It had long been anticipated, and often dreaded.
John Larsen and Peter Price had run their music club in New Hope longer than any other in America, but were ready to move on. Would John & Peter’s become another lost piece of New Hope and rock ‘n’ roll history?
Well, John and Peter are bowing out, but it looks like the beat goes on.
Price says new owners Kevin Rauch, Mike Wieners and Chris Williams are keeping the faith, with the latter two having worked there for years.
“John and I are are happy as hell with the new owners,” he said. “The most important thing to me is they’ll continue the music.”
Unlike many of its peers, John and Peter‘s continues to feature original acts and emerging talent. Micky “Dean Ween” Melchiondo jams there on Wednesdays, drawing even more of the region’s top musicians.
“I’m so happy with what’s happening because the music will continue seven nights a week, showcasing new talent,” said Price. “It’s going to the right people. They’re managers running the place, and we have to transfer the liquor license first, and that takes four to six months. Then we have a deal, and they take over and run John and Peter’s. Meanwhile, the music will go on night after night, just like it always has.”
At ages 80 and 90 respectively, Price and Larsen are more than ready to move on.
“We’ve been getting by, and we’ve been having fun,” observed Price. ‘The place is a museum in a sense, and they’ll keep the tradition going. I have a home in Florida, and I’ll come back each spring, and hopefully they’ll buy me a drink.”
Mike Wieners and his fellow new co-owners say they’ll honor that request, and more.
“The music will go on,” Wieners said. “We care about keeping the tradition going.”
New stage equipment can be seen around the club, and Wieners says he and his partners will be investing in the building.
“It’s not just about putting on acts, it’s about giving them the best venue,” Price explained. “When John and I were younger, most of our time went into booking acts. The new owners will show the energy and vitality John and I did — and we knew nothing! But we learned and learned.”
“I’m proud of us too,” Price added. “I go around town, but somehow there’s some kind of soul and authenticity in our little joint.”
Larsen had originally founded the club back in 1972, and Price joined him a year later after the venue was granted a liquor license. Originally conceived as a folk music venue, the duo quickly shifted their business model.
“The place is designed for one man and his guitar,” Price explained. “The problem is that you want make a living, and the folk audience doesn’t eat and drink. The place is packed, but all you’ve sold the next day is a coffee and a tea.”
Larsen has actually always been more of a father figure to Price, having married his sister when Price was 13.
“My father was very successful, but if I had a problem, I’d go to John,” Price recalls. “I lent him some money, then he got the liquor license, and after 12 years as a TV director in Chicago, I joined him.”
“We’ve never had a fight,” Price continued. “He’s really been the leader, he knew more about it. I didn’t even know if I’d like it, but I fell in love with it.”
The rest is history. Price and Larsen built John & Peter’s Place into one of the world’s best little music clubs, and one of New Hope’s most legendary destinations.
“The music has been great,” Price said. “The vibe has always been surprisingly strong.”
“John and Peter’s has always been a place where people from all walks of life can come together,” observed Wieners. “Music is the unifying force.”
There’s no place like John & Peter’s! How do you even fit its impact into a sentence? The friendships I formed there over the course of 35 years as a customer have changed my life forever.
I don’t like New Hope as much of course as when we used to meet at the Golden Pump!
I’m shocked that John Larsen– who started this business and was pretty much the soul of the now iconic club –was not interviewed for tthis piece.
Hi, Marsha! Don’t worry, we didn’t forget John! We hope to interview him for upcoming stories that go into more detail on the deal, including more info about the new owners, and a more definitive history from both John and Peter. John’s stories are amazing! — Charlie
People are SHOCKED! SHOCKED! I say!
Great article in spite of the “there’s always one” chiming in their displeasure. Look forward to the upcoming article dedicated to John. (it should be at least a three parter!)
John and Peter’s is an icon! I was privileged to be among the first to play there with The Solebury Mountain Boys. Congrats my friends, may the wind be at your backs!
Thanks for this special place.