When I interviewed Susanne Guest Warnekros in 2003 before she opened The Jinx, I was impressed by the risks she seemed ready to take.
But I could never have predicted how vital the club would become for the Savannah music scene.
Downtown was different in those days. There were still a few legitimate dive bars around, and the zone had not yet been flooded with tourists.
Savannah had more of an edge then – or maybe I should say edges.
As most readers probably know by now, The Jinx is looking for a new home – a space that might be an even better fit.
"After almost 17 years of amazing shows, unrivaled spectacles, and some of the most special moments in life, COVID-19 has left us unable to pay rent and, subsequently we are being evicted," Warnekros wrote last week on Facebook.
"We had a great run in this space, and couldn’t be more proud of it. When one door closes, another opens. And maybe we can even find a place that we love more, the world is full of possibilities."
Warnekros also noted that the lease was running out in a few months anyway, so The Jinx’s departure from Congress Street has seemed likely for a long time.
From the beginning, The Jinx established itself as a home for metal and other heavy genres. The club played a critical role in the development of the Savannah metal scene, which attracted worldwide attention via the work of Baroness, Kylesa and Black Tusk.
The Jinx nurtured punk too and became a favorite venue for both local and touring acts.
Warnekros and her team welcomed outlaw country and Americana in the mix. The Train Wrecks played regular gigs, and Damon and the Sh*tkickers have been playing Saturday happy hours for many years.
The Jinx hosted a weekly hip hop night for more than 15 years and has been an important venue for the Savannah Sweet Tease Burlesque Revue.
The annual Halloween celebrations – the over-the-top decorations, the blood wrestling, the night of cover bands – became legendary on the local scene.
The Jinx hosted some of the most exciting Savannah Stopover shows that I experienced, and Stopover parent company MusicFile Productions worked with The Jinx on a long list of stellar one-off gigs, including Charles Bradley and The Mountain Goats.
Bands with dedicated followings like Murder By Death have continued to play The Jinx despite its low capacity.
Some specific shows are etched in my memory. A CUSSES’ gig in 2015 with Cray Bags and Wet Socks. A 2014 performance by the metal act Agalloch just days after the band had sold out a 1,000-capacity venue in New York. I could go on and on.
I should add that tourists – at least those who weren’t intimidated by the larger than life staff – loved The Jinx too. They recognized immediately that they had stumbled into someplace authentic, a hangout for locals that hadn’t been repackaged for visitors.
The Jinx became a crucial hub for a diverse community – a peculiar mix of people that may never be able to come together so fully again.
After Black Tusk bassist and all around amazing guy Jonathan Athon died in a 2014 wreck, Warnekros asked if she could add a photo of mine to The Jinx’s eclectic artwork.
I take a moment to look at that photo of Athon every time I go to The Jinx – part of a personal ritual. I talk to friends, including those behind the bar. I order a bourbon and soda.
Almost always, I work my way as close to the stage as possible.
I’m sure other regulars had their rituals in the space, but at the end of the day The Jinx has been primarily defined by people and music.
I look forward to reporting on The Jinx’s new home, wherever it turns out to be.
Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at hissing lawns (www.hissinglawns.com).