The local music community has been mourning the absence of the Southgate House all year, but it's time to cheer up! It's now official that the original owners of the Southgate House will reopen in a new location in Newport. I had a chance to sit down with Morrella Raleigh to chat about the new venue, their plans for the near future, and I got a tour of the new space on 6th Street in Newport.
She revealed to me, and in a press release sent today, that the venue will officially open its doors the first weekend of October. She didn't reveal who is lucky enough to christen the three stages of the venue on October 5th, but said they will be making those announcements shortly on their Facebook Page.
For those of you that don't know me well, I'm a huge fan of the former Southgate House and the community surrounding it. Our first post on CincyMusic.com was a sort of tribute to the legacy of that place.
The Grace Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1866, just after the Civil War. It is one of the few historic churches that remain in Newport, and this is where the new venue, dubbed The Southgate House Revival, will reside. The main room of the new venue (dubbed The Sanctuary) still has an original pipe organ that was made in Cincinnati by Koehnken & Grimm that will sit behind the main bar. The Sanctuary is similar in size to the other small clubs in the area and will serve as the main room for larger events. The sides of the room are flanked with several gorgeous stained glass windows that will certainly become a focal point of the venue. The stage is a great size for the room, and it has very easy access to the outside with only a few steps for band equipment load-in. There is a very large green-room area behind the stage with private restrooms, and a balcony area that will allow the bands to see the crowd from their private loft.
The room that will likely end up being used most often is The Lounge. This area will cater to acoustic musicians, Open Mic Nights, and other small acts. The room is very cozy, and is located directly outside of The Sanctuary.
Hands down, the coolest room in the place is The Revival Room. This is the mid-sized room on the second floor. The stage is framed into the wall with an old mural of Mt. Adams above it. The shape of the ceiling lends itself to amazing acoustics. Plus, there is a small nook to the side opposite of the bar that will be full of couches and chairs for people to just relax and escape for a bit.
This venue, like the former Southgate House, offers a place for local music lovers to congregate. I told Morrella during our interview that sometimes I feel like going out, but not necessarily dealing with a bar or a crowded venue. The Southgate House Revival is a blend of a music venue, bar, and your best friend's living room.
Q. Why are you calling the new venue The Southgate House Revival?
A. It is a new beginning, a new chapter; I felt the name change was in order. At the end of last year it hit us that The Southgate House was much more than a building. It is almost like a lifestyle or community. That's why it's important to be in the name. Plus, it's in a church. The new name is a nod to the fact that we aren't letting it die. It is too important and means too much to people in our community.
Q. Was there a defining moment that made you decide that relocating the venue was the right thing to do?
A. People's response to the closing of The Southgate House solidified that it was the right thing to do to relocate and reopen. It felt like you were left homeless, and there was a sense of responsibility to see this through.
Q. Shawn Norton has always been the sleeveless icon of the Southgate House. Will he be running sound at the new place?
Q. I have always said that the heart and soul of the former Southgate House was the staff. What familiar faces can we expect to see at the new venue?
A. Our staff is our heart and soul and we're a family. It's my hope that everyone that worked with us at the end will be coming back. With the length of time that it has taken to reopen of course a lot of people have moved on to other jobs and its understandable that they won't be able to come back, but I have spoken with a majority of staff and I do know that most of them will be returning.
Q. You have been deeply ingrained in many venues over the years such as The Aronoff Center, U.S. Bank Arena, and The Southgate House. What did you take away from your years of experience that we will see in this new space?
A. We have been able to address many issues during the renovation that will make the shows completely enjoyable from both the fans and artists standpoint. Ease of use from the production side of things (a SUPER easy load-in), and a comfortable, inviting place that is going to make them be able to have a one of a kind experience that you want to have.
Q. Who is booking the room & how should local bands go about contacting you?
A. Morrella Raleigh - email@example.com
It's been a long year so far, but The Southgate House Revival is finally back with even more heart and soul for the Cincinnati music community. We'll definitely let you know when the first events at the venue start trickling in; you're sure to see me there.