As I first reported on Twitter earlier, what was scheduled to be the first concert at the restored, historic Ridglea Theater -- Down on Sept. 18 -- has been relocated to Trees in Dallas. According to owner Jerry Shults, the decision to move the show was "a mutual agreement" between himself and AEG Live, which has booked the first few shows slated for the Ridglea stage. (Trees owner Clint Barlow confirmed the move took place this afternoon; reps for AEG Live have yet to respond to a request for comment.)
Shults, who says the Ridglea received its certificate of occupancy this afternoon, says "a lot of different reasons" factored into the decision, but cited low ticket sales and a desire of not wanting to open the Ridglea with a metal group as just a couple reasons why Phil Anselmo and his bandmates will now be throwing down in Deep Ellum instead of just off Camp Bowie Blvd. "It sent a bad message to open with a metal act," Shults says, although he was quick to say that metal would still have a place at the Ridglea, if not immediately.
Despite this move, Shults says he's on "great terms" with AEG Live, and plans to meet with the booking entity next week to discuss potential long-term plans. As of this afternoon, Shults says there is still no contract signed with AEG Live.
Now, a Historic Fort Worth gala on Oct. 20 will be the first "official" event to be held at the freshly refurbished Ridglea Theater, and a "very excited" Shults says that's "more fitting," given the building's tortuous, occasionally harrowing route to historic designation. Painting has mostly been completed, says the owner, carpet is being laid, curtains and refurbished balcony seating is arriving over the course of the next week or so, and all the neon lighting in the lobby has been replaced.
The first concert to take place at the Ridglea, as of now, is the Temper Trap's Oct. 25 performance (rock band Say Anything is scheduled to perform at the Ridglea on Oct. 27). Although there won't be any live music for another month afterward, Shults says he's still working toward the Sept. 18 deadline to have major renovations completed.
As for the rest of the Ridglea Theater complex, Shults says they're still working through the liquor licensing process for the theater itself and the adjoining Ridglea Bar. Calling it "premature" to have opened the Ridglea Bar earlier this year, Shults now says nothing will open until the Ridglea Theater opens, calling the whole complex "hand-in-glove." "I don't want to open the bar independent of the theater," he said simply.
Parking negotiations for spaces surrounding the theater are likewise ongoing, according to Shults, who intimated that the Ridglea's neighbors were none too thrilled about the possibility of a metal show being the curtain-raiser at the restored theater. Still, Shults says the Ridglea renovation is slowly but steadily making its way to the finish line.
Says Shults, "It has come so far, especially [from] being a hair's breadth of being demolished."