The Carver Theater reborn
Following years of sporadic programming, The Carver Theater is prepping for a busy 2017 with a loaded concert calendar and exciting new upgrades to the historic building. A new management team aims to put The Carver back on the map as a premier destination for live music through booking a stacked lineup of local and national touring artists.
A recent $8 million renovation retrofitted the space with state of the art equipment including a new sound system, professional-grade lighting rig, and video equipment for live streaming events at the theater. The once-dormant theater is making a big comeback and leading the way for a revamped Orleans Ave.
For over 65 years, The Carver has been a staple of Orleans Ave. The theatre was originally constructed in 1950 as a movie house for the Treme community that was recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. In the 80s, the theatre was transformed into the Treme Medical Center, with walls erected in the auditorium to create separate rooms.
The Carver sustained serious flood damage during Katrina and sat vacant until 2014 when it reopened with the first shows on its stage in decades. Since then, the theatre has hosted the occasional show here or there but never resumed a full schedule until now.
The new management team aims to return The Carver to its former glory through booking top local talent as well as national touring acts to create a new type of venue in New Orleans. “We’re hoping to make this space a hybrid between a theater and a club: it has the size and resources of a theater with the local feel and regular schedule of a club,” says General Manager Chris Ritter. Ritter, a veteran of the live music and comedy scene in Chicago, has been working around the clock since last August to realize his vision of showcasing original New Orleans music on a world-class stage.
Ritter and his team have invested heavily in upgrading the theater with everything from a spacious VIP lounge to new parking lots surrounding the building. Urban South Brewing has signed on as a partner, with their best-selling Holy Roller IPA available on tap throughout the theater. All of the upgrades led to the creation of 40 permanent new employees, including box office attendants, bartenders, and security guards. And the team is already looking to the future of Orleans Ave., with hopes of transforming two abandoned properties on the street into a restaurant and coffee shop.
The new schedule begins on January 7 with Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes playing a free show, and will continue with free shows every Saturday through February 4. Weeknight shows will start at the responsible time of 8:00 sharp and feature a different genre each night: blues on Mondays, jazz on Wednesdays, and brass on Thursdays. Expect to see some big names come through for French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest later this spring.
1/7/17: Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes w/ Waterseed
1/9/17: LA Harmonica Players Tribute to Little Walter
1/11/17: Aurora Nealand & Royal Roses
1/12/17: Young Pinstripe Brass Band
1/14/17: The Revealers w/ The Brass-A-Holics
1/16/17: Little Freddie King
1/18/17: Panorama Jazz Band
1/23/17: Ladies of the Blues
1/25/17: Snake & the Charmers
1/26/17: TBC Brass Band
1/30/17: Papa Mali w/ Blues Guitar Heroes
2/1/17: Jumbo Shrimp Jazz Band
2/2/17: Young Pinstripe Brass Band
2/4/17: Darcy Malone & the Tangle w/ The Dana Abbott Band
2/8/17: Aurora Nealand & Royal Roses
2/9/17: Free Agents Brass Band
Shane Colman writes about music for NolaVie. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @canesholman and on Instagram at shawncoolman.