VENUE NEWS: Avalon Club Sets Stakes in Hollywood and New York & Double Diamond Club Shutters Its Doors (Click on More to view all articles)

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – The Avalon club name, already well established in Boston, will have a prominent place in the Hollywood, CA and New York club scenes.

Hollywood Entertainment Partners John Lyons and Steve Adelman reopened the historic 1,300-capacity Palace in Hollywood as Avalon Hollywood on September 15 and will reopen the former Limelight, housed in an old church, on September 20 as Avalon New York, primarily a DJ club. Eric Herz is booking the Hollywood club, (CelebrityAccess, June 12); John Debo is the DJ booker for the New York club. Each club will feature a lounge area called the Spider Club.

Lyons and Adelman have invested about $6 million in renovations between the two venues.

Herz can be reached at marc@ericherz@clearchannel.com; Debo, johndebo@avalonnewyorkcity.com — Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

Double Diamond Club Shutters Its Doors

(CelebrityAccess News Service) — Hard times have fallen on the 11-year-old Double Diamond club in Aspen, CO, the city's last late-night music space, causing it to shutter its doors. Spared in 1998 when club owner Greg Jurgenson and the club's landlords made a deal to keep the place open, there were no deals to made this time around.

"The Double Diamond enjoyed a lot of great moments and great folks," club owner /manager Jurgenson told CelebrityAccess. "Hopefully we will be able to find a new home for the club. Thanks to all involved. " –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

Carnegie's New Zankel Hall Opens

NEW YORK (AP) — It wasn't exactly classical Carnegie Hall: The pianist hopped on the bench and played the Steinway with his feet while the audience snapped its fingers in rhythm.

That joyously jazzy inspiration featured Cuban-born Omar Sosa, whose octet's performance packed Carnegie's new Zankel Hall for its first night of public concerts.

Some of the hottest tickets in town took spectators down two escalators, from Zankel's brightly illuminated entrance to the $72 million hall carved deep into Manhattan bedrock under Carnegie's main Isaac Stern Auditorium. The stage edge is nine feet from a subway platform, and the occasional distant rumble of a passing train adds to the cutting-edge new scene.

Zankel's inaugural 22 concerts mark the opening of the first of three major concert halls in America this year. The others are the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Max M. Fisher Center in Detroit, both opening in October.

But Zankel Hall will never have an opening night — not officially, anyway.

"I didn't want an opening night, per se, because I didn't want one type of musical genre to peg what we're doing," said Carnegie executive director Robert Harth.

What Carnegie did this weekend was to all but sell out about 600 tickets to each of its first four public concerts Friday and Saturday. Those that follow in the next two weeks are billed as the "opening festival."

Sosa's appearance Friday night followed a concert by Pulitzer-Prize winning composer John Adams, who conducted contemporary American classics in a program called "From the Steeples and the Mountains," after the Charles Ives piece by that name. It was the most "classical" of the initial performances, but even for this, the solo violin and cello were accompanied by the tongue-in-cheek-named Zankel Band, all wearing individually chosen, multicolored tops.

On Saturday, Anna Deavere Smith appeared onstage barefoot, in black pants and a white shirt. She delivered a one-person tour de force, acting out characters ranging from an Orthodox woman in Brooklyn who expounds on race — while asking a black youth to turn off a radio, since her faith prohibits operating electronics on the Jewish Sabbath — to the sharp-tongued humor of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards.

Smith, a black woman in her 50s, also impersonated Studs Terkel, the 90-something Jewish writer and social gadfly, who notes that the difference between two political candidates is so small it could fit into a thimble — with room left for a martini.

Merging theater with journalism, Smith dramatized America's spiritual issues, punctuating her points with punch lines that brought laughter from the audience. Her power comes from provocative lines that poke at our conscience, like the observation that we live in a society "where trivia becomes news … and we're less and less aware of the pain of others."

Later Saturday, the stage mellowed with the jazz of the Kenny Barron Quintet.

At Zankel, the programming idea is simple: Top artists from around the world, presenting just about every imaginable style of music and theater. This lineup gives a whole new meaning to the "crossover" concept, pairing such a traditional cellist as Yo-Yo Ma, for instance, with a group of popular Latin American players later this month.

Zankel echoes Harth's fresh approach to music management.

