The Southgate House, a local music venue, closed for the last time on New Year’s Eve. The historic building housed a large two-level ballroom for regional/national acts, a mid-sized Parlor complete with a full bar, and a small barroom for duos and small bands. The venue offered free live music every night in the barroom, and provided a large venue for artists who prefer not to sign their lives over to TicketMaster or Live Nation.
The ballroom has hosted NOFX, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, The Queers, They Might Be Giants, The Black Keys and many other popular indie bands. The venue is closing due to a dispute among the family that owns the historic building that houses the venue. I take comfort in this over alternative reasons for the business to end, such as a lack of support from the community.
The family plans on opening the venue in another location soon. Although no confirmed announcements have been made, the rumors abound. There is talk that the new venue will remain in Newport and open in another historic building as early as February of 2012. I am hopeful that this gaping hole in the local music scene will be filled so quickly.
I’ve seen too many acts there to list. Not only will my memory fail me, but typing the list would exhaust my fingers. I will focus on the highlights. My favorite shows there were put on by DeVotchka, The Seedy Seeds, The Heartless Bastards, Mates of States, Jupiter One, the now defunct Young Republic, She Wants Revenge and Bad Veins. The DeVotchka show I count among my favorite shows of all time. I was transported to a musical bliss state for which I have no words to adequately describe it.
The Seedy Seeds gave me my last great show at the venue. The show was packed. We managed to get in front of the stage. They played a couple of originals about The Southgate House, one was an ode to their signature shot the Tommy Gun, Jameson with a pickle juice chaser. The mood at the show was that of a joyful celebration of all the great memories housed in that building. They wrapped up the show with a cover of “I’m Sailing Away”. They invited the audience on stage to contribute to the song. The stage was overwhelmed with lusty singers, their faces bright and shining with joy. It was a beautiful last moment in a place that had so many beautiful moments over the years.
Thanks to The Seedy Seeds. Thanks to the people who worked hard to make The Southgate House what it was. Thank you for your commitment to music. I look forward to your next work.