Photo by Beta Klein

Back in 1972, John Larson opened John’s Place on Main Street in New Hope. Not long thereafter he was offered the opportunity to acquire a liquor license. Not only did he not have the funds (only $17,500 back then!), but he didn’t have any bar management experience at that time. Luckily for him, his friend Jim sure did and he was there the day when the man selling the liquor license approached John and told him the original buyer never showed up to meet him to make the purchase. He then asked John, “Are you interested?” John replied, “I don’t know a thing about the bar business.” Jim Woolsey quickly interjected saying, “Brother … I know about bars!” Jim was a friend and confidant who explained to John that he knew the bar business very well from his time spent bartending in the Caribbean. He was very convincing. Now John had his bartender. Only problem was John didn’t have the money to purchase the liquor license. John then reached out to his then brother in law Peter Price to see if he would be interested in helping him acquire that liquor license. Peter provided the financial support to purchase the liquor license, and John and Peter’s Place was born.

John Larson, Guy Heller and Peter Price

A now historic venue, which today stands as the longest original owned and operated live music venue in the country, John and Peter’s Place is an intimate space that serves as the epicenter for the vibrantly eclectic and talented music and arts scene that has flourished for decades in New Hope, PA. John Larsen was originally influenced by his days in the West Village “coffee house” scene of Lower Manhattan and decided he wanted to open a coffee house with a performance stage for folk music and performance art. “A place for me to entertain,” John put it simply and a spot with a place to play music and to gather socially. His concept was already being passed by in the West Village in NYC as the mid 70’s approached. “Things change fast in New York; they always took a few years to reach us out here. Time moved a bit slower here back then. Obviously New York moved at a much faster pace.”

Who knows what would have happened if Jim Woolsey wasn’t sitting with John that day. That liquor license could have just passed on by and the world of live music would have missed out on over four decades of some magical moments on that stage. In 1972 John and Peter’s Place was born and is still drinking, smoking (well… the smoking part recently ended), but it’s still rock and rolling seven nights a week. It’s a place that has witnessed great performances and great changes over the years like such legendary intimate venues CBGB and Wetlands. These smaller capacity venues nourished historic bands with a place to continuously perform and hone their skills and craft their songs in a communal way in which audience and musicians became one unit in one intimate room feeding off of each other inside a box of sound, sweat, smoke and humanity.

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