"There is a conscious effort on our part to fully embrace our programming philosophy: Great music comes in many forms and many sizes, and we believe as many of those musical genres as possible should be discovered by Carnegie audiences," he said in an interview.

A key word at Zankel is "adventurous," Harth said.

Countrywide Financial Corporation Acquires Naming Rights to Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – Calabasas, CA-based Countrywide Financial Corporation has acquired the naming rights to the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, now called Countrywide Performing Arts Center. CFC will pay $4.25 million over the next five years to the Alliance for the Arts, the fundraising arm for the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and its two theaters, the 1,800-seat Fred Kavli Theatre and the 325-seat Janet and Ray Sherr Forum Theatre, which make up the Countrywide PAC.

The pledge is the largest received by the Alliance for the Arts in its current drive to raise $30 million for the Civic Arts Plaza, and brings total contributions to date to $22 million.

"We were very choosy about who we approached for this naming opportunity," said Patricia Jones, president and executive director of the Alliance for the Arts. "We wanted a company who had the same appreciation for the arts; who understands that the arts connect learning experiences to the world of real work. –by Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

Summit Arena in Hot Springs to Open in November

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – A new 6,500-capacity arena under construction in Hot Springs, AR, will bear the name of Summit Arena. In a 15-year, $600,000 deal, Summit Bank of Arkadelphia, AR acquired the naming rights to the multipurpose facility, which is scheduled to open in November.

Tony Bennett will hold the venue's first concert on December 6.–Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

SF Conservatory of Music to Build New $80 Million Facility

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – The San Francisco Conservatory of Music has been educating and inspiring young musicians for more than 85 years. On September 29, the internationally acclaimed music school breaks ground on its new $80 million teaching, performance, rehearsal and practice facility in San Francisco's Civic Center taking its place in the nexus of the City's performing arts neighborhood and marking the newest addition in the area's cultural rejuvenation.

Located at 50 Oak Street within easy walking distance of the San Francisco Symphony, Opera and Ballet, the new San Francisco Conservatory of Music is scheduled to open in Fall 2006. Essentially doubling in size from its current 37,000-square-foot facility on Ortega Street in the Sunset District, the new Conservatory of Music at Civic Center provides dramatic improvements in classroom, studio and practice spaces. The new building will also feature several venues for performances, including a 120-seat Recital Salon, a 160-seat Recital Hall, and a 450-seat state-of-the-art Concert Hall.

"The San Francisco Conservatory of Music has been educating young artists and nurturing their musical potential for nearly a century," commented Conservatory president Colin Murdoch. "Our relocation to Civic Center will provide our students, faculty and alumni with even greater access to, and collaboration with, the City's performing arts community. Now is the perfect time-and 50 Oak Street the perfect location-to ensure the Conservatory's long-term growth, financial vitality, and international standing."

Engendering generous support from individuals, corporations, and foundations across the country, with nearly half of the $80 million project cost already committed, the Conservatory's move to Civic Center has been planned for more than three years. The current school — housed in a multi-unit building that the Conservatory has occupied since the 1950s — had become increasingly inadequate for accommodating the growing number of Conservatory students, faculty and public performances. The new, larger facility will serve a greater number of students and result in expanded programming, and most importantly, the Conservatory will continue to maintain its 6-1 student-teacher ratio at the new site.

Designed by the architectural firm Simon Martin-Vegue Winkelstein Moris, the new San Francisco Conservatory of Music at Civic Center blends traditional architectural elements with modern facilities. Ensuring the acoustical integrity of the new Conservatory is Kirkegaard Associates, whose credits include projects for Davies Symphony Hall, Chicago Symphony Center and Barbican Concert Hall in London, among others. Originally built in 1914, the historic facade and ballroom of 50 Oak Street will be preserved, while non-historic parts of the eight-floor building and the adjacent structure at 70 Oak Street will be transformed into state-of-the-art educational and performance spaces.

Founded in 1917, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music offers music degrees to graduate and undergraduate students, preparatory and adult extension classes, community enrichment programs, and provides music curriculum support to the San Francisco Unified School District. The Conservatory presents more than 360 public performances each year, including the acclaimed BluePrint New Music Project, and the popular holiday "Sing it Yourself Messiah". –by Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Crosses Removed From Nightclub Fire Site

WEST WARWICK, Rhode Island (AP) — Two crosses dedicated to deceased Great White guitarist Ty Longley have been removed from the site of the nightclub fire in West Warwick.

