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The Knickerbocker Music Center

The Knickerbocker Music Center


Event Planning Entertainment Adventures+Attractions


The Knickerbocker Café, a storied music club in Westerly, Rhode Island, was built in 1933, shortly after the end of Prohibition. The Café itself is named after a train, the Knickerbocker Express, that passed through Westerly station at the time of the Café’s founding.

The club thrived as one of the leading entertainment centers in southern New England, hosting regional and national bands with an emphasis on the blues. Some of the greats that played on the Knickerbocker stage included, Big Joe Turner, Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, Johnny Nicholas, Leon Russell, Eric Burdon and Stevie Ray Vaughan. In 1967, Roomful of Blues was born in Westerly, when guitarist Duke Robillard and pianist Al Copley started a band that played tough, no-holds barred Chicago blues. Making the Knickerbocker Café their home club, it did not take long before they started exploring swinging, jumping blues and added a horn section. Roomful would pack the house every Sunday and still plays their great brand of blues today.

Fast forward and the Cafe has become the Knickerbocker Music Center, with a mission to preserve, cultivate, celebrate and teach Westerly blues and all other forms of music. The Knickerbocker Music Center, with our sister organization, the United Theatre, allows for centralized marketing, and the coordination of physical space. Located just around the corner, The United, together with The Knick creates a multi-venue regional campus for the arts.

The United is a regional center for the arts and arts education; showcasing world-class performing, visual and creative arts. Since 2014, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School has partnered with The Knick to engage more than 5,000 students in the Westerly & Chariho school districts. Together, The United and The Knick provide an Educational Learning Center for 300+ weekly lessons, classes and ensembles to students of the Philharmonic Music School.

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