Norma Jean's closing 'huge blow to local music': London musician
LONDON, ONT. -- A London rock club, and one of the biggest supporters of live music in the city, has closed its doors permanently.
Norma Jean's on Huron Street at Highbury Avenue had its final night this weekend as staff were told the long-time bar and music venue was shutting down.
Music advocate and leader of the Forest City London Music All-Stars Mario Circelli says they were known for having live and local music.
"They had big shows and national touring acts, but also home for local musicians," says Circelli."It was a stage for established people to thrill the crowds, but had an open stage to come and cut their teeth and perform."
London music promoter and local drummer Jim McCormick says it was one of the bigger venues in London.
"I remember going to Norma Jean's in the late '70s when it was karaoke. Then it became a bar and a live music venue, and it was a staple of London."
McCormick says a number of huge artists have come through Norma Jean's over the years, "Rival Sons, Airborne, and David Wilcox played there all the time."
Owner Theo Karouzas has not responded to our messages, but McCormick says his friend is staying under the radar right now and is heartbroken that after "giving it a hell of a go for two years."
The business is now for sale.
Sources close to Karouzas say the owner was attacked last month after responding to an alarm notification at the bar. When he arrived he was beaten by two suspects attempting to steal an ATM.
London singer Jude Coyle posted on Facebook she was shocked to learn of the assault.
"I am horrified and send love to Theo for supporting live music. I hope he will fully recover."
McCormick has performed many times over the years at Norma Jean's with his band 'Bender.' He adds he'll miss the social aspect of having drinks and hanging out with friends at the northeast London venue but understands that live music venues across North America are closing
Knowing how tough the bar industry is, he is now in the process of putting together a benefit concert in conjunction with the Forest City London Music All-Stars.
The proceeds would go to help Karouzas and his staff. McCormick says the response has been overwhelming and his Facebook inbox has been flooded with messages from people who would like to help.
"The London music scene and musicians will come out of the woodwork and put something together and raise a ton of cash. That's who we are, and how we give back."