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The Buccaneer is Back

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The Buccaneer, a venerable Midtown dive bar, got a new owner last week. Jonathan Kiersky, the low-key impresario whose stint as owner and operator of the Hi-Tone in the 2000s made it one of the city's premier music venues, announced via Facebook that he was taking over the Buccaneer effective immediately. 

"It's a Memphis staple and a very important part of the Memphis music community," says Kiersky. "I thought it was necessary that it stayed open."

Tucked away on Monroe off Cleveland and located inside a former house, the Buccaneer has retained much of its old-school Memphis charm as it transitioned from neighborhood watering hole into a gathering place where Memphis musicians feel free to experiment and play their latest work in a welcoming, low-stress environment. That reputation has been threatened in recent months, as many musicians have posted on social media that they were boycotting the establishment due to increasingly erratic and abusive behavior by the tiny venue's management. 

CHRIS MCCOY
  • Chris McCoy

Kiersky reported that he had been in secret negotiations to take over the bar beginning in early May and received an unexpected phone call from proprietor Charles Lankford. "He called me this morning and said, 'Hey, come get the keys.'" 

For the future, Kiersky says he wants to restore the Buccaneer's reputation as a welcoming establishment featuring cutting-edge Memphis music.

"It's not going to be much different than it was a year ago," he says. "We're going to have music seven days a week. The only thing that will probably change is that we're going to implement some of the old Hi-Tone menu at the Buccaneer. But mostly it will be the same ... a lot of local bands, a lot of touring bands."