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Johnny Needs You

Bring Johnny Home

“… the best of why we love house concerts … It needs to survive.”

Jeff Plankenhorn

If you ever played or went to a concert at Johnny’s Speakeasy, you know that our friend and super warrior for all things music (as well as MANY other causes) would never ask any of us for this help – all the more reason he deserves it! If you love house concerts in general, know that he is the best of why we love house concerts and his venue I have personally played since the 90’s! It is beyond special to me. It was formative. It needs to survive.

Check it out, please do what you can – let’s help our friend because I am damn sure he’d do it for you.

“Johnny’s Speakeasy is a historical treasure that deeply enriches our community and must be preserved.”

Judy Banker

There is no place like Johnny’s Speakeasy and only someone like Johnny Williams, a songwriter/musician who has had a lifelong passion for good music, and a high regard for his fellow artists and the listening audience could create such a singular space. Any artist who has played there knows there isn’t a venue like this anywhere or a venue owner/operator like Johnny. Anyone who has sat in the Speakeasy audience knows this too. Johnny’s Speakeasy is a historical treasure that deeply enriches our community and must be preserved.

“…Johnny’s Speakeasy radiates love and light throughout the community.”

Rachel Lynn

I’ve had the privilege of performing at Johnny’s Speakeasy on a few occasions. With a musical career spanning numerous venues, I can say that Johnny’s place stands out as one of the most distinctive and intimate. From the instant I stepped inside, an aura of love and warmth enveloped the space. This venue has been a source of immense joy for me as a musician, offering a unique haven to express my creativity to a remarkably attentive audience. Undoubtedly, Johnny’s Speakeasy radiates love and light throughout the community.

Jim Latini

Loved the FLB Christmas shows….
Thanks to Johnny for all of it, including the vids.

Here’s a couple:


“Christmas shows with John Latini and the Flying Latini Brothers. How special they were. And how I miss them both.”

JKevin Smith


“…the crowd and the community built by Johnny Williams has just been second to none.”

Wild Ponies

People often ask us “what’s your favorite of all the venues you’ve ever played?”. We’ve been lucky to play some great ones. We’ve played in all 50 states, all over Canada, Europe and the UK. We’ve played some really big stages and some tiny little corners. Even with all of that, all those places we love dearly, there’s an easy answer as to which has been our favorite – Johnny’s Speakeasy in Ann Arbor Michigan. No question. The physical room itself was fantastic, but the crowd and the community built by Johnny Williams has just been second to none. It’s a room where people lean in to hear every note, every syllable. They roar when we wrap up a rocker and cry with us through the sad ones. But the REAL sad ones, the ones that really hit – that’s when they jump to their feet and Johnny rings the jingle bells. God I miss it so much. The family we made at those shows is such a treasure to us. I wish everyone could experience a show at Johnny’s Speakeasy, but now it seems like it might not be possible for anyone to ever hear a show there again. Come on Tripple A. Step up and do what you’ve been paid to do. It’s a simple thing and it’s the right thing.

“Johnny’s Speakeasy is a cultural icon of Ann Arbor.”

Dana Cooper

Johnny’s Speakeasy is a cultural icon of Ann Arbor. It was Johnny Williams’ dream to create a space where local and national touring singer songwriters could share their music in an intimate listening room setting. The first time I performed at Johnny’s Speakeasy I was immediately taken with the deep sense of community in the audience. It hurts to see the shabby way AAA is treating Johnny after all his generous support of artists like myself. But it’s heartening to see the way his community of friends is rallying to bring his dream back to life. Long live the Speakeasy!

“People sat. People listened. No assholes in attendance.”

