Mount ClemensJuly 26, 2012
Emerald closure sparks arts movement
By Julie Snyder
C & G Staff Writer
MOUNT CLEMENS — The recent closure of the Emerald Theatre has spurred a movement that those involved hope will bring attention to what appears to be the fading away of live musical entertainment, and art in general, in Mount Clemens.
The Million Musician March will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 4 outside the Macomb County Administration Building on Main Street in downtown Mount Clemens.
The movement is being organized by St. Clair Shores resident Steven Foster, lead singer of local funk/rock band B-DAB.
Foster said he was shocked when he learned that the popular concert venue and nightclub had closed for good on July 18 after being foreclosed.
“I just said, ‘That’s it. We have to do something about this. More and more artistic venues — first the Hayloft, then the Emerald — are closing, and now the DIA is in danger of closing,’” he said. “At first, it was to show support of the Emerald Theatre, but now it’s a show of force to bring attention on the arts in general. It will be more of a show of creative force to the city, a gathering of artists and friends.”
The details of what will happen Aug. 4 are still in the works, but Foster is thinking of setting it up so local bands will be able to perform a song or two during the afternoon, and he wants to allow people who want to to give any kind of speech they wish about the topics of arts and music.
Foster, whose band has played “countless” times at the Emerald Theater during its 10 years, knows the Million Musician March will not result in the re-opening of the Emerald Theatre, but the event won’t be for naught.
“The ultimate outcome will be the strengthening of networks and giving (musicians and artists) a place to make connections with individuals who are able to help them out,” he said.
Bill “Billistik” Hoerauf, frontman for the heavy metal band Black Dawn, said the loss of the Emerald Theatre will be hard on many bands, including his, which has been playing around the area for 20 years.
“It’s sad,” said the Clinton Township resident. “We played there the year before last at the Fall Metal Fest and had an awesome time. And I played there with one of my old bands.
“It was one of very few clubs in the area left where we could play our kind of music,” Hoerauf said. “All that’s left is The Ritz (in Warren) and Harpo’s (in Detroit), but a lot of people don’t like to go to the neighborhood (around Harpo’s).”
The Emerald Theatre was indeed one of the city’s last places where local and nationally known bands could perform their music. Unfortunately, the concert venue and nightclub was bought out by Talmer Bank and Trust for just over $600,000.
The building’s owner, Joe Nieporte, a local festival promoter behind such events as the Mount Clemens Stars and Stripes Festival, did not return calls for comment, nor did James Sarconi, the attorney for Talmer Bank. Emerald Theatre co-owner Mike Mitchell could not be reached for comment.
The building housed a vaudeville venue when it opened in 1921. Mount Clemens Mayor Barb Dempsey recalls growing up in the 1960s and watching movies at what was then called the Macomb Theater. It was also once a dinner theater before being purchased by Nieporte, who opened it as the Emerald Theatre in 2001. Over the years, the Emerald has been host to such big names as Kid Rock and Uncle Cracker. Sports Illustrated held its Super Bowl party there in 2006.
“The Emerald Theatre was a big entertainment venue for the city, so sure, anytime you close anything in the city it’s a loss to the community,” Dempsey said. “Hopefully, someone will get in there and turn it around and re-open it. But it’s an old building and it needs some work to bring it back up to what it was.”
Future announcements about the Million Musician March will be posted on B-DAB’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bdabmusic.
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