New And Improved: The New Daisy Theater On Beale