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Remembering music history and Phoenix counterculture at the Mason Jar Nite Club

The Mason Jar Nite Club was founded in 1979. Most locals just called it, the Jar and it was the place that many saw their first real concerts in the Phoenix underground music scene. The Jar was the most important rock genre club in Phoenix, Arizona and remains part of the local iconography in the city.

Those unfamiliar with the club, probably know that it was once famous for serving drinks in actual Mason jars, a staple that became a symbol known to anyone that frequented the establishment. This author still has a glass handled jar from the old days, safely preserved in my kitchen cabinet.

Those who remember the old school days of the Mason Jar had a flash back this week.

The club has been closed for several years, but this week on Craigslist, the old Mason Jar building was listed as, "Free standing building for sale or lease."

Apparently the actual owner is willing to negotiate for sale, rental or leasing options.

The ad literally says, "Bring me an offer...", so you could own the Mason Jar club.

That is, if you have about a million or so to play with. The investment might be a little risky, but with the Jar's intrinsic namesake, somebody is probably getting ready to set the next stage of the club's history.

The Mason Jar made Phoenix a regular stop for bands that were headed for gigs in Los Angeles and elsewhere on the West coast, but it became notoriously famous as something uniquely Phoenician. Many musicians and bands came through to play at the Mason Jar, but stayed in Phoenix due to circumstances, like running out of cash and not making it big time in the Hollywood scene. This landed numerous groups in Phoenix, but often the city grew to their liking and they stayed to continue on as artists, business persons or other future members of the local Phoenix community.

The website still has a review of the Mason Jar Nite Club online. The review speaks volumes about the local reputation and that the Mason Jar still holds for local Arizona fans of concerts, night clubs, bar scenes and partying hard.

" Why go to bed when you can have another drink? At Mason Jar Nite Club, located at 2303 E Indian School Rd, the party marches into the late, late hours, as they have one of the best all-night parties. Of course, this could mean some serious pain the next morning (or, more likely, the next afternoon.) Don’t say we didn’t warn you."

Now that is as honest a recommendation, as you will ever see and it isn't far from the truth. Anyone who was around during the peak years of the Mason Jar scene, they have their battle scars and sacrified plenty of brain cells. Partying was not an option at the Mason Jar, it was a badge of honor. Nobody made stood by this proud party hard image than Franco Gagliano, the Sicilian owner of the Mason Jar that made it legendary in rock, punk and alternative music.

Franco was known for his business savvy, but also for causing as much chaotic interchange with bands, fans and employees of the Mason Jar. He was likely to invite a band to play at the club and pick a fist fight with them in the same night. Despite his rough attitude and harsh business dealings, Franco made the Jar into the club that Phoenix needed to gain national acceptance from the wider rock music world.

A short list of artists that played at the Jar is difficult to edit down.

A relevant list would have to include Alice Cooper, Surgical Steel, Flotsam and Jetsam, Sacred Reich, Missing Persons, Tool, Green Day, Kid Rock, Rage Against the Machine, Jane's Addiction, Nirvana and Guns N' Roses. Some of the best local and national acts that played the club during the Franco years, to mention them all would take up the space of several pages.

At the turn of the millennium, the Mason Jar was taken to even higher status by local businessman named Michael Manfredi. The new ownership upgraded the Jar's sound system substantially and catered to a new generation of artists, continuing the unique legacy of the Mason Jar in Phoenix history.

Artists that played at the Jar's post-millennial resurgence included Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Fall Out Boy, Opeth, 30 Seconds to Mars, Jimmy Eat World, Amy Arena, The Ramones, Rob Halford, Dishwalla, Frank Black, Ice-T, Megadeth, and Robby Krieger. This new era also brought in acts from the modern country music scene like Shooter Jennings, David Allan Coe and Hank Williams III.

The closing of the Mason Jar represented the end of an era, both musically and culturally in Phoenix.

The Mason Jar could have been a pagan temple in ancient times, but since modern paganism is really music and the arts, clubs like the Jar are the new forum for counterculture. The Mason Jar closed for business on February 15, 2005. It will always be a source of inspiration and memories for those living in Phoenix, Arizona and many other locations throughout America. The legend may continue on, depending on what new ownership buys it. Hopefully, it will be someone that understands what the club means to the city that supported it and sustained the enduring legacy it represents.

All hail and raise your Mason Jar mugs in praise.

Let us pray for a once and future king to renew the Jar, so that the temple may continue to rock in the near future.

Bottoms up and blessed be.

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