Coran Capshaw became an investor in Satellite Ballroom roughly a year ago, in the summer of 2006, according to Chuck Adcock, the owner of the Ballroom and Michael’s Bistro. “Primarily as a financial boost,” says Adcock. “That’s when we first started working together.”
The two venue owners began to meet every few months: Adcock—who began hosting concerts in the Satellite Ballroom in 2004, after taking over the space’s lease—most often met with Capshaw at his Red Light Management office, from where Capshaw controls his multiple local venues, among them Starr Hill Music Hall. “We would make sure we weren’t butting heads [on booking choices],” says Adcock. “He came to Satellite a couple times. We talked about the sound, about improving the space.”
At a bit before 10pm on Thursday, June 28, Jamie Sisley of Red Light issued a press release with the Starr Hill and Satellite Ballroom logos on the header, announcing a “partnership” between the two venues. Following a July 7 concert by local rock act Navel, the Starr Hill venue will close.
“The ownership arrangements become a little more formal,” Adcock says. “Before, [Coran’s] was a separate investment.” Now? “Coran will actually have part of the business.”
Chuck Adcock (above), owner of the Satellite Ballroom, partners with Coran Capshaw as Starr Hill closes following a July 7 concert and shows are moved to the Ballroom.
Many of the concerts billed as “Starr Hill Presents” and slated for the Music Hall on West Main Street will move to the Ballroom’s location on the Corner; August concerts by Ben Kweller and Israel Vibration initially scheduled for Starr Hill are already posted on the Ballroom’s schedule.
The word “cooperation” is on the tip of every tongue: Danny Shea, solely responsible for the Ballroom’s booking until this point, says that he anticipates “a great spirit of cooperation and a venue better serving a wide audience,” and notes that “[his] only concern is in playing catch-up, as things have been moving very quickly here.” Shea will retain regional booking responsibilities at the Ballroom; More Music Group, which has booked concerts in town for more than 20 years, will take over national booking responsibilities.
“But it’s going to be one big cooperative effort,” Sisley repeats. “Mike Jones and Melissa Boyle [booking agents with More Music Group] did booking at Starr Hill and the Pavilion and will be helping out at Satellite. They’ve been working with Coran for a very long time.”
Andy Waldeck answers his cell phone at Bodo’s and asks for a moment so that he can exit the crowded restaurant before speaking about the partnership. Waldeck’s X-Porn Stars were scheduled to perform on July 20 in the Starr Hill Music Hall, but the band is nowhere to be found on the Ballroom’s schedule.
“And my guitar player, Joe Lawlor, had booked Starr Hill as a reception area after his wedding,” Waldeck says. “So that’s off.”
A good number of bands have played both venues, from nationally recognized act Junior Boys to local metal-hybrid group Under the Flood. And while “cooperation” is still the theme of the partnership, not everything can be accommodated.
“There has been a little bit of politics,” says Waldeck, giving an example from his band’s history: “XPS never wanted to be exclusive to one venue or another—we’d do Starr Hill once, and one show would invariably go to the Outback Lodge, and back and forth.”
XPS performs with up to nine members, many of whom live out of town. “It’s hard to get everyone in town on a specific day so, since everyone will be in town on July 20, we kinda have to play.”
Waldeck says that his concert will move to the Outback Lodge, and Terry Martin, Outback’s booking agent, confirms it. The partnership between the venues “is actually gonna help me,” says Martin.
“I’m probably going to pick up a lot of their Lounge gigs. Jeyon [Falsini, manager of Starr Hill’s free Cocktail Lounge gigs] came to me.” Martin adds proudly: “The thing is, we’ll definitely be Charlottesville’s longest running music venue.”
As venues, music scenes (Jam bands versus indie bands? Who’s to say?) and niches converge, what will the fans make of this partnership—this plan to, as everyone repeats, “cooperate”?
“Coran didn’t come in and take over the club,” says Adcock. “We want to perpetuate that indie crowd and identity, but they”—the crowd—“can be tough. It will be interesting to see what the public perception is.”—Brendan Fitzgerald, with additional reporting by John Ruscher