News Column

East Greensboro jazz club's new home 'a blessing,' owner says

August 9, 2014

By Dawn Decwikiel-Kane, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.

Aug. 09--GREENSBORO -- After being displaced by the planned downtown performing arts center, Boston's House of Jazz has found a new home with a history.

It has reopened as Boston's House of Jazz and South Beach Lounge and Cigar Bar at 1011 Arnold St. on the city's east side in a building with a long life as an entertainment venue.

Although initially upset that he had to move, owner Mike Boston is upbeat about the outcome.

His patrons have followed him to the new spot, previously home to the Warehouse 29 nightclub. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was the Castaways club.

Customers appreciate its easy access to U.S. 29 and Wendover and Bessemer avenues, Boston said.

"I believe it was a blessing," he now says about the move.

Boston had moved his downtown jazz club from 422 N. Edgeworth St. to 125 Summit Ave. in April 2013. Four months later, the city purchased the Summit Avenue site and neighboring properties to build the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts.

Boston had two years left on his lease. So the city paid him $175,000 and helped him move.

As Boston searched for a new spot, he spoke with Kent Woofter, who had owned and operated Warehouse 29 for 22 years. It sits tucked on a short stretch of street with Uptown Artworks and the Carolina Cookie Company.

The two knew each other because one of Boston's sons, Clarence, who owns crematories and a funeral home, had opened his first crematory next door to the club.

Woofter decided to sell the Warehouse 29 building to Mike Boston.

"The right offer came in at the right time for me to consider, and it seemed like a good fit," Woofter said. "I wanted to see it pass to someone who would keep it as an entertainment facility and build on what we had done."

Clubgoers from the 1960s and 1970s remember it as the Castaways, where entertainment entrepreneur Bill Griffin brought in big names of rock 'n' roll to perform.

Now 61, Boston recalls making his first nightclub visit at age 18 to the Castaways to see soul singer and songwriter Jerry Butler perform.

Since then, the site has housed a succession of clubs, including Wham and Encore, Woofter said.

Woofter and several business partners opened Warehouse 29 there in 1992 as a nightclub for the gay community. At the time, there weren't many dance clubs in the city, Woofter said.

In recent years, he added a Latin night and a hip-hop college night.

Woofter had been Warehouse 29's sole owner for the last 11 years. Woofter said he might pursue owning another club in the future but has nothing in the works.

Boston turned the space into two venues, Boston's House of Jazz and the outdoor South Beach Lounge and Cigar Bar, where he can hold two events simultaneously. They offer live jazz, R&B, food and drinks Thursday through Sunday nights.

Boston's wife, Anita, and children Michael Jr., Clarence and Aisha work in the business.

The day before opening, Boston held a "blessing ceremony" on June 5, when a minister spiritually blessed the new location.

"I am ecstatic to finally own my own venue and to own all of the property that goes along with that," Boston said. "It's very comforting in that I'll never be put in that position again."


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