Rumors are flying that Blackstock Auditorium, 940 Blackstock Drive in Knoxville’s Warehouse District and the former home of Electric Ballroom and The Valarium, is shut down, and we’re trying to get to the bottom of what happened.
I reached out to Jay Harris, a former employee of the venue who still books the alternative dance night Temple there, and he provided what so far has been the best account of what apparently went down over the weekend. After Friday night’s poorly attended Confederate Railroad show (one source who went said there might have been 40 people there), the venue was apparently “closed down on Saturday night due to lack of payment on the lease,” Harris told me — emphasizing, of course, that his information is all second-hand.
A private show with rapper Waka Flocka Flame was supposedly moved to the laser tag facility Battlefield Knoxville (and apparently ended in thrown beer bottles, cops and a whole other story that’s still unfolding, with the rapper apparently heading down to Rumorz on “The Strip” to keep partying), and after hearing of the debacle, Harris said he went by Blackstock on Sunday.
“A security guard was there, and I told him who I was and way I was there and asked what was going on,” Harris said. “I was told that there are new owners becaue the lease had expired due to non-payment and that the new owners are planning on keeping it a venue. I was told the new owners were there, cleaning up, and when I asked to speak to them, they agreed, and the security guard took me on back. They let me know that they want to keep it as a venue and that they want Temple to keep its home there. So until they get their ducks in a row — beer and liquor licenses, a health inspection, etc. — we’ll have to find a new place to hold it this month and next month. They just want to make sure the place is awesome to make sure it doesn’t have the problems did when Blackstock opened.”
The new holders of the lease wish to remain anonymous for the time being, Harris added, and the whole thing dropped in their lap at the last minute.
“I think they were working seriously to get things happening and were hoping to get it, but they got a phone call over the weekend and the owner of the building told them that if they wanted it, it was theirs,” Harris said. “I can’t say who they are, but I can tell you this — when I saw who it was, I was relieved and excited that this venue will finally be what it has the potential of being.”
Overtures to Daniél Leal, who held the lease for Blackstock, haven’t been returned so far, and it’s probably safe to assume that any shows booked for Blackstock will likely have to be re-negotiated with the new lease holders. Meanwhile, shows like the Southern Drawl Band gig on Friday night are in a state of flux; Wally Miles, organizer of Wallypalooza, has put his event on hold for the time being. We’ll update this post as we find out additional developments.