George’s Majestic Lounge will have been open on Dickson Street in Fayetteville 90 years in 2017.
The establishment will celebrate the anniversary with several concerts New Year Eve’s weekend, according to a press release from venue owner Brian Crowne, also vice president of the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion (AMP) in Rogers.
It is the oldest and longest-running live music venue in the state of Arkansas and one of the oldest bar and concert venues in the Midwest, according to the release.
Offering live music 320 days per year, including regional and national acts, Georges was opened in 1927 by George Pappas as a restaurant, bar and general store. It was purchased 20 years later by Joe and Mary Hinton, who made live music a regular staple at the venue, and 40 years after that Bill and Betty Harrison bought it, partly for sentimental reasons, because it was the site of their first date in college, according to the press release.
In 2004, Brian and Day Crowne purchased the venue, along with partner Suzie Stephens, who sold her share to the Crownes in 2012.
The club is a longtime favorite of music fans and artists alike, and its charms won over Crowne long before he thought about venue ownership.
“I fell in love with the bar as a musician,” he said.
Crowne played saxophone and guitar in various local bands in the late 1980s to the mid-2000s. He retired from his band Oreo Blue in 2006.
“What is amazing is that it still has the rustic character of the 1920s, with Razorback and University of Arkansas memorabilia and a million memories from all the thousands of bar and music lovers in the area,” according to a press release from venue owner Brian Crowne.
George’s was the first area bar to integrate in the late 1950s, the first restaurant to provide pizza delivery in Northwest Arkansas and the first bar to have a color television, according to the press release.
It has hosted performances from multiple Grammy Award winning blues artist Robert Cray, the late singer-songwriter Leon Russell, Australian rock band the Little River Band, blues rock musician Delbert McClinton, rock star Eddie Money, rhythm and blues horn band Tower of Power, blues guitarist and singer Coco Montoya, rock musician Steve Kimock, country singer-songwriter Sam Hung and the country group, the Zac Brown Band.
While Crowne aims to book big-selling acts for the AMP, he has more room to try different bands at George’s and considers the venue a barometer for the area music scene.
To book music for Georges, or “the club,” as he calls it, Crowne might enlist some of his younger employees to determine what’s cool and might ask them, for example, to tell him who played a great show at the popular music festivals.
George’s hosts bands that play quality music but might not intend to go beyond the club scene, Crown said. While an up-and-coming local band might play one night, a popular, nationally known band might play the next.
The anniversary celebration will culminate Dec. 31, with a performance lineup headlined California-based funk band Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe at 9 p.m. Denson has a long history in the music industry, including a stint as a member of Lenny Kravitz’s band. Tickets are $20 and available at stubs.net and at Georges.
Regional bands including the Cate Brothers (from 6 to 8 p.m.) and Mountain Sprout, The Squashers, Irie Lions and Henry + the Invisibles (late-night shows) will perform the night before, as part of the celebration, according to the release.