slum magazine

“Our dreams are a second life.” ~Gerard de Nerval

Interview: Toby’s Juke Joint to Reopen in April

By Cat Boccaccio.

We lost an iconic gathering place back in 2010, when Toby’s Juke Joint blues club abruptly shut its doors and disappeared from the face of the Second Life earth. Toby’s was the first place I visited at birth, in 2007, my hang-out and refuge, and the place I made – and kept – new friends. Many of us “grew up” at Toby’s. There were regulars who became  family, and a constant influx of newcomers (and newbies) to keep life interesting. It was a safe place to go by yourself, to meet people and dance or to quietly listen to a great DJ or a cool stream.

And when the Toby’s era ended, I and others felt thrust out into the real world unprepared for life without the blues and a friendly home. (Perhaps the closure of the club helped SL’s real estate market, since there was no need to purchase or rent land when you had Toby’s to come home to.)

I’m not sure there are any clubs that ever came close to the ambience of Toby’s, and it’s uncertain whether that “magic” can be recaptured. But there was a familiar, welcome pleasure in Toby Howton’s announcement of the reopening of Toby’s Juke Joint. I quickly contacted Toby, and he was kind enough to answer my nosy questions…

JJ 1

Resurrection in progress. I love the swampy environment.

Me: What made you decide to reopen Toby’s Juke Joint?

Toby Howton: Some very dear friends have been trying to persuade me to reopen the club for some time now. I had resolved not to do so and to concentrate my efforts on the home and landscaping business I have built up with my partner Dearest Myrtle (ArchiTech Design). However, I have finally taken heed of the requests by Dearest and others and the club will reopen soon.

CB: Many regulars found the closure surprising, not to mention distressing! What caused the sudden closure?

TH: I understand that and let me say it was even more distressing for me. It was the culmination of many months of personal anguish at the way the club was being run and the attitude of my business partners at that time. I made the decision to close the club, but the abrupt and dramatic closure was not of my doing.

CB: Did you receive much response when Toby’s closed? Supportive? Negative… or?

TH: Yes I did… it was mostly supportive although I didn’t confide the personal reasons for the closure. I did all I could to make amends to the people most affected, including refunding store renters out of my own pocket for any rentals left active. Unfortunately, I too was banned from the sim so I was unable to offer more assistance.

CB: Will the build be familiar; i.e. similar to the original, or a new structure. If so, do you have any details about the build to share?

TH: Most of the club structure was returned to my Lost and Found after I was banned from the sim and I have been busy piecing together the old building and contents. Although this necessitates minor changes I have been as faithful to the most recent incarnation of the club as I can.


CB: Will you be personally managing/overseeing the club, as you did with the old Toby’s? Or will you be builder and patron only?

TH: I will be involved in the running of the club as will my partner Dearest Myrtle and my old friend (and ex-Juke DJ) Sundown Merchiston, and his partner Abby.

CB: Are any of the old Toby’s team reuniting to be part of the new club?

TH: I am hoping that many of the old DJs and Toby’s regulars will be part of the new club. I created the club at the beginning of 2007 and it has seen different team members over the years. The business partners involved in the club when it closed will not be involved in the new Toby’s though.

CB: Some residents were banned for various reasons in the old days. Will there be a clean slate for visitors or will the old bans be in effect?

TH: This goes back to my unhappiness with the way things were run in the latter days of the club. There will be no names on the ban list, no recriminations and no bad feelings. I want Toby’s to be a place where people come to enjoy good music and a friendly atmosphere. That was my intention when the doors first opened over six years ago and that’s still my vision.

CB: It’s definite that the club will reopen in April?

TH: Yes, that’s the plan, final date TBA. We are working to reconstruct it at the moment and Sundown is building a schedule of DJs.

It feels, in a way, like the clock stopped for three years and is now ticking again, like a heartbeat. Whether Juke Joint will rise again to its old glory remains to be seen – and in fact, old glory is not necessary. A great blues club is all I ask for. If anyone can deliver that, Toby can.


For slum magazine.


About slummagazine

slum magazine is about all things Second Life: art, music, news, reviews, shopping, love and life.

