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VENUE NEWS: Hard Rock Cafe To Open at Foxwoods Resort Casino (Click on More to view all articles)

Hard Rock Cafe International is opening a 10,000-square-foot cafe in the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. The new cafe is scheduled to open next summer, and is part of the $99 million expansion of its Rainmaker Casino

According to Hard Rock executives the deal is a continuation of the company's "strategy to align with well established and burgeoning Indian resort and gaming properties." Foxwoods is owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

Other Hard Rock and Indian resort and gaming properties include a Hard Rock Beach Club with the Mississippi Band of Choctaws at the Pearl River Resort in Mississippi which is opening next month; and in mid-2004, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino properties will open in Tampa and Hollywood, with the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida.

The New Melody Fair Theater Gets Renewed Life

After a dark season last summer, the New Melody Fair Theater, upstate New York's 3,400-seat theater-in-the-round, has been given a new lease on life thanks to an experienced team of industry professionals in Western New York State.

Albany-based promoter Jim Anderson, owner of Will-Jam Productions and who has booked concerts nationally for the past 28 years, plans to bring new life to the venue over the next 10 years, along with Patrick Fagan, former president of Shea's Performing Arts Center (Buffalo, NY); jazz musician Bobby Militello, who helped build Trafalmadore Cafe into a top music club; Buffalo, NY promoter Ed Tice; and promoter Ed Smith, former owner of Melody Fair, reports the Buffalo News.

Fagan's PJ Entertainment Group will handle marketing and promotion; Militello will help develop an annual Melody Fair blues festival; Tice's WNED Buffalo Niagara Guitar Festival will be included in some Melody Fair events; and Smith will serve as a consultant to Will-Jam.

"It's different than any other kind of theater, and people feel differently about it," Anderson said in the paper. "They have long memories of places like this."

At a press conference last month, Fagan said they are all "committed to restoring Melody Fair to its glory years. The lineup is really strong," he said. "If we're not successful, it won't be for lack of bringing in great talent."

For more information, contact Anderson a 518-274-0316; e-mail:

The New Melody Fair Theater summer schedule is:

June 10 Chicago
June 13 Dan Fogelberg
June 15 Gallagher
June 20 David Cassidy
June 21 Blues Festival
June 24 Joe Cocker
June 25 Hall & Oates
June 26 Doobie Brothers
June 29 "Weird Al" Yankovic
July 12 Loretta Lynn
July 15 Music of ABBA
July 18 Pat Benatar
July 19 Tom Jones
July 20 George Jones
July 23 Carrot Top
July 25 Travis Tritt
July 26 Tower of Power
July 27 George Thorogood
August 1 John M. Montgomery and David Worley
August 3 Huey Lewis
August 7 Jim Brickman
August 8 Vince Gil
August 9 k.d. lang
August 10 Alison Krauss
August 16 Judy Collins and the Wildflower Festival
August 29 Aretha Franklin

Kiel Opera House Getting $30M Renovation

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis landmark is about to get a new life.

Developer Donald Breckenridge has announced plans to renovate the Kiel Opera House, refurbishing the ornate art deco building into the performing arts and community center of its past. The building is scheduled to reopen in 2005.

"After spending the last seven months researching and planning this project, I'm totally committed," Breckenridge said Monday.

Breckenridge plans to spend up to $30 million to renovate the opera house, which closed in 1991 when a civic group demolished the adjacent Kiel Auditorium to build what is now the Savvis Center, home of the St. Louis Blues.

The Kiel Opera House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

Under a joint operating agreement, Clear Channel Entertainment of New York and St. Louis-based Fox Associates would bring Broadway shows and other entertainment to the 3,500-seat auditorium. Plans also call for renovation of four smaller theaters that could be used for smaller productions and speeches.

Savvis Center is the lessee for the complex that includes Savvis and the Kiel Opera House. Savvis Center President and chief executive Mark Sauer said owners Bill and Nancy Laurie will waive rental payments for the first 20 years after the renovation is complete.

