Rockford loses a great venue: R.I.P., Bar 3

By Thom Kuss
Creative Director

This last week was a week that shall live in infamy. If you’re a musician or even just a fan of Rockford’s live music scene, you were dealt a terrible blow. Bar 3, 326 E. State St., has closed its doors for good.

Donna and Dennis Clement, the owners of Bar 3, showed up for work last Tuesday morning, Aug. 20, to find the entire building had been condemned and their impending closing date, well publicized as December, had been moved up because of an immediate issue with the building.

Being a musician and a DJ in the Rockford area who has performed at Bar 3 a number of times, I took this news extremely hard. Donna and Dennis have been instrumental in the local music scene’s growth and expansion for more than six years, hosting not only local acts, but touring nationals as well. Bar 3 dared to host live music and genres no other club in Rockford dared touch, from heavy metal all the way to folk and hip-hop.

I had the distinct opportunity to sit down with Donna and Dennis for a Q and A, and this is what they had to say …

Q: How did you feel when you found out the building was closing?

A: It was a shock. I had to call all of these bands we had scheduled and give them the news. Devastated, completely devastated. We have worked very hard to put together one of the best lineups we’ve had to go out with a bang.

Q: What was one of your favorite memories of the venue?

A: Well, what most comes to mind is one of Eric Nofsinger’s DJ nights, I think it was ’80’s night. I mean, I love my metal, but it was just fun, everything was happy.

Q: Any plans to re-open a venue in a new location?

A: We had every intention of not only re-opening, but re-opening on a much grander scale offering food and possibly being all-ages. Basically, we wanted to do it right. At this point, I’m not going to say that we wouldn’t like to be involved, but with things going the way they have, we have to kind of drop out and re-collect our thoughts. You know, when one door closes, another one opens.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to the music community?

A: I’d like to mention Wendell Booth and the Rev. — they were instrumental in getting the metal scene going — as well as Erik Virgen for all his help in keeping things going.

Final notes …

Bar 3 was a truly great place to experience, as a performer on stage as well as just a face in the crowd. The mood, lighting and A+ sound made it a comfortable place to be artistic and express yourself through music.

Donna and Dennis built this club with musicians in mind, and were a shining light for Rockford’s exemplary music scene. The Rockford community would greatly benefit to see them open a new venue, but only time will tell.

For now, Bar 3 will be maintaining its Facebook account, so send your well wishes and support there.

Following are a couple of messages from local musicians:

Left Of Reason: “Our hearts are heavy today hearing the news of Bar 3 being shut down. Donna and Dennis have created a place where lovers of live music could share their experiences, and connect with each other on such a profound level. We’ve made lasting friendships and so many memories in that building. Donna and Dennis were doing a positive thing, for a city that needed so badly to be lifted up. We’re sorry to see it go out like this.”

Aaron Fishel: “Bar 3 has always been an awesome venue. Dennis and Donna always took care of Silence is Broken and our fans, not to mention all the other bands that played there and their fans as well. Bar 3 will truly be missed, and there will be a huge void in the Rockford music scene.”

Eric Nofsinger: “Bar 3 really is a great space with a fantastic vibe and some of the best sound in Rockford.”

From the Aug. 28-Sept. 3, 2013, issue

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