14 comments on “Interview: Toby’s Juke Joint to Reopen in April

  1. ronisaunders
    March 24, 2013

    . . Like Cat I too “grew up” at Toby’s Juke Joint blues club . . But the nostalgia I and many other “old timers” feel for Toby’s is for the wonderful ambience of the old build with those cute little booths where you could sit with a group of friends and chat , not for that uninspiring old barn of a place which followed and now brings back nothing but bad memories of Toby’s final days .


  2. slummagazine
    March 24, 2013

    Hey Roni.. It’s early days yet, who knows what Toby and team have in mind for the club. So far they are starting with the latest build, and maybe with constructive input they’ll adapt it. I’m mostly looking forward to meeting up with long lost JJ friends at Toby’s… like you, if you were long lost!


  3. Toby Howton
    March 24, 2013

    hi Roni, I remember you well as a long time regular. That’s an interesting comment and something that went through my mind as I looked at all the old pictures sent by old friends and Juke regulars.

    The club went through several major changes over the years, with some people preferring the old look and others complaining the old blue walls were too dark.

    I remember very well the booths at the back of the club and also the row of bar stools along the front of the old bar that had people fighting for their regular place (and often sitting on “my” stool… grrrr!). I remember too those times I walked into the club to find a group of people dancing in a line on the bar.

    There was a magical innocence to those days that was all but lost towards the end of the Toby’s era. It is also the atmosphere I would like to recreate. I’m not sure it was the look of the club in itself that changed the atmosphere and that goes back to the reason it closed. I hope the new Toby’s will restore the the club to what it once was.

    I would like to hear other people’s comments on the club styles they liked best.



  4. Toby Howton
    March 24, 2013

    If you would like to keep up with our activity and announcements regarding the club opening, join our in-world group (Toby’s Juke Joint), secondlife:///app/group/204d46aa-1de9-42c1-9523-d88a001300c2/about


  5. leondralarsson
    March 25, 2013

    I can’t wait! I’m looking forward to that comfortable place; a place to throw down the day’s troubles, hold one’s head back, and wail the blues. … like jambalaya and a side of mac and cheese… it’s that good

    ..brushing off my dancing shoes:)


  6. slummagazine
    March 25, 2013

    I like the funky worn look of the build, and here are a couple of other things:
    *Seating – yes, stools at the bar (I know people at other clubs that do arrive and sit on their stool, watching and listening, for the duration of their stay). My father used to say to guests “Sit down! You make the place look untidy” so please give us lots of places to sit. I would like the option to show off and be sociable or sit quietly in the dark, when I’m feeling moody and unsociable. 🙂
    *A back room or other room – instead of one oversized space. Pool table, old couches, whatever; just an alternate area.
    *A porch – you’ve got that covered.

    Toby’s memory: my first Halloween in SL and the place was PACKED. I arrived in a female panther outfit; fur and skins, kinda skimpy. Had a great time and lots of surprising attention. It turns out that while my outfit looked complete in my viewer, the top hadn’t rezzed at all. No one told me! Thanks, Toby, for not kicking my ass out that night.



    • Ronda Saunders
      March 25, 2013

      ok Toby , while we’re making suggestions and giving advice . . . .

      . . yeahh a bar with stools is an absolute must have . . . and definitely some of those booths like at the old TJJ , where you could invite or be invited over to sit and chat in a more intimate setting with a new friend . . or group of old friends .
      A larger more open dance area might be ok in theory ; more space = more people , but it makes for less atmosphere and can have the reverse effect because , despite all our complaining about lag , club goers love crowds . Also don’t forget that local chat can only be “heard ” within 20 meters , so the larger the space the less people can “hear” each other in local chat , become involved in the general conversation and feel like they’re part of the crowd .
      What attracted and kept us all coming back at the old blue TJJ , even in the early hours of the morning just to sit at the bar and listen to the music when the place was practically empty , was the cosy intimate atmosphere .
      It’s one thing to be able to pull in a crowd when a DJ’s working . . but it takes something special for people to want to meet up there or just hang out when it’s only the radio stream playing and the old blue TJJ had it and then some . .



  7. Nixx
    March 25, 2013

    I have to say, my only experiences at Toby’s were negative ones. I had heard many rumors, also negative, rumors that do not bear repeating. Being a blues lover (and this was before I was a blues DJ), I decided to ignore the petty rumor mill and check out the club. Both times I attended, it was in the late night hours, after midnight. Both times Toby’s had a crowd of 20 or more. The ambiance of the sim and build was terrific. I loved the look and feel of the place.

