Lou Reichert made his living as a salesman, but throughout his life what made him happiest was the work he did on the side, presenting the arts to the general public.
Now his love of live performances has led to a new and unusual venue, with nationally known musicians appearing in an intimate space in an old Victorian home.
When Reichert was a teenager in the early 1960s, he and his dad brought musical acts such as the Duprees, the Flamingos and Patti LaBelle and The Bluebelles to Bill’s Skating Rink in Manahawkin. Later, Reichert was president of the Atlantic Film Society. From 1976 to 1989, he brought alternative and art films to Atlantic County.
Last fall, he started his latest artistic venture, presenting live music in the Lizzie Rose Music Room, located in a restored Victorian home in Tuckerton.
“I think there is something in my life that likes putting on a show,” said Reichert, 71.
The front of the building, at 217 East Main St., houses a tea room and a gift shop. Various businesses were tried in a space in the back of the building, but none of them lasted. They included a fish fry, a steak house and a French restaurant.
Then Reichert came up with the idea of making the space a live-music venue. The landlord let him construct a stage in front of the room’s stained-glass windows.
“I didn’t know about the booking,” said Reichert. He had to learn which agents were connected with the blues, country, Americana, bluegrass and alternative rock acts he wanted to bring in.
The Lizzie Rose Room has a capacity of only 50 seats. So it has become a room meant for listening to the music. Attendees can bring in food and drink, but it is not a bar or a restaurant. The audience sits less than 10 feet away from the performers, which leads to a great deal of interaction between entertainer and crowd. And it means that every performance is different.
Parking is free. Tickets are inexpensive. And it is one of the few places to see nationally known performers between Atlantic City and such venues as the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Monmouth County.
In less than a year, the acts the room has hosted included blues artists Popa Chubby, Tommy Castro, Selwyn Birchwood, Guy Davis, Corey Harris, Joe Louis Walker, the country-rock of New Riders of the Purple Sage and Commander Cody and the jazz, French and pop music band La Vie En Rose.
On a Wednesday earlier this month, Reichert presented another blues artist, Florida slide guitar player Bill Wharton, aka “The Sauce Boss.” His unique show combines his two passions, the blues and food — he had a gigantic pot of gumbo cooking to his left as he played. During his solo show, he invited audience members to come up and stir the gumbo while he performed.
“I loved the place. It’s really a beautiful place,” said Wharton, who added he has been performing for around 50 years but had never played in a Victorian home before. “It was really a great time for me to just kind of hang with those guys and do my thing.”
Reichert is responsible for finding the talent and securing the contract. Some agents balk at the idea of playing a 50-seat room. but even a small venue may more sense for a performer than an off night.
Reichert will often land acts who have a free night between playing Warmdaddy’s in Philadelphia and B.B. King Blues Grill & Grill in New York City. Once they are booked, Reichert has to make sure the artists show up on time for a soundcheck earlier that day. Sometimes he has to supply a hot dinner before the show and a place to sleep afterward.
“Seventy percent are national acts and 30 percent are locals,” Reichert said. “Of the people in Tuckerton, slightly over 50 percent know what we are doing. We don’t have a huge billboard. It’s not the Borgata.”
Many of the artists have taken out their cellphones to take pictures of the Lizzie Rose Music Room because they like the way it looks, Reichert said. They like the acoustics and the feel of the room and the hospitality. It’s a mom-and-pop operation run by Reichert and his wife of 48 years, Marsha, with help from volunteers and sponsorships from the local business community.
Jay Dash, 60, of Bayville, Berkeley Township, is a contractor and a blues fan, the kind of fan the Lizzie Rose Music Room was made for.
Dash has shared his love of the blues with Reichert — sometimes giving him CDs of performers he’d like to see booked — and he usually buys show tickets six at a time.
He’s heard the reactions to the Lizzie Room from artists such as blues harmonic player John Nemeth. “I remember him commenting on how acoustically perfect the room was,” he said. “The other thing that all the artists seem to have in common about the place is the electricity between the artist and the audience, because it is such a small place.”
Dash says he has told hundreds of people about the Lizzie Room Music.
Reichert will host 10 shows in the Lizzie Room this month and eight concerts next month. He averages between five to 10 shows monthly, and he says artists have to be willing to earn a little less money to keep the tickets affordable.
“Some of the bands play bars where you’re competing with the sound of pinball machines. You are background music,” said Reichert. “Here, you are not background music. You have to be able to entertain. There has to be a little bit of energy in their performance.”
Reichert said he is working to keep the Lizzie Rose Music Room viable for two years so he can approach arts organizations for funding. With more money, he could try to book more of his wish list artists such Roomful of Blues, Elvin Bishop and his ultimate dream, a solo Bruce Springsteen performance.
IF YOU LIKE YOUR MUSIC OFF THE BEATEN PATH ...
