After nearly ten years of hosting amazing music, Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, NH will cease its regular live music offerings by fall, 2019. The decision comes to the dismay of countless music fans and even to the musicians who’ve graced Riverwalk’s stage.
“As we head into our tenth year of business in 2020 and look at the vibrancy of Downtown Nashua, specifically a lot of new housing available and the plan for a Performing Arts Center, we’ve decided to take a hiatus from hosting regularly scheduled live music…” according to owner Steve Ruddock in a press release from last Thursday.
Ruddock continues, explaining that “We see a unique opportunity to provide more offerings as a hybrid coffee cafe and cocktail bar instead of just being known as a music venue requiring a cover charge.” While the stage will no longer regularly feature live music, the cafe and bar — which boasts a friendly staff and a world-class food and drink menu — will continue to welcome diners.
Riverwalk Cafe has hosted dozens of touring and local acts that span the gamut in genre. Artists like The Stray Birds, Twisted Pine, Della Mae, Parsonsfield, and Bella’s Bartok have all performed on the tiny corner stage in Nashua.
On playing at the venue, Tim Cackett of the bands Town Meeting and Mama Ain’t Dead reminisced that, “Riverwalk Cafe was a pillar in the southern NH folk scene. It was the only spot south of Manchester that catered not only to local artists but also nationally touring bands. I always enjoyed playing at Riverwalk because I knew I was going to have professional sound and a great crowd…. the venue was intimate but with enough space/atmosphere to feel like you were at a bigger venue if you hit the crowd with the right songs… It will leave a hole in the southern NH folk scene that will not be easily replaced.”
Michael B, a Nashua resident and frequent Riverwalk patron said of the news, “So many talented performers, so many wonderful shows, such a warm and intimate setting, unlike anything I’ve experienced. I’m very thankful to the performers and the Ruddock family for years of joyful music and company.”
The unique venue offered a rare listening room for artists and consistently delivered high-caliber performances to audiences. In establishing Riverwalk Cafe, the Ruddock family successfully created a hub for the performing arts in Nashua much in the way that the old Club 47 (and now Club Passim) had done in Cambridge, MA decades ago.
Ben Ruddock, director of Riverwalk’s music program since its inception writes via their Facebook page, “The community of artists, fans and music lovers that came to make the space what it is today was a true honor to behold, and I can’t express my gratitude enough.” Ben’s hopeful that despite the change, New Hampshire music fans will continue to seek out great live music. “While the time has come to transition out of the Riverwalk music program, I suspect that what was built will reverberate beyond those tiny walls. The bands will all still be killing it around New England and beyond, and I hope music lovers from all over found bands to support wherever they go. “
While Riverwalk Cafe is here to stay and thrive for the foreseeable future, the absence of live music at this venerable bar will no doubt leave a palpable void in the area’s music scene.