What hasn’t been heard as often over the last six years, under Jerry Shults’s ownership, are the sounds of live music.
There have been a handful of concerts, and occasional interest from large promoters, such as AEG Live and Live Nation. (The longest running tenant over the last several years has been Watermark Church, which uses the space on Sundays.)
But as the sixth anniversary approaches of Shults purchasing the Ridglea Theater and overseeing its listing on the National Register of Historic Places, there has not been, as many in the community expected or hoped, much in the way of consistent live music bookings.
In September, however, perhaps that will change.
It is the first of what Shults says will be more shows, more often at the Ridglea Theater complex in the months to come. (There is a Halloween party tentatively planned, but as of press time, any such event is nowhere to be found on the theater’s calendar.)
For those who might be skeptical after years of false starts, speculation and uncertainty, Shults says, “I don’t blame them.”
He says, as he has in the past, that the Ridglea Theater will cast a wider net than simply metal (he feels Tomcats West has that genre pretty well covered), and suggests “progressive country” as a potential area of interest.
“I like all music,” Shults says. “Nobody’s doing a lot of active burlesque — what we want to do is start packaging bands and burlesque together, because I think that would really work.”
Shults says he has held discussions with area booking concerns, such as Afallon Productions,Premier Live Experience and Blackbox Concerts, although he says the theater itself will be handling booking “for the time being.”
The Ridglea Room, the last of the three spaces Shults has renovated over the last five-and-a half years, the owner is most excited to show off, pointing out the stage height, the seating options and how the room, which he estimates will hold between 350 and 400 people, connects through a new doorway to the theater itself (it’s an addition Shults says he spent six months negotiating with preservation officials).
The Ridglea Room, which was, once upon a time, intended to be where the Moon reopened for business before the deal between the Moon’s Chris Maunder and Shults fell apart four years ago, has capacity on par with Lola’s Saloon and the Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge.
Shults stresses that it is just part of a whole, citing the Gilley’s complex in Dallas and its three distinct performance spaces — South Side Ballroom, South Side Music Hall and the Loft — as inspiration for the Ridglea going forward.
“This is a functional entity now, where the whole thing works together,” Shults says. “This is actually support for the theater, which never had infrastructure. And every successful venue I’m seeing has multiple stages.”
Asked about the status of his pending federal case, stemming from an arrest last year on charges of conspiracy to sell synthetic marijuana, Shults doesn’t hesitate — or elaborate. (The trial for Shults and his daughter, Amy Lynn Herrig, is set for later this year.)
“We’re all good,” Shults says. “We’ve got some really good things happening. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag; I’d rather just let it all happen, and let everybody find out about it, so we’re in good shape. Everything’s good.”
Here’s hoping the same holds true for the Ridglea Theater complex.