeds, Lou Colombo on trumpet and Hal Crook on trombone. Some of the biggest names in the business, including trumpeters Clark Terry and Doc Severinsen, would sit in if they were in town.

As he began to contemplate retirement, Belaire helped find another group to take over the Monday night big-band spot. The John Allmark Jazz Orchestra, led by trumpeter John Allmark and also populated with all-stars such as saxophonist Bob Bowlby, held down the Monday night spot from 1999 through the end of November.

A musician who helps with the management of the Allmark Orchestra said that he hasn’t heard any news on Bovi’s reopening. He said that Allmark said he has been talking with a couple of other establishments that might be interested in hosting the band on Monday nights.

Tom Nutile

Tom Nutile

Tom Nutile can be reached at [email protected].