Originally created 06/08/06

Blue Horse builds toward success



Looking beyond the unfinished wallboard, the miles of wire yet to be strung and coats of paint waiting to be applied, Augusta native Joe Stevenson and new arrival Steve Dierkens see the Blue Horse Music Hall, under construction on Broad Street, as a success story waiting to happen.

Envisioned as a way to engage both the artist and fan in the nuts-and-bolts of the music business, the Blue Horse will feature a performance space, a state-of-the-art-recording facility and a retail center.

Mr. Stevenson, the general manager of booking and promotions, said a goal was to give a fans a fishbowl look at a professional music operation. To that end, the offices, studio and sales center will all be visible through large sheets of glass.

"The basic concept is to bring the music fan into the whole world of the music business," he said.

Mr. Dierkens, the studio/venue general manager, said another goal was to find a way to put the many moving parts of a career in the entertainment industry under one roof.

"I think we're as much for the artist as we are for the music fan, which is rare," he said. "They can print, have posters and photos done, have a record made, perform and sell their stuff - all in this one place."

The centerpiece at Blue Horse will be its performance space, designed with both seated chamber-style and standing-room audiences in mind.

Mr. Stevenson said the goal is something that slots neatly between the smoke and noise of a bar and the please-be-seated vibe of a theater. He sees the Blue Horse as complementing other live music spots downtown.

"We're coming down here to fit in," he said, "Our whole thing is promoting downtown. Come down, eat, see a show and then go out afterwards."

Mr. Stevenson said that much of what will set the Blue Horse apart will stem from his studio-savvy partner. Mr. Dierkens previously did sound work for Disney, Dreamworks, Warner Bros. and, most recently, on the Fox animated sitcom Family Guy. He said marriage found him looking for a lifestyle that he didn't see in Hollywood.

"The 20-hour days and ridiculous things you see in Hollywood weren't appealing," he said. "So I just said, 'I quit.' We looked for a place that was affordable and the people were nice, and then this opportunity came up."

A little less than a month into his open-ended residency, Mr. Dierkens, looking at the embryonic space that will become the Blue Horse, smiled.

"It just feels right," he said.

The Blue Horse Music Hall, 975 Broad St. will open July 6.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.