New venue The Bridge Music Bar gives much-needed platform to local musicians | Pittsburgh City Paper

New venue The Bridge Music Bar gives much-needed platform to local musicians

click to enlarge A blue room with tables and chairs and posters of music equipment
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
The Bridge Music Bar

Ten years ago, Susan Coe noticed an available spot across the street from her holistic wellness center, Peace, Love & Zen. At the time, Coe also ran the now-defunct Bloomfield bar and music venue Howlers.

“I fell in love with [the East Liberty location] and said if I ever move my bar or open a new bar, this is where I’m going to go,” says Coe. On Sat., Aug. 6, her dreams are becoming a reality. 

Coe’s latest business venture and Pittsburgh’s newest live music venue, The Bridge Music Bar, debuts at that very spot that caught her eye all those years ago with a grand opening festival featuring an entirely female-fronted lineup. Performers include Clara Kent, Murder For Girls, Hemlock for Socrates, and DJ Femi, among others. 

Initially, the plan for the East Liberty property was to become the new Howlers. However, after a landlord change caused Coe and her business to vacate its Bloomfield location in 2020, she secured a lease at the Penn Avenue site and was set to move the popular bar across town. Then COVID hit. For about a year, the property sat empty, and Coe’s vision shifted. 

“So much time had gone by, and the space had a whole different vibe,” says Coe. “I love the historic feel of it. The bar, the back bar, the outdoor signage, and flooring is all original from 75 years ago. Howlers was a little bit more divey, a little rougher. I knew it wouldn’t be exactly like Howlers, and if I kept it as Howlers, people would expect Howlers.”

The Bridge Music Bar will focus on catering to musicians and provide a diverse music lineup to the city of Pittsburgh. 

Already slated for August is a blues night with Jimmy Adler, a jazz performance from Tony Campbell, a ska, polka, punk, and rockabilly set with The Polkamaniacs and Boom Rockets, and a show from world beat dance band King Fez, just to name a few. A wide range of local acts will be visiting The Bridge Music Bar almost every night, giving Pittsburgh musicians and bands a much-needed platform as live music slowly returns. 

While The Bridge Music Bar’s food menu is not as extensive as the performance schedule, it’s equally as enticing. The simple offerings — fresh salads and sandwiches, small plates, and charcuterie boards — are entirely made from scratch. 

“This is going to bring a lot of people into our community,” says Coe. “When you have a music spot, it becomes a destination spot. Not only will it be great for East Liberty, it's going to be great for a lot of other people. For anyone that might have a tainted image of what East Liberty is, this will help change that persona.”

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