Tamar Korn sings at Banjo Jim's, a now closed venue in the East Village.
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Banjo Jim's was an intimate one-room music venue and bar on Avenue C and 9th Street in what some of old-timers still refer to as the Lower East Side—otherwise known as Alphabet City or the East Village, in Manhattan. Opened by Lisa Zwier-Croce and Richard Ogust as a memorial to Lisa's late husband, who died in a car accident, the venue was named for he who friends and fellow musicians called "Banjo Jim." The venue would host nights of music that Jim would have likely very much enjoyed, such as American roots music, and riffs on traditional folk forms of all sorts.
Though a relatively short-lived establishment, lasting only about seven years, Banjo Jim's was an old soul of a joint; a respite in New York that felt a little dirtier and a little cozier than most places in town. It quickly became a refreshingly intimate and beloved venue for many bands and folks who were into the music it attracted. Plenty of musicians who play far fancier and larger music venues enjoyed nights of playing at Banjo Jim's for its packed-in tiny room. Even at its "ruckus" moments, the space had a spirit that felt "real." In fact, the history of the space as a music venue went back at least to the 1990s, when it was called 9C and played home to Greg Garing and folks' "East Village Opry" nights. This was where the folk band Ollabelle began.
Tamar began playing at Banjo Jim's with The Cangelosi Cards in the winter of 2005. Musician and musicologist Eli Smith put together a monthly Saturday night series called "Down Home Live," an event he would broadcast in part from his online radio show and musical-cultural archive. Ogust invited the band to play at the venue's first and only long-term residency in 2006. In 2010, the Cards handed the residency over to Dennis Lichtman (also from the Cards) and the Braincloud, a band he and Tamar had started about a year prior.
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