ITHACA, N.Y.—Ithacans will soon have a new live music option in town, as the Deep Dive bar and restaurant opens its doors with a packed schedule of shows coming this fall. 

Deep Dive, located in the same spot as the former bar The Dock, is owned and operated by T.J. Schaper and Jack Clausen, both well-known in the local music scene and the founders, along with Clausen’s wife, Sarah, of the Ithaca Night Bazaar. Mike Enyeart is also serving as Associate Manager. While shows are being held there currently, the club has its opening night festivities scheduled for next week.

“It fell into our lap, in a way,” Schaper said. “I was at a crossroads, ‘Do I want to go back on tour again, do I want to get a 9-to-5?’ I’ve been to a lot of venues all over the world, and Jack was like ‘I want to open a music venue,’ and I said that would make sense.” 

The Dock location at 415 Taughannock Boulevard in Ithaca, which had been closed but is obviously well-outfitted for live music, presented itself and Schaper and Clausen decided to jump at the opportunity. Schaper had been a regular performer at the frequently held Reggae Night for years at the Dock. 

“The room is very special to me, and it’s clearly special to the community,” Schaper said. “The stories that i’ve been hearing from different people from the different iterations of the place, I think it’s been a music venue for 52 years, it’s been overwhelming.”

A fresh paint job, a DJ booth made out of a boat, some new murals, new artist space and new beer and food options are all parts of the effort to attract new customers to the location under Schaper and Clausen. There will also be a mix of conventional live music shows and comedy programming, with daily hours Wednesday through Friday 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. and 12 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with brunch options from noon until 4 p.m. and food available all day otherwise. 

From his time touring and making connections in live music in the region and beyond, Schaper said he has the contacts to get engaging musicians to Ithaca who may not have come otherwise—evidenced by the fact that the Deep Dive is already about scheduled out until March 2023. Reggae shows scheduled every other week start Sept. 14 and go until Oct. 12, and there’s a grand opening show on Sept. 16, featuring Double Tiger and Matt O’Brian’s Flying Object

“We want the room to be a place where people can see acts that they wouldn’t get to be that intimate with,” Schaper said. “Ithaca’s an interesting place when it comes to bands that can’t necessarily sell enough tickets to be in the State Theatre, but also wouldn’t work for them to play at a place like The Range or The Upstairs, they need more of a venue. We have an opportunity to get some artists in that play big rooms in big cities, but in Ithaca they need a space like this.”

With substantial time spent on several sides of the live music dynamic, all as booker, attendee and performer, Schaper said opening the Deep Dive feels like a culmination of those experiences. 

“This is all coming together for this place,” Schaper said. “In hindsight, it makes perfect sense that this is happening. It’s scary, though. […] I’m a deer in the headlights, a little bit, but I’m here for that.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com