Old friend, new name

SOB ATL owners honor club’s cofounder

! A Copy
Photo credit: TONY PARIS

The upstairs, main music room at Smith’s Olde Bar has a new name, The Mike Reeves Music Room, in honor of the  club’s cofounder who died last April. Reeves, along with partner Dan Nolen, opened the music club thirty years ago next year. It wasn’t Reeves’ first such endeavor.

He first tried his entrepreneurial hand with the Peanut Palace in McDonough, GA, having converted an an old movie theater into a live music venue in the mid-‘70s. Locals Atlanta bands would gladly travel south on I-75 to play the Peanut Palace, with a stage and sound and lights that rivaled anything the venues in Atlanta had to offer.

Having proven himself as a talent buyer, club owner, and music promoter, the success of the Peanut Palace prompted Reeves to move his music efforts closer to home, taking over the site of an old mill at 695 North Avenue, adjacent to Red Bud Distributors, which was also the warehouse for Mellow Mushroom Pizza, the then-burgeoning Atlanta pizza chained co-founded by Reeves’ brother Rocky.

The Excelsior Mill, at 695 North Avenue, was not only a showcase venue for touring local and national acts, but also the second musical home for local legend Piano Red,  a/k/a Dr. Feelgood, one of the godfathers of rock ’n’ roll. Red moved to the Mill at Reeves’ invitation after his long-standing gig (1969-1979) at Muhlenbrink’s Saloon in Underground Atlanta came to an end. By the end of the ‘80s, Reeves was ready to move on. Leaving the North Avenue location, which subsequently reopened with three levels of music as The Masquerade, Reeves began to partner with Dan Nolen, the Alabama club owner who had The Nick in Birmingham. The duo became a formidable force in Atlanta music, booking both The Point in Little Five Points and the Cotton Club on Peachtree Street in Midtown, as well as setting up management and publishing offices.

But it wasn’t until Reeves and Nolen took over an abandoned cabaret club at 1578 Piedmont Road that Reeves finally settled in with a venue to call home. Smith’s Olde Bar opened in 1994 and Reeves used it as a place to not only make his mark in Atlanta music, but as a home base for his many charitable contributions and business dealings. Reeves was not only of Atlanta, but a part of this city. His commitment to enjoying life, his affability, and his good-natured ways made him a dynamic part of this city’s music community. Reeves always had a good business sense, but, more importantly, he had a good heart, a rare quality in the music business. It’s fitting that SOB’s current owners, Dan Nolen, Beau Nolen, and Charlie Hendon, chose to honor their friend and the club’s cofounder by naming the music room after Reeves so that his memory lives on. —CL—

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