Center City Bar Cancels Popular Live Music Night Because It’s “Thugged Out”

The Back In Time Soul Sessions at Sansom Street’s Time restaurant were easily the most popular jazz jam in Philadelphia. The weekly Monday night shows, hosted by talented Colombian-born pianist and Temple graduate Luke Carlos O’Reilly (pictured), brought out the city’s best players and large crowds of the most discerning listeners. But this week, Time pulled the plug on the series.

From O’Reilly’s Facebook page:

Back in Time Sessions on Mondays at Time Midtown are no longer. The powers that be feel that the night is too ‘thugged’ out. I’m going to keep my opinion about that to myself.

Of course, Facebook being Facebook, others have not kept their opinions to themselves, and O’Reilly’s post has over 130 comments ranging from the ubiquitous “WTF?” to statements comparing Time management to the Gestapo. Former Inquirer music critic Tom Moon declared this a “huge loss to our city.”

And Anthony Tidd, the Kimmel Center’s Creative Music Program Director, had this to say:

…it is blatantly obvious to a 5 year old, that when “they” use the word thug, that “they” are not talking about members of the Gambino family, the IRA, the Russian Mafia, Columbian drug cartel or the Taliban. They mean black people from North or West Philly.

The bad news came down from Time GM Terrance Leach. “He’s said it before,” O’Reilly told me. “Says it was too much of a ‘thug’ vibe. Crazy.”

I called Leach to find out if by “thugs” he meant black people. He evaded the question and pointed to “an incident” in front of the club during Monday’s show but then declined to offer details. It turns out that someone pulled a gun on a Time bouncer, based on multiple accounts on O’Reilly’s page.

Leach doesn’t deny using the word “thug” but claims that he didn’t cancel Soul Sessions because the shows were “thugged out” but because sales just weren’t there. “They brought out a lot of people,” says Leach of O’Reilly’s jams. “But those people weren’t buying anything.”

PHOTO: Howard Pitkow