Pearl Street Warehouse, a new music venue and restaurant at The Wharf from the owners of Cantina Marina, has announced its opening slate of concerts. Booker T. Jones, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who led The MGs and co-wrote “Green Onions,” will headline the venue’s opening-day show on Oct. 12 — the same day I.M.P. opens its new concert hall, the neighboring The Anthem, with a performance by Foo Fighters.
Unlike The Anthem, which can fit up to 6,000 people, Pearl Street Warehouse (33 Pearl St. SW) will be quite intimate, with a capacity of about 150 for seated shows and 300 for shows with a mix of seats and standing. Dinner service will also be available during concerts from the venue’s American diner-style menu.
In many ways, Jones represents the kind of acts the venue is aiming to attract.
“I’ve tongue-in-cheek called it American music,” says Bruce A. Gates who, with Nicholas Fontana and Henry Gandy, co-owns Pearl Street Warehouse and Cantina Marina. “It is Americana but we’re gonna have blues and rock ’n’ roll and country and more.”
Jones “is drawing from everything that Americana music is and from soul, from Memphis, and the blues, as well as collaborating with acts like Drive-By Truckers and The Roots,” says the venue’s talent buyer, Lisa White. “He is kind of the embodiment of all those styles and yet he takes all of those things and has his own style.”
White, who used to book shows at 9:30 Club and Gypsy Sally’s, says the venue will focus on local acts and rising artists. There will also be performers, like Jones, who could play bigger rooms but choose Pearl Street for a more intimate vibe. Comedy and spoken-word performances are in the pipeline, as are brunch and happy hour shows.
“The role of Pearl Street Warehouse is to develop artists,” White says. “We’ll be developing local artists, regional artists, touring national acts and helping them grow within their market.”
Highlights on the initial schedule include: Levon Helm’s daughter Amy Helm (Oct. 13); Asheville, N.C., bluegrass band Town Mountain (Oct. 14); folk singer Amythyst Kiah (Oct. 27); and a pair of rare solo shows from Drive-By Truckers frontman Patterson Hood (Dec. 2 & 3). D.C. is represented by singer-songwriter Justin Jones (Nov. 3) and the Chuck Brown Band (Nov. 22). (A full schedule is available at pearlstreetwarehouse.com. Tickets go on sale Tuesday at 2 p.m. through Ticketfly. Jones’ show costs $75; most will range between $15 and $25.)
Pearl Street Warehouse can be split into a concert space and a restaurant, though most concerts will use the entire space. Flexible seating allows for options with tables and chairs and full dinner service, or mostly standing with some seating, including in the 50-seat mezzanine level that hangs above one of two bars. The restaurant will be open daily for breakfast and lunch.
The venue has high-def video and streaming capabilities, which will benefit patrons at shows and, potentially, fans at home.
“If bands want to record a live-show video, or if they want to stream it on their website, they can do that,” Gates says. “If PBS or somebody wants to do an ‘Austin City Limits’ kind of show, it’s perfect for that.”
Pearl Street Warehouse enters an increasingly crowded D.C. music scene. Union Stage, from the owners of Vienna’s Jammin Java, is supposed to open at The Wharf this fall and a City Winery — from the hybrid venue/restaurant/winery chain — is coming to Ivy City this year. Gates and White envision all of the area’s venues, including already established spaces, working together to cultivate a larger music scene in D.C., like that of Nashville or Austin, where White lives for part of the year.
“I’m not competing with The Anthem,” White says. “I’m a blip on The Anthem’s radar. They’re going to be doing stuff that’s completely different. We’re gonna develop acts that are gonna outgrow Pearl Street Warehouse and they’re gonna go to the Birchmere and the Hamilton.”
“I think there’s so much opportunity to improve the music scene in D.C.,” Gates adds. “We’re a small but powerful addition to that equation, I think, along with others that are going in. There’s an almost unlimited capacity for good music and the more our city becomes a hub for that, the more it will develop and the more the audience will develop.”