I can almost hear the proclamation from a future mayor: "And inasmuch as June 21, 2005, was a day of tremendous change for music fans between 18 and 20 in Madison, henceforth June 21 will be forever known as City Ordinance 38.06 (12) Day!"
Well, that may be a bit excessive. But June 21 was the day that Madison's Center for Visual and Performing Arts ordinance amendment was passed by the Common Council. The new rule provides a licensing system and conditions for nightclubs to legally open their doors to patrons between 18 and 20. The opening of additional venues to those under legal drinking age has become even more important after the unexpected shutdown of the all-ages Journey Music last weekend, along with a recent crackdown on underground venues and house parties.
Currently, 10 venues hold CVPA licenses: the Annex/Regent Street Retreat, the Cardinal Bar, Club 5, Club Majestic, the High Noon Saloon, Kimia Lounge, Madison Avenue, the Palace Latin Club, Peking Palace and Tailgators. Most of these clubs have been offering specific performances open to patrons between 18 and 20.
"Overall we've had good feedback about [the ordinance]," says Stephanie Rearick, chair of the city's Alcohol License Review Committee. "It helps clubs attract a previously untapped (or illegal) audience and enables them to get bands that have younger crowds. The university is very happy with it since we can now offer some legal entertainment for some of their thousands of students. Some concerts have a stronger underage draw than others, and I really don't know how much it's being taken advantage of."
According to Cathy Dethmers, owner of the High Noon Saloon, not much. "To be honest, we have not seen many patrons under 21 at our 18-plus shows," she says. "I'm not sure why this is happening, as the shows that we designate as 18-plus are typically the ones we think would appeal most to the underage music crowd. I still think it's great that the law was passed to allow 18-plus shows to happen, but it is kind of disappointing when we go to the extra trouble and expense to provide them and no underagers show up. Where are they?"
Of course, there are other local venues where people under 21 have been welcome all along. Shows at the UW Memorial Union and Union South are open to ages 18 and up. Most shows are free, but technically you need to be a Union member, or a guest of one, to attend.
In addition, many shows at larger venues like the Barrymore Theatre, the Orpheum Theatre, the Overture Center, Club Majestic, the Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum and the Kohl Center are open to all ages. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Madison has a vibrant array of coffeehouses offering live music on a weekly basis, including Mother Fool's, Escape Java Joint, Zuzu Cafe and Middleton's Prairie CafÃ. The Lussier Teen Center/New Loft books shows for teens.
And fans of the Journey Music, take heart ' manager Tom Klein says he's looking for a new space now that the landlord has booted the club from 1517 Regent St.
"At this point we are focusing on finding homes for the 20 or so shows previously scheduled to be at the Journey Music. Once things start to settle back down we will be searching for a new property to continue booking all-ages shows for Madison's youth."
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Sept. 12), Third Day, David Crowder Band (Sept. 27).
The Annex, 1206 Regent Street: The Gossip, Erase Errata, Mika Miko (Sept. 8); Sol.illaquists of Sound, Glue, X:144 & SPS, Prolyphic (Sept. 23).
Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave.: Built to Spill, Helvetia (Sept. 14), Dark Star Orchestra (Sept. 20).
Club Majestic, 115 King St.: Matt Costa (Sept. 13), Regina Spektor (Oct. 17).
High Noon Saloon, 701 East Washington Ave.: Neon Vaudeville featuring Not On Mars, Nick Mortensen, the Robins, Art Paul Schlosser, Christine Esche and the Mad Rollin' Dolls (Sept. 13), Youngblood Brass Band (Sept. 21).
Kohl Center, 601 W. Dayton St.: Tool, Isis (Sept. 19).
Orpheum Theatre, 216 State St.: Josh Ritter (Sept. 23), Los Lonely Boys, Ozomatli (Nov. 3).
UW Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St.: Maritime, Brighton, MA (Sept. 8), World Music Festival (Sept. 21-23).
UW Union South, 227 N. Randall Ave.: Ska festival with Something to Do, Umbrella Bed, Odd End Out, the Katsmen, the Roughness, Skaput (Sept. 15).