New venue on East Carson Street, on the South Side, plans a cultural shift | Music Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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New venue on East Carson Street, on the South Side, plans a cultural shift 

“Everyone has their niche, but we want this to be the melting pot of all of those niches.”

Kevin Saftner, marketing director at Karma nightclub on the South Side, in the ballroom of the former James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy - CP PHOTO BY RENEE ROSENSTEEL
  • CP photo by Renee Rosensteel
  • Kevin Saftner, marketing director at Karma nightclub on the South Side, in the ballroom of the former James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy

What was once Devils and Dolls nightclub on East Carson Street is now Karma, on the South Side, a multi-room music venue and art space. Its two rooms will hold 200 and 300-350 people, respectively, which opens up the possibilities for both DJs and full-band shows. City Paper met with Kevin Saftner, the co-owner of former James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy, and current talent buyer and marketing director for the Stage at Karma. We met in the space to chat about the new venue.

When will Karma be open to the public?
We currently are open Thursday through Saturday, but we’re just opening the doors. February 2 will be our first show in here. We’ll be open seven days a week, but won’t have full Monday-through-Sunday music programming until March 2, after our grand-opening show featuring Starship Mantis.

You mentioned you wanted to bring the James Street energy here?
We’re going to do a lot of the same programming: a jazz jam on Sundays; Monday karaoke; Tuesday open stage; Wednesday, a funk-and-soul house band; Thursday DJs; Friday and Saturday will be live music and DJs. We’ll be featuring the variety of entertainment like James Street. We want do a lot of charity events and work with nonprofits. We want to bring that community vibe over here.

What makes Karma special?
It’s going to be way different from the typical culture that Carson Street has had for a long time. We’re going to focus on local music first and probably forever here. As of right now, we’re almost booked through June, and it’s all local. We’re going to do most of our live shows 8-11 p.m. We’ll team [bands] up with DJs afterward that have a similar vibe, so we can cross-pollinate scenes. Everyone has their niche, but we want this to be the melting pot of all of those niches.

What’s your vision for Karma?
I want this to be the weirdest and most diverse place on Carson Street. We want this to be the kind of place where the bouncer will shake your hand and introduce himself, not scare you away. Everyone is welcome: We don’t care what you look like, where you’re from or what you sound like. We want this to be a melting-pot-style community.

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Upcoming shows: Working Breed, 7 p.m. Fri., Feb. 2, $7; Bob Marley Birthday Jam, feat. Truth&Rites, 9 p.m. Fri., Feb. 9, $7; and BB Guns record release, 9 p.m. Fri., Feb. 16, $10. 1713 E. Carson St., South Side. 412-481-7227


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