The Providence music scene is taking another hit (WBRU, Aurora) and this one really hurts. Downtown Providence has had a Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel somewhere since 1975. There was a brief hiatus between Numbers I (the Conrad Building) and II (the Peerless Building) during which Rich Lupo indulged in some serious Scrabbling. He even installed a linoleum floor in the pattern of a Scrabble board at that Peerless location. Washington Street (the old Strand movie theater) is the third, and apparently final, location.
Back in 2015, on the occasion of the club’s 40th anniversary, Andy Smith interviewed Rich Lupo for the ProJo (which includes a great video by Sandor Bodo).
The club has changed over the past 40 years. The current Lupo’s, which holds up to 1,900 people, is more concert venue than bar.
“At the original Lupo’s, people just showed up on a Friday night, and knew they were going to hear a good band,” Lupo said.
Most people agree that the latest incarnation never had the exuberant character and shambolic divy-ness of the first two locations — and that makes it a little easier to say goodbye. And we still have The Met in Pawtucket which is one of the top places for seeing music around. After decades in the business, Mr. Lupo designed every square inch exactly the way he wanted it, and it is a gem. The Met is also the repository of the iconic Dan Gosch portraits of Elvis and Jimi and Janis from the original Lupo’s. So head over to the Met with some friends, drink a toast to the old Luposes, and reminisce a little. Remember that time we all thought we were in line for the bathroom . . .
Rich Lupo invested in downtown Providence before anyone or anything was happening down there. He established the beachhead. Big thanks for all the good times, Mr. Lupo!
The Washington Street location will now be The Strand Ballroom and Theatre. Painters were working inside and out this morning. They said it would be opening Tuesday but it seems like the first event is Thursday. (Facebook page.)
[Additional Note: The Providence Journal wrote up the change saying that the club had been “renamed,” but that Mr. Lupo retained a stake in the place. In other words . . . there is no longer a Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in downtown Providence.]
The lobby ceiling has been painted gold-on-blue with a 1917 map of Providence by an artist who only signed it ‘Taylor.’ (It was hard to photograph but it’s quite lovely.)