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House Of Blues Seeks a D.C. Home
The 9:30 club, which opened in 1980 at its original location, 930 F St. NW, and moved to its current location on V Street NW in 1996, has thrived in the District, introducing local audiences to the likes of Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins and Ben Harper.
Representatives for the House of Blues and its parent, Clear Channel's live-music spinoff, Live Nation, did not respond to requests for comment on the deal.
The House of Blues was founded in 1992 in a historic colonial house in Cambridge, Mass., with funding by a star-studded group of investors that included Dan Aykroyd, Paul Shaffer, River Phoenix, the band Aerosmith and Harvard University. The company eventually grew to become the second-largest live-music promoter in North America, but not without some controversy. Gay groups and others, for instance, have protested the occasional booking of acts whose lyrics advocate violence against gay people.
Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the live-music trade publication Pollstar, said the sale of the company to Live Nation is likely to speed expansion plans.
"House of Blues is the most successful brand in music clubs in the nation, and they have been successful by and large in every market they have entered," Bongiovanni said.
The arrival of a House of Blues club does not necessarily portend problems for others, Bongiovanni said. Chicago's famous Park West club has survived, as have numerous smaller venues, since the chain arrived in the Windy City.
"Should [Washington concert promoters] be worried that House of Blues is coming? Of course," Bongiovanni said. "But there are certain acts that will play at House of Blues and certain that will play at the 9:30 club and certain that will play at other places like the Black Cat. It doesn't have to mean the end of local clubs."
More competition can sometimes translate into higher ticket prices, as clubs are forced to increase the money they bid for acts, Bongiovanni and others said.
The NCRC's Warner, however, said his office studied the impact that House of Blues would have on local music promoters and venues and found that there were a large number of artists searching for medium-size venues.
"This will open up even more opportunity for national, international and local artists to come to the District," Warner said.