Bobby Pennock

Oh gee. So many memorable shows there. It is the venue where I first saw John Sperendi play. At that moment I knew I wanted to play with him. And it happened!
The last Peter Case show there was pretty spectacular. The Flying Latinis! Jan Krist and Kitty Donohoe! The save the school house benefit. I can’t even sort all the shows. People sat. People listened. No assholes in attendance. And I met some awesomely awesome people there. Tamales! Let’s not forget about the tamales. Enjoyed some great hangs there with Dan Hall and Johnny, too. Simply put, there is not a venue that comes close to the Speakeasy. Oh how about that great shuttle from the Plum Market parking lot that ran the last few years?!

“Lots of time hanging, recording, performing, laughing, drinking, falling in love with everyone—most of all—Johnny.”

Dan Hall


“It was wonderful to become a regular and have the magic repeated time after time. We feel so lucky to know Johnny and the Speakeasy!”

Maureen Sheahan (fans)

I couldn’t believe how incredible the Speakeasy was on our first night there (thanks to Bob & Barb for inviting us)! The fascinating space, amazing collection of musical stuff and memorabilia, the happy and welcoming community of people, and the really fabulous music. It was wonderful to become a regular and have the magic repeated time after time. We feel so lucky to know Johnny and the Speakeasy!

Nancy Kogelschatz

Every show at the Speakeasy was magical and amazing. Beautiful people gathering to share their love of music and community. We met so many wonderful people through the Speakeasy, many we don’t see since the Speakeasy closed due to covid, then was taken by the fire. Oh, how I long for another concert at the Speakeasy.

Al Cholger

Johnny Williams is the ideal host of a music listening room and the Speakeasy is the ideal place to hear a broad spectrum of traditional, folk, Americana and traditional music. I’ll never forget the spellbinding effect of walking down into this deep barrel vaulted basement and entering a wonderland of Johnny’s well curated collection of art, lighting and memorabilia.

This is a venue that deserves to be saved.

Brenda Miller

Johnny has always welcomed my family generously, hosting my husband, San and my daughter, Emily to play at the Speakeasy. He sweetly chatted with my mom and I during “half time” of their shows. My 90 year old mom is smitten, as we all are, with his easy, wholehearted embrace.

Dave Boutette

For over twenty-five years Johnny’s Speakeasy has not only been an ideal venue for experiencing intimate and inspiring performances, but also a meeting place for Ann Arbor’s music community to connect and create. Collaborations and bonds initiated down in the Speakeasy have enriched the local and regional music scene in countless ways for many years, benefiting audiences well beyond it’s walls.

Michelle Held

Johnny’s Speakeasy is like a portal fantasy and the first time I stepped into the space, I felt like Lucy in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, full of wonder and awe. This is a special venue that embodies the warmth and generosity of its owner Johnny Williams. Now we must save the speakeasy from the evil witch that is AAA.

Mary Seelhorst

It was always easy at the Speakeasy.

In my four-plus decades of playing in bands, Johnny’s was the only place that always felt like home. A show at Johnny’s meant going early to hang out in the kitchen. A show at Johnny’s meant a room full of smiling friends who listened intently and laughed honestly. A show at Johnny’s meant giving and receiving in equal measure. A show at Johnny’s meant feeling great at the end of the night after sharing stories, playing music, reconnecting with friends, having a cold one.

But the best part of a gig at Johnny’s was getting to see John’s kind smile and hear one of his great stories or perhaps some gentle wisdom.

Even though the venue is gone, John recreates that community wherever he goes. The spirit of the Speakeasy lives on.

Hugs and love
Mary Seelhorst

Eugene Pavlov

A Eulogy for the Basement Speakeasy: A Once-Magical Haven Lost in Flames

Walking down the long staircase into the basement felt like entering a different world. The tall ceilings and the cool, old-school bar with its vintage cash register set the perfect mood. It was a spot where great artists once performed, and you could feel the history in the air.

One standout memory for me was just taking in the unique atmosphere—dark, cozy, and alive with the spirit of a time gone by. The people who hung out there were friendly, and it felt like a community of folks who appreciated something special.

Sadly, a fire took it all away. It’s not just the loss of a house; it’s the loss of a place for good times, connections and music.