New Day Rising

Preservation Hall reborn, plus Firedog returns from the road.

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Lucas School House

Nearly six months after opening, the Lucas School House (1220 Allen Avenue; 314-621-6565) boasts a healthy show schedule full of local acts, DJs and touring bands. But it's not going to be the only concert destination in Soulard for long, as another cozy music venue is slated to open in April 2007.

The new spot, named Preservation Hall, will be located at 1921 South Ninth Street near such bars as Molly's and 1860's Hard Shell Café. Co-owner and co-developer Lindsay Barth says the venue plans to primarily book jazz and blues acts — "things that are too small to go to the Pageant, but [suited to] a bigger venue than Savor" — along with small theater productions. (Partner Nancy Novack says Preservation Hall will seat from 250 to 300 people for shows.)

But like the Lucas School House, Preservation Hall is also designed to be used for banquets and other events. "In a nutshell, anyone who wants to rent the building, we'll consider [them]," Barth says. "We're going to keep the building very versatile."

Adds Novack: "We're not old fuddy-duddies. We'll allow a little element of hip-hop. Jazz and blues seems to be something our age group tends to gravitate toward, but we don't want to leave people out."

The building housing Preservation Hall dates from the 1890s and has been used as a school, a meeting place, a union hall and the Hungarian Civic Center (at the turn of the twentieth century). Special features of the completely refurbished venue include a spiral staircase leading down to a wine cellar, fourteen-foot-high ceilings and ten-foot windows.

Barth describes the intended interior as having "more of a '20s and '30s look to it, a big-band-club appearance," although Novack doesn't want to give off the impression that it'll be at all old-fashioned. "We want to have a modern interior that's bright and spacious and flows really well," she says. "We'll somehow commingle aspects of history with that, more than just re-create some period piece.

However, it's difficult to separate the building's rich history from its current existence — after all, the name Preservation Hall refers to the legendary New Orleans jazz establishment. In fact, the former owner of the Soulard building, Bob Brandthouse, used to drive down to the Crescent City, pick up zydeco bands and drive them to St. Louis to perform — and then turn around and drive the musicians back home.

Novack wants that air of camaraderie to continue when Preservation Hall opens next year. "We want it to be a people-friendly place," she says. "There's a lot of life left in this building."

One wouldn't blame Mark Pagano if he was a bit tired as of late. The local musician recently returned from the Love-O-Rama tour, a multimedia extravaganza that hit fourteen states for thirty-five shows. Featuring himself, his visual-artist brother Mike Pagano, director Rebecca Rivas and local musician Celia, the show included live video-mixing, music and Rivas' documentary, At Highest Risk.

"As a collective, our main goal was to create a network of like-minded creative people, and provide an outlet for independent media and the creative spirit," says Pagano.

Pagano's band Firedog will be back in town this weekend for two shows: On Friday, November 24, the band'll be at Atomic Cowboy (4140 Manchester Avenue; 314-775-0775) for a SCOSAG benefit that starts at 8 p.m.; on Saturday, November 25, Firedog plays the Schlafly Tap Room (2100 Locust Street; 314-241-2337) at 8 p.m. alongside Celia's Big Rock Band.

Don't forget about the South Side Rocks Off 2 event on Saturday, November 25, starting at 7 p.m. Bands scheduled to perform include Rats and People, the Monads, the Ottomen and more; see for more information.

Sex Robot Mario Viele checks in to say that Nathan Browningham — whom he describes as a "one-man act playing two keyboards simultaneously, along with a drum machine he programmed, singing pop tunes he wrote that immediately draw comparisons to Prince and Michael McDonald" — appears at Lemmons (5800 Gravois Avenue; 314-481-4812) on Friday, November 24. And on that same night, be sure to wear waterproof mascara to the Creepy Crawl (3524 Washington Boulevard; 314-531-3888), as Femme Fatality plays their last show. The Bureau and Lapush, among others, open.

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