Earlier this month, news surfaced that a deal was in the works to sell iconic New Orleans venue Tipitina’s in light of recent lawsuits and financial insecurity, according to a report from local New Orleans news outlet WWL-TV. The reported plans to sell Tipitina’s came as its longtime owner, Roland Von Kurnatowski, faces a number of lawsuits from investors surrounding bounced checks and unpaid debts totalling nearly $3M.
Initially, the identity of the venue’s potential buyers and their plans for the space were unclear. Today, The New Orleans Advocate reports that multiple sources close to the negotiations have confirmed that members of Galactic have purchased the club from Von Kurnatowski, after closing the deal this afternoon. [UPDATE: While the band has yet to issue an official statement regarding their reported purchase, their response to our tweet about the report is nothing if not encouraging (see below).]
— Galactic (@GalacticFunk) December 1, 2018
Galactic has a longstanding history with Tipitina’s that dates back to the early 1990’s, when the band was called Galactic Prophylactic. Galactic was started by Stanton Moore, Robert Mercurio, Ben Ellman, Jeff Raines, and Rich Vogel, who were students at Tulane and Loyola universities and ended up settling in the Uptown area of New Orleans around Tipitina’s. With their mentor Theryl DeClouet joining the band to assist on lead vocals, Galactic gained popularity around town and quickly started selling out shows at the iconic club. Moore, as well as fellow bandmates, have also had longtime involvement with the Tipitina’s Foundation started by Von Kurnatowski and his wife, Mary, which helps bring and teach music to kids in New Orleans. According to the report from the New Orleans Advocate, Von Kurnatowski will retain control of the foundation, which he founded.
Tipitina’s was originally founded by a group of New Orleans music fans as a performance venue for local musical legend Professor Longhair. It’s named for one of Longhair’s most famous songs, “Tipitina”, which has since become a beloved NOLA standard. Von Kurnatowski bought the venue in 1996, and while he was reportedly unaware of its particular history, he has since been dedicated to preserving its identity. As WWL-TV notes, the couple would likely have to stop using the Tipitina’s name for the foundation should they choose to sell the venue.
[H/T The New Orleans Advocate]