Bringing Back Music to The Court Tavern

The basement stage at The Court Tavern before “The Sessions” begins.

Open mic nights, garage bands and alternative performers were once a staple at The Court Tavern in New Brunswick, N.J.

Now, thanks to new general manager Brittney Dixon, all types of music are being performed at The Court Tavern. She has weekly shows in the basement and recently celebrated the second anniversary of “The Sessions,” an open mic night.

The Court Tavern closed on July 3 because of money problems, (according to Dixon), but reopened on Sept. 4 because Dixon convinced the owner to let her take over management. Dixon left The Court Tavern in July 2014 but said she really enjoyed the atmosphere at The Court Tavern, having been the lead bartender, promoter, Tuesday night manager and office assistant.

“The Sessions,” started two years ago because Dixon wanted to learn about promoting, so she created what she calls a “mini showcase where performers can play three to four songs and is open to all genres.” These open mic nights are open to all types of music and performers.

Dixon took “The Sessions” when she left The Court Tavern to Game Changer World in Howell in May 2014 and later to The Scarlet Pub in New Brunswick.

It was at Game Changer World that Dixon met current assistant manager Rhonette Smith. Smith was the marketing manager there and together they tried to open up their own music venue. When Dixon took over The Court Tavern, she brought Smith with her along with a brand new team.

“The Sessions” is a very “laid back, family, community environment with a cool vibe” as Dixon describes. Smith said that they “welcome everyone, no matter how old, young, what you look like. It doesn’t matter.”

Steven Hoydis, one of the performers at “The Session,” is in a band called the Centennials with Smith. He followed this specific open mic night as it moved around and “The Session” was the first time he ever sang in front of people solo.

“I know this night. You get to know the people, and the people and the environment are supportive and they hang out with you,” he said.

Both Dixon and Smith said they like the camaraderie of “The Sessions” and Dixon said she enjoys that people get a “real chance to get their feelings out in a song.”

One of her favorite parts of these nights is that she gets to see “bands be created and formed right here, people and bands who started off from scratch, starting from nothing, and really grow. They end up playing at large venues like The Stone Pony.”

Even though they might be running The Court Tavern now, both of these ladies are in their own bands and will sometimes perform at “The Sessions” on a slow night.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Lisabeth Matyash’s story.