Breckenridge said the majority of financing already is in place. State historic tax credits will help fund the project.

Bronco Bowl To Close In October

Dallas' Bronco Bowl is closing its doors to make room for a retail/restaurant complex to be anchored by Home Depot that will help revitalize the Oak Cliff area. However, it will remain open through October while final plans for the land are developed.

The 3,500-seat venue saw such artists as Bob Dylan, U2, R.E.M., Midnight Oil and Backstreet Boys. Motorhead and Anthrax are scheduled to play there May 22.

"It's nostalgic, of course, to lose the Bronco Bowl. It's been here for 40 years," Dallas Mayor Laura Miller said. "But this is a terrific project."

Bronco Bowl owners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2003.

Nightclub Fire Claims 100th Victim

Providence, Rhode Island (AP) – Two and a-half months later, the fire at a Rhode Island nightclub has claimed another life.

Pamela Gruttadauria died last night at Massachusetts General Hospital from injuries she suffered in the fire.

That brings to 100 the number of people who died. Nearly 200 others were injured in the fire, which was sparked by a pyrotechnic display from a rock band.

Today, workers with bulldozers are at the site. They'll be demolishing the ruins of the club, and collapsing the foundation. The site will then be covered with fill, in order to make the area safe.

Gospel Singer to Head Mobile Arts Center

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Gospel singer Roger Breland will head the Baptist-affiliated University of Mobile's new performing arts center that will develop music for evangelical churches, the school's president announced.

President Mark Foley said Breland, a Mobile native and a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, will expand the department's offerings.

The school will continue to provide the foundations in music education ranging from classical to jazz to opera, but under Breland's leadership there will be a new emphasis on contemporary Christian options, Foley said in a statement Thursday.

"We'll expose students to professionals in both the sacred and secular music industry in the areas of performance, business, production and other roles," Breland said.

Breland is the founder of the contemporary Christian group TRUTH, which disbanded last year.

Breland joined the university in November as special assistant to the president and artist in residence and was charged with helping the school create a broader exposure for its music program.

On the Net:

Mobile Arts Center

Rick Hontz New Assistant GM at Budweiser Events Center

Rick Hontz has been named the new assistant general manager at the Budweiser Events Center, opening this September in Loveland, CO, at the Larimer County Fairgrounds and
Events Complex. Hontz will assist in the pre-opening phase of the facility as well as in the booking and day-to-day management. The venue is managed by Global Spectrum.

Hontz, a Global Spectrum veteran of five years, was previously assistant general manager and director of marketing at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ, and
marketing manager at the First Union Center in Philadelphia.

Group Wants to Reopen N.J. Arts Center

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) — A newly formed group has developed a plan to reopen the John Harms Center for the Arts.

Bergen Performing Arts Center Inc. presented the plan, which includes the creation of an endowment and a public-private partnership, during a two-hour meeting that more than 100 arts patrons attended.

"This is a new organization, and we plan to do it the right way," Harms trustee Frank Huttle told the meeting Monday. Plans also include a fund-raising campaign and the creation of a "world-class" management and foundation team.

The Bergen Performing Arts Center group also includes Alpine Borough Councilwoman Ronny Siegal and Harms trustee Edmondo Schwartz. The group was incorporated last week with the goal of raising money for the theater and putting it back on a sound financial footing.

The Harms Center, a venue for musicians, dancers and other performing artists, was closed April 14 after it couldn't make payments on $2.3 million it borrowed to make extensive renovations.

Huttle said the group hopes Bergen County would issue tax-exempt bonds to pay off some or all of the center's debt. County Executive Dennis McNerney said he'd ask the Improvement Authority — a semi-autonomous agency with the ability to issue the bonds — to consider the request.

The group also will ask the Englewood City Council to designate the theater as a historic site, which would enable it to qualify for more grants.

On the Net:

John Harms Center for the Arts Web site