Goodbye, Anthology! Hello, Music Box!
Anthology, the plush downtown concert venue and restaurant that abruptly closed Jan. 1, 2013, after a six-year run, will reopen next month under new ownership as the Music Box.
The property, which was in foreclosure, was acquired last October by the San Diego company 1337 India Street LLC, which paid “more than $1.55 million for it, according to one of the owners, who declined to be identified. Damon Barone, who is a manager of 1337 India Street LLC, is also a co-founder - with his brother, Daren - of the Barone Group, a San Diego-based investment banking firm.
The first show at the Music Box will be Sept. 17 by Texas bluegrass band Whiskey Myers. Grammy Award-winning singer Julieta Venegas, who grew up in San Diego and Tijuana, will perform at the Music Box Sept. 18-19. A full list of the venue’s 14 confirmed performances appears below. Only eight of the shows are currently listed on the venue’s website.
Ticket prices for the 14 shows confirmed so far range from $12 to $47 for general admission and $27 to $70 for VIP box seats. Tickets are on sale online at ticketweb.com, although the box office is not scheduled to open until next month.
Joe Rinaldi, the Music Box’s general manager and talent buyer, said he plans to announce at least eight more shows next week.
Jazz and pop-jazz acts, which constituted between a third and half of Anthology’s bookings, will only have an intermittent presence at the Music Box. The jazz shows will be booked in collaboration with Brian Ross, who oversees shows at The Loft @ UC San Diego. While Anthology had an all-ages policy, the Music Box will be 18-and-up or 21-and-up, depending on the show.
Veteran San Diego audio engineer John Edwards, who worked at Anthology for four years, will oversee sound at the Music Box. The venue’s enormous video screen at the rear of the stage has been traded out for an LED screen. The curtains at the front of the stage have been removed, which Rinaldi said helps to open up the space.
The Music Box is now undergoing extensive remodeling. It will have a capacity of 705, substantially more than Anthology’s capacity of 272.
The physical size of the Music Box - 13,000 square feet, covering three floors - remains the same. But all the seats, tables and booths from the ground level have been removed to create a larger, standing-room-only area, and the previously sloped floor has been flattened. The horseshoe-shaped bar has been replaced by a horizontal bar, parallel to the venue’s north wall, which opens up more space.
The second floor will house five VIP “opera boxes,” which can each accommodate six to eight people.
What was the Taylor Guitar Room for small private parties on the third floor will now be used for audience meet-and-greets with Music Box performers. The third floor will accommodate general admission standing patrons along the railing overlooking the stage. Depending on the show, between 20 and 40 tables - seating 40 to 120 people - can be set up on the third floor, which will also have a balcony and lounge area for those wanting a break from the music. There will be food service at the Music Box, but not the high-priced quasi-gourmet dishes that often made a night of dinner and a concert at Anthology an expensive proposition.
Beyond the expansion of its audience capacity, the Music Box will look very different from Anthology, thanks to the addition of artwork that Rinaldi said will cover nearly every available inch of wall space in the venue. His key focus, however, is to present a diverse array of established and rising music acts that cater to a broad audience.
“I think my main objective, which everyone involved with the Music Box is on board with, is for us to be a multi-genre venue,” Rinaldi said. He previously booked acts at the House of Blues and the Viper Room in Hollywood, as well as at such San Diego venues as 4th&B, The Merrow and the Hard Rock Hotel.
“We’ll do 28 shows at the Music Box between Sept. 17 and Nov. 22,” said Rinaldi, who earned a degree in economics from UC San Diego in 1992.
“I don’t think we’ll be lucky enough to have as much programming (7 nights a week) as the Belly Up (in Solana Beach). I think we’ll build to three to five shows a week. But (initially) we’ll be open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday - that will be our critical core. We like our chances.”
The website for the Music Box cites downtown’s Prohibition Lounge as a “sister property.”
“Some of the guys in ownership (of the Music Lounge) also own Prohibition and two of Nicky Rotten’s Bar & Burger Joint (locations),” Rinaldi said.
Anthology had a number of silent business partners. So, apparently, does the Music Box.
“I work with a couple of operating partners; I met a few (new) people yesterday,” Rinaldi said in a Tuesday night interview. “There are a couple of managing partners. I can’t confirm the number of owners... I’ve never asked who does what or owns how much. I never asked the owners of the Viper Room who did what. I’m trying to do the best job I can of operating the (venue).”
Rinaldi predicted that the growth of Little Italy since Anthology’s abrupt closure two years ago should bode well for the Music Box. His hope is that the venue will be an equally appealing destination for nearby residents and music fans who live in other parts of San Diego.
The fact that the Music Box is larger than the Belly Up and smaller than House of Blues and Observatory North Park will, he believes, helps the venue to stand out in the increasingly crowded San Diego concert market.
“We just get on our neighbors’ and our city’s destination map,” he said. “We can talk about the bands and food we’ll have. But if the whole city considers us a viable destination, and their favorite band decides to play at our venue, I’ll consider that (a major success).”
The Music Box concert schedule (all shows are at 8 p.m., unless otherwise indicated).
Sept. 17: Whiskey Myers, $12 advance, $15 day of show, $27 VIP
Sept. 18/19: Julieta Venegas, $47 advance, $50 day of show
Sept. 25: Tamia, $28 advance, $31 day of show, $47 VIP
Oct. 2: David Cook, with Andrew Ripp, $20 advance, $22 day of show
Oct. 3: Musiq Soulchild, $37 advance, $40 day of show
Oct. 15: Listen Local Radio All Access Fest, with 10 bands, 5 p.m., $5
Oct. 28: Rusted Root, $25 advance, $30 day of show
Oct. 30: Radio Latina Halloween show (acts and prices not yet available)
Oct. 31: Energy 100.3 Halloween show (acts and prices not yet available)
Nov. 11: Raheem DeVaughan & Leela James, $37 advance, $40 day of show
Nov. 13: Fiji, $20 advance, $23 day of show, $47 VIP
Nov. 14:Lost ‘80s, $27 advance, $30 day of show, $57 VIP
Nov. 21: Everclear $27 advance, $30 day of show
Union-Tribune researcher Merrie Monteaudo contributed to this article.