Ever wanted to own a New Orleans music venue?
Chickie Wah Wah, the cozy listening room at 2828 Canal St., is for sale.
The estate of late owner Dale Triguero is offering the real estate at 2826-2828 Canal St., most of the club’s contents and the rights to the Chickie Wah Wah name and website as part of the sale.
The asking price for the package is $995,000. Offers are due by April 22 at 5 p.m. Shelley Lawrence of Latter & Blum is representing the seller.
After moving to New Orleans from New York in the 1990s, Triguero got his start in the local music business at the Old Point Bar on Algiers Point. He curated a diverse mix of roots music, including brass bands, funk, jazz and singer-songwriters.
He further refined that mix at Chickie Wah Wah, which he opened in 2006 in the former home of the Canal Bus Stop, a dive bar where brass bands occasionally performed.
Music the main attraction
Triguero cultivated Chickie Wah Wah as a destination where people came to actually sit and listen to music. He booked music he liked, mostly local roots music, singer-songwriters and adventurous jazz, plus touring Americana acts.
He crafted a comfortable, inviting space, with tables and chairs facing a small stage tucked into a corner of the long room. He decorated the walls with signs from closed New Orleans businesses and at least one church.
But music was always the main attraction at Chickie Wah Wah. By starting shows earlier than many other music clubs and banning smoking before the city mandated it, Triguero created an atmosphere that accommodated music fans who wanted to see a quality show but not stay out until the wee hours, especially during the week, or go home smelling like smoke. His club was a self-proclaimed “adult music bar with food,” one that he constantly sought to improve.
Over the years, a trio consisting of Anders Osborne, fellow guitarist John Fohl and harmonica player Johnny Sansone was featured for a popular weekly show. Singer Meschiya Lake and pianist Tom McDermott also held court each week, as did keyboardist Jon Cleary. Singer-songwriter Paul Sanchez was a regular in the club’s rotation.
Tank and the Bangas, Papa Mali, Alex McMurray, Samantha Fish, Susan Cowsill, John “Papa” Gros, Ed Volker, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, the Creole String Beans, Woodenhead, Gal Holiday & the Honky Tonk Revue and dozens of other local acts performed there, as well as touring artists such as guitarists Bill Kirchen, Alejandro Escovedo, Mason Ruffner and Joe Ely.
Like every other music venue in New Orleans, Chickie Wah Wah closed its doors in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic spread. By that fall, Triguero had started webcasting performances from the club without audiences.
He died July 8, 2021 from complications following heart surgery.
Triguero’s retirement plan
Reggie Seay, an attorney and longtime friend of Triguero’s who often worked the door at Chickie Wah Wah, was named executor of his estate. Triguero, 68 at the time of his death, wasn’t married and had no children. His two brothers, who live in New York, are his only family heirs.
The estate has followed a retirement plan Triguero had discussed. According to Seay, Triguero had wanted to sell a house he was renovating in Algiers Point, use the proceeds to pay off the Chickie Wah Wah building, then sell the building and business and move to Los Angeles.
After Triguero’s death, Jacques Ferland, another Triguero friend and a fixture at Chickie Wah Wah, lobbied Seay to reopen the venue prior to any sale. Meschiya Lake was also keen to see live music restored to the room.
With the estate’s blessing, Ferland – who repairs and restores pianos and installed one in the bed of a pickup for the roving “Piano In a Truck” pandemic concerts – and Lake jointly took on the responsibility of bringing Chickie Wah Wah back to life.
Working together, they spruced up the venue. The room hosted a celebration of life in honor of Triguero on Oct. 5, then officially reopened to the public the next night with a performance by Lake and pianist Tom McDermott.
Lake filled the rest of the October and November calendars with many of the same artists that Triguero frequently booked.
But she resigned from the club that November. Following Lake’s departure, Ferland took over booking duties. He and Seay have since run the club jointly.
The house that Triguero owned on Algiers Point was sold. With those proceeds, the estate paid off the Chickie Wah Wah building and obtained clear title to it.
The sale comes with a couple of caveats.
All gigs currently on the Chickie Wah Wah calendar must be honored. Gigs are booked through May 21, by which point the estate hopes to have closed on a sale.
Some items inside Chickie Wah Wah, including the piano and elements of the décor, are not included in the sale.
But the ice machine, refrigerators, lighting and cameras, sound board and audio, music and kitchen gear are included – along with the considerable goodwill attached to the Chickie Wah Wah name.
Potential buyers should contact Shelley Lawrence at [email protected].