There’s plenty of music in tourist magnets such as Long Beach Island, Atlantic City, Ocean City, Wildwood and Cape May. Here are the schedules of some of the more out-of-the-way places in southern New Jersey where you can find name musicians this summer and early fall:
The Lizzie Rose Music Room
217 East Main St., Tuckerton,
Tickets available 609-296-4100 Tuesdays to Sunday and 609-389-0118 on Monday.
Tickets also available in person at Village Bicycles, 213 E. Main St., Tuckerton.
Tickets are $5 more the day of the show unless otherwise indicated.
Rockin’ Jake Band 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. $15 advance.
Big Al And The Heavyweights 7:30 p.m. July 17. $20 advance.
Doug Demming/Dennis Grunling & Jewel Tones 7:30 p.m. July 18. $15 advance.
Manami Morita, The Electric Backwards Man 7:30 p.m. July 19. $15 advance.
JP Harris & the Tough Choices 7:30 p.m. July 21. $12 advance, $15 at the door.
Brett Johnson and The Call Up 8 p.m. July 22. $10 advance.
Marcia Ball, Shelley King 7 and 9:30 p.m. July 23. $30 advance.
Professor Louie & The Crowmatix 7:30 p.m. July 25. $12 advance, $15 at the door.
Jeff Przech, Jug Paradise 8 p.m. July 30. $12 advance, $15 at the door.
Geri Mingori Band 8 p.m. July 31. $12 advance, $15 at the door.
Dead Reckoning Band 8 p.m. Aug. 1. $15 advance.
The Deer Run Drifters 7:30 p.m. Aug. 6. $15 advance.
Bobby Messano Blues Band 7:30 p.m. Aug. 8. $15 advance.
Atlantic City singer/songwriter Gina Roche and her band 8 p.m. Aug. 15. $20 advance.
Jarekus Singleton Band 7:30 p.m. Aug. 16. $20 advance.
Ghost Town Blues Band 7:30 pm. Aug. 20. $20 advance.
Ronnie Penque (of New Riders of The Purple Sage) 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22. $15 advance.
Selwyn Birchwood 7:30 p.m. Aug. 23. $23 advance.
Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers 8 p.m. Sept. 2. $30 advance.
Scott Sharrard & The Brickyard Band 8 p.m. July 11. $15 advance.
126-130 N. High St., Millville.
All shows start 8 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Tickets are $5 more on the day of the show.
Faithfully: A Tribute to Journey July 23. $20 to $30 in advance.
Chris Cagle Aug. 13. $40 to $50 in advance.
1964 - The Tribute Aug. 14. $29 to $49 in advance.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band 7 p.m. Aug. 15. $25 to $45.
Soul Asylum Aug. 22. $25 to $35.
The Outlaws, Kenny Young Band Sept. 11, $25 to $35.
The Smithereens, Plantation Sept. 18. $25 to $35.
Echoes of Sinatra: A Tribute to the Man and his Music Sept. 25. $25 to $45.
Artimus Pyle Band Oct. 9. $25 to $35.
Ed Kowalczyk Oct. 13. $25 to $35.
Danny and the Juniors (featuring Joe Terry), The Four Aces 7 p.m. Oct. 17. $25 to $40.
Summer of Love Concert Experience Oct. 23. $25 to $35.
Sandi Pointe Coastal Bistro
908 Shore Road, Somers Point
609-927-6677 or 609-927-2300, southjerseyjazz.org,
Dave Postmontier — Summer Jazz Organ Series 7:30 to 10 p.m. Thursday. $10.
The Requnite Trio 7:30 to 9 p.m. July 22. $30.
Chris Simonini - Summer Jazz Organ Series 7:30 to 10 p.m. July 30.
The Ed Vezinho/Jim Ward Big Band featuring Eddie Bruce 7 to 8:45 p.m. Aug. 3. $10.
Rich Budesa — Summer Jazz Organ Series 7:30 to 10 p.m. Aug. 13. $10.
Victor Provost with Alex Brown 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Aug. 19. $30.
Ventnor Coffee House
108 N. Dorset Ave., Ventnor.
Shows start 8 p.m.
Ventnor Coffee House Band every Tuesday. Free.
Open microphone night 7:30 p.m. every Saturday. Free.
The Pine Lilies, a female quartet from Atlantic County, 8 p.m. July 17. Free.
Bubba Mac July 24. $10 cover.
Cubizm, progressive acoustic music, July 31. Free.
Stockton Performing Arts Center “Rocks the Mainland” concert series
Atlantic County Institute of Technology (ACIT) Performing Arts Center
5080 Atlantic Ave., Mays Landing.
Shows begin 8 p.m. Tickets $37 to all shows.
Blue Oyster Cult July 18.
Jefferson Starship July 25.
The Original Wailers Aug. 1.