Jody King, vice president of The Station Family Fund, which offers money to those affected by the fire, filed a police report Monday about the crosses' disappearance from the site, which has been turned into a makeshift memorial of crosses, teddy bears and other mementoes.

Police spokesman Al Giusti confirmed a report had been filed, but would not say whether any crosses or memorabilia had been removed from the premises of The Station, the one-story nightclub where a Feb. 20 fire killed 100 people and injured 200.

"It's an active investigation," Giusti said.

The fire started after Great White, a 1980s rock band, set off pyrotechnics during a performance. Longley was among those who died in the blaze.

King said a member of The Station Family Fund's board was visiting the site and discovered the crosses were missing on Saturday. The woman told King a note had been left where the crosses once stood, along with other mementoes such as teddy bears, candles and flowers. King provided a copy of the note to The Associated Press.

"Ty and his band killed my daughter," the handwritten message read, with a blacked out space after the last word. "I'm sorry but Ty doesn't deserve to have a cross here."

It included a warning: "As many times as something goes up, I will tear it down."

King said he didn't think he needed to go to the police at first, but then he realized he had to report the incident to get it on the record in case something else happens at the site.

King said a detective made a copy of the note. Giusti would not confirm the existence of a note or whether police had a copy.

On Sunday, King and a friend who's a part-time welder made a steel cross for Longley. The memorial is in the shape of a guitar, with a bar intersecting the guitar's neck to complete the cross shape.

Later that day, the pair dug a three-foot trench at the site, and rooted the cross in concrete, King said.

"It's going to take a backhoe to get it out," King said.

Giusti said police were unaware a new cross had been placed at the site.

One of the original crosses for Longley was made by his father and his girlfriend. The cross was shipped to King, who put it at the site. Attached to it were pictures of Longley's son, Acey, who was born this summer. The other cross was made by The Station Family Fund, King said.

King lost his younger brother, Tracy, in the fire. He has a portrait of the bald 39-year-old tattooed over his heart. He said he understands some people may be mad at the band, though he is not.

"But this was a father who sent a cross to his son, a (girlfriend) grieving for her soul mate," King said.

No charges for woman who removed crosses

WEST WARWICK, Rhode Island (AP) — Police will not bring charges against a woman who removed two crosses dedicated to Great White guitarist Ty Longley from the site of The Station fire, police said Wednesday.

Police Chief Peter Brousseau told The Associated Press that authorities determined criminal charges are not warranted because items placed at the site are considered abandoned property.

The attorney general's office also reviewed the case, Brousseau said.

Diane Mattera, of Warwick, said she took Longley's crosses down because his band set off the pyrotechnics that sparked the Feb. 20 blaze, which killed 100 people including Longley and Mattera's daughter, 29-year-old Tammy Mattera-Housa.

She said Longley's cross did not belong with the crosses of the other victims.

One of Longley's original crosses was made by his father and his girlfriend, Heidi Peralta. Attached to it were pictures of Longley's son, Acey Ty, who was born this summer.

Peralta said Longley was an innocent victim of the fire.

Brousseau said police plan to monitor the site more closely.

"There are a lot of things up there at the scene that people have left, and some people feel differently than other people do, so it doesn't surprise me that there was some sort of dispute," Brousseau said.

A replacement memorial for Longley _ a steel cross in the shape of a guitar _ has been mounted in cement at the site.

Britney Spears Plays Surprise Vegas Show

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Partygoers hit the jackpot at the Palms hotel-casino over the weekend when singer Britney Spears hit the stage unexpectedly.

The pop star, along with a group of dancers, belted out three songs from her upcoming album at the popular Rain nightclub early Sunday morning.

"We tried to keep it a secret," said Rain co-owner Scott DeGraff of the Chicago-based N9NE Group. "We wanted to make it a surprise for people. I know people were shocked. No one knew."

Her performance began about 1 a.m. and lasted thirty minutes.

Not only did the 1,800 people inside Rain get an up-close look at Britney, DeGraff said, but they also each saved hundreds of dollars. The nightclub didn't charge extra for the Britney bash.

DeGraff said MTV was also on hand to film Britney, as were a number of celebrities in Las Vegas for the boxing match between Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand.

"It was just a crazy night," DeGraff said. "The place was just mobbed."

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