    The music was good, as I recall it was modern blues. I did not see a DJ. I was not greeted when I came in. I said hello but nobody responded. I stayed for 20 mins or longer, and there was NOT ONE WORD of chat in local. My only conclusion was that those in attendance were bots. But I did not let that discourage me. Thinking that it may have been a fluke, that folks were simply involved in IMs and not paying attention to the room, I visited again on a different night. Same thing. There was a Host, but they never responded to my chat, or my IM.

    This was about a month before the club closed.

    Toby. I see that you are following this post. What you said above in the interview contradicts the rumor mill, of course. I have no vested interests in any club. People who know me can tell you I am an honest, and very friendly person who does not bad talk or propagate rumors. I urge you, in your resurrection of your venue, to keep things positive. Leave the negative of the past club there, in the past. Hire folks that will promote friendliness and open communication in the club. And… please don’t fill the place with bots.

    I’ll come by and check out the club once you’ve opened. I will give it an open mind.

    I did not post this to be controversial, or to start a post war. I wanted to give my opinion, and to wish you the best in your endeavor.


    • Ronda Saunders
      March 26, 2013

      . . I after reading Nixx’s comments .

      . . I’d just like to add that the old blue TJJ , which for several years was like a second home to me and many others and the subsequent new build prior to the closing down of TJJ , represent two totally different era’s for the club , sadly , moving from the sublime to the ridiculous .


    • Sundown Merchiston
      March 26, 2013

      My first DJ job was at the Juke Joint (the shack version) and I loved it. Even before I worked there, I loved going there on an evening and fighting for a dance ball at the edge of the room. Then, listen to the great music that was played there. I think many people were aware of the “non communicating people” be they bots or real avatars.. i dont wish to comment. All I know is this , Toby went through a lot of pain in those final few weeks and days of the Juke Joint. I have known Toby since that all happened and I know he has tried to put right the wrongoings that occurred there.
      Toby has given me the responsibility of “managing” at Tobys and one thing is for sure i will NOT accept any bots in the club. That will never happen while I am associated with the Juke Joint.
      I remember how it was , and how people felt able to drop in early Sunday mornings (UK time) and enjoy the chat and music and feel part of something that was great. Thats how I see the Juke Joint. A friendly place with as little drama as possible and the best blues DJs on the grid spinning there and a feeling of being part of something that was good. But , above all, Toby and Dearest proud of what they have rebuilt and brought back to SL.
      I sure hope people come back with “open minds”. I know there has been a lot of positive feeback and we all look forward to seeing you back there regularly when it re-opens and beyond.


  8. Jo
    April 3, 2013

    I liked the blue walled club — and dancing on the bar – glad Toby’s is reopening


    • slummagazine
      April 4, 2013

      The bar is there; will look for you dancing on it next time. 🙂


  9. avery saxena
    April 3, 2013

    I came to SL and met Toby just as the Juke Joint was closing. I didn’t know of any of the controversy at the time but went on to become great friends with Toby and Dearest and many of those of you who hung out at TJJ. I have to say that I always felt a bit left out and sad because I had never been to the club. When people talked about it, they talked as if they had lost a treasured place where they experienced love and laughter.
    The conversation has come up often since then as to whether it would reopen and I know this took a great deal of courage and soul searching on Toby’s part to accept this challenge. I know he and Dearest well and all I can say is that they are two of the most generous, kindest, hardest working people in SL or RL. I have no doubt that this is going to be a huge success. I have already been there several times and have to say that it feels a bit like Cheers (for American fans). For those of you don’t know Cheers was the local place to hangout with friends..otherwise known as a place where “Everybody knows your name”. Couldn’t we all use a place like that to come to at the end of the day. So, I hopefully will see you all there..I look forward to being a part of the gang this time, today and in the years to come. CHEERS!!!!


  10. Pingback: Toby does interview | DJ Sundown – plays the Blues

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on March 23, 2013 by in Art & Music, News, SL Life & Love and tagged , , , , , .


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 237 other followers

%d bloggers like this: