Questlove Laments Loss of Legendary Dobbs and North Star Bar in Philly


Photo of Questlove by Jeff Fusco

Over the past two weeks, it was announced that two legendary Philly music venues would be closing their doors. First it was North Star Bar, which will remain open as a eat-and-drink-only establishment, and yesterday, South Street’s Legendary Dobbs (formerly known as J.C. Dobbs) informed us on Facebook that it’s closing for good. As we wrote, both establishments had their flaws, but they both played home to a handful of major bands before they were famous. The White Stripes played at North Star Bar in 2001, and J.C. Dobbs hosted everyone from Nirvana, Green Day, the Indigo Girls and, according to Questlove’s Instagram account, they put the Roots on stage when few others in the city would.

Today, Questlove shared a photo of a Nirvana/The Melvins ticket stub from J.C. Dobbs in 1991. Along with it, he shared this memory of coming up in Philly’s music scene:

I know I put this romantic twist on the busking era of The Roots (we grabbed some pots and pans and *boof!* got a record deal & here we are some near 25 years later!) But those were some trying times in philly: I had a showbiz pedigree but it was only but so far the 50s oldies circuit could take me. Got the education but not the connects. Philly radio was proudly “rap free”. We barely had a nightclub that would embrace the culture. So how did the most unlikely outfit from the most unlikely city manage to tortoise & hare its way through this land mine race called entertainment? A lot of stretching the truth. We were “…..a jazz outfit w spoken word” “lyrical poets”—those that know know. “Passing” is nothing new. Lotta code words were used (all you Chapelle heads know the infamous “hello? I’ve got 5 bla–hello? hello?” bit?—lets just say when the idea of the Roots were pitched to first time club owners we were more likely to say we were #TheAristocrats then we were to reveal that we were a rap group. (“….hello?….hello?) kinda bummed that 2 Philly institutions shut down #NorthstarBar & the 1st philly club to hire us #JCDobbs. Always had this fantasy we’d go under another name & perform at our old stomping grounds one day. Doing shows for $75 bucks, some drink tickets & 10 guests. Really sad to see this go.

Questlove and the Roots were honored last night at the Fillmore with a plaque on Philly’s Walk of Fame. Photos and more from that event coming soon.

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with Ticket — here’s how: