The legendary New Daisy Theater on Beale Street is undergoing a major transformation, and next weekend's concert featuring the Chris Robinson Brotherhood will be the public's first chance to see what the music venue has in store.
Since announcing that he would be taking over the New Daisy, music mogul Steve Adelman has been hard at work restoring the iconic Memphis theater.
In the midst of the major renovations, the New Daisy secured booking partnerships with Live Nation and Disco Donnie Presents, a move that Adelman hopes will bring more than 150 concerts to Beale Street annually.
From the removal of the stage backdrop to major improvements in lighting, sound, seating, and bar access, there's a lot to look forward to at the New Daisy.
"This building had a lot of issues and needed a lot of work done to it — things like issues with plumbing and air conditioning," Adelman said.
"We fixed all of that stuff to get a base for us to work from, and then we had multiple teams of engineers and lighting people come in and assess what we needed to do."
One of the first things concertgoers will notice at the show on Saturday will undoubtedly be the new sound system. Major scaffolding has been erected onstage to support the new speakers and lighting system, giving the venue a much-needed updated look. By partnering with the sound company Funktion One, the New Daisy now has a sound system so modern that Adelman said the equipment isn't available for mass production yet.
"People are definitely going to notice how much the room has changed," Adelman said.
"It's always been a great room, but the entire thing has gone through a major upgrade.
"I don't know that people are used to seeing state-of-the-art stuff in this room, and I think that's going to take a lot of people by surprise. Sound and lights are what it's all about when it comes to today's concert experience, and we aim to be the best."
While the bare-bones charm of the New Daisy is still present, the seating and bar areas also received major makeovers. The venue now features three bars instead of one center bar, and a smoking lounge is being built on the side of the venue, giving patrons the option to smoke on a patio or walk out on to Beale Street.
The balcony at the New Daisy is also in the process of being renovated into a VIP area with plush seating and private boxes available. Christened the Big Star Room, the VIP balcony area will be curated with Big Star memorabilia handpicked by Big Star drummer Jody Stephens.
While the Big Star Room won't be ready for next weekend's concert, Adelman said that portion of the club should be open by September.
The Big Star Room will also have a private entrance from Beale Street and have its own bathrooms. A membership must be purchased to access the room, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting musicians' health care and other charities of Stephen's choosing.
Adelman said he expects the Big Star Room to be one of the main attractions of the New Daisy.
"The balcony here at the New Daisy is amazing. I know in a lot of places the balcony is the last place someone wants to sit, but there's something about this room that makes the balcony just perfect," Adelman said.
"I don't want to give too much away, but it should be a very plush experience. Live Nation already has this type of thing in some of the Fillmores that they operate, and it works very well. Companies will be able to buy corporate boxes up there, which is another added dimension that we're going to unveil. It's going to be a loose membership club, but it will all be reserved seating."
With more than 20 years in the music industry, Adelman has operated clubs in Los Angeles, New York, and Boston. While he insisted that operating clubs is a similar business no matter where they are located, Adelman did acknowledge that the New Daisy and Beale Street in general have a history that no one can deny.
"We want bands to come through Memphis and say, wow, that's the room to play," Adelman said.
"Live Nation is our booking partner, and they also help out with some of our marketing. But the New Daisy is an independent room with a certain history, and no one wanted to mess with that. We just wanted to expand it. We are all about being able to improve the band's experience as well as the patron's experience."
The public's first experience with the transformed New Daisy will come on July 31st when the Chris Robinson Brotherhood performs at the renovated venue.
Most notably known as the singer for the Black Crowes, Robinson's stop at the New Daisy will be toward the end of a tour that took him through the American Southeast. Adelman said that the "sneak peek of the New Daisy" couldn't happen during a better concert.
"When we decided to work with Live Nation, we wanted a certain vibe and a certain act to get our feet wet, and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood fit what we were trying to do perfectly," Adelman said.
"We got lucky with Chris Robinson, but sometimes it's better to be lucky than good."
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Friday, July 31st, at the New Daisy Theater. Doors open at 7 p.m. $20.