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Mississippi Nights to Close

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www.factorybelt.net
The end of an era?

After months of speculation and rumor, it can finally be said: Mississippi Nights, a concert club favorite since 1979, will close its doors after one last jam session takes place on Friday, January 19.

But the popular venue at 914 North First Street may live on elsewhere in St. Louis.

Mississippi Nights' co-owner, Rich Frame, says he's looking at several locations, with the current front-runner a completely new building to be constructed at Olive Street and Compton Avenue, two blocks away from the new Saint Louis University arena. Frame says he's in contract negotiations and says there's a 50-50 chance the venue will end up there. If that happens, Mississippi Nights' new digs will be on the first floor of a mixed-use complex that also includes retail, a parking garage and condominiums. Capacity will remain roughly the same (1,000 people), with a projected opening date of November 2007.

"That area is going to get nothing but better," Frame says of the intended locale. "We'll have plenty of parking, and we'll be two blocks away from the new arena."

Pinnacle Entertainment, a Las Vegas-based owner and operator of casinos worldwide, obtained the property on which Mississippi Nights sits from the city in 2005. "Pinnacle came to us and said they'd lease it to us -- that they'd lease it to us for a year, and more than likely we'd probably be there close to two years, because they didn't really see any need to take us down," Frame says. "Then they had a change of heart for some reason."

Pinnacle representatives could not be reached for comment for this article.

Losing Mississippi Nights, a mid-size venue that filled a gap between the smaller Creepy Crawl and larger Pageant, will likely affect the kind of acts that tour St. Louis. Recent years have seen well-attended shows from Built to Spill, Wolfmother, Sleater-Kinney, the Decemberists and the New Pornographers. In its heyday, Mississippi Nights put St. Louis on the national concert map. Nirvana played its only St. Louis date there, while seminal artists such as the Police, Hüsker Dü, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joe Cocker, Dead Kennedys, 311 and Lucinda Williams graced its stage.

Before the venue closes, however, Mississippi Nights' booker, Tim Weber, is putting out a call for musicians to play the January 19 jam session, which begins at 8 p.m. and will celebrate the last 27 years of music at the club. Interested parties can e-mail tweber@mississippinights.com or call 314-421-3853. We'll leak performers as we know them.

Stay tuned for more on this story.

-Annie Zaleski

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