Burnin’ Down the House: Former Fire Station Has All That Jazz

Nightlife, Things to Do, What's New — By Diana on September 5, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Looking for avant-garde jazz? Ever since Nick Lloyd converted a century-old firehouse in New Haven’s to a state-of-the-art music venue, bar, and studio, you no longer have to brave the Big Apple to find it.

Lloyd, who moved to New Haven from Park Slope, submitted the winning proposal for the former 1905 firehouse on 45 Crown St. He had planned to quit the small studio he had run in Brooklyn to pursue music PhD, but after getting the go-ahead from city officials to renovate the space, he opened the studio in 2005 – and the rest, as they say, is history. Firehouse 12 has become the premier hot spot for improvised music of all kinds: jazz across the spectrum, from mainstream to hardcore, as well as rock and even classical. On first glance, the bamboo floorings and glass control booth make it seem like a typical studio. But as befits a club that hosts the most improvisational of all music, Firehouse 12 quickly transforms into a makeshift music venue with speakers hung on the walls and chairs wheeled out of an isolation booth that doubles as a closet. Its downstairs bar/cocktail lounge has gotten rave reviews, and the in-house recording studio has made Ninth Square the site of a renowned record label the New York Times calls “aggressively experimental.” This trifurcated approach has protected Lloyd’s venture from the economic turmoil which has left most recording studios “in absolute shambles”, he says – at Firehouse 12, revenue from each of the three businesses supports the others.

The bar features such drinks as Hitachino Nest, Fin du Monde, Anchor Steam, Delirium Tremens, and $4 Rogue Lagers (a bargain as compared to store prices). Ten dollars or less will buy you any of the many specialty drinks they offer, and “shrinky dink artwork” (those old flexible color-in drawings that turn firm when microwaved) add a 70s throwback to the otherwise 20s-era speakeasy feel. Wallpaper-decorated nooks, cozy corners, and dripping candles add to the chillaxin’ vibe exuded by the staff, from doorman to bartenders. All around, Firehouse 12 is burnin’ down the house (pun intended).

[Image: Close to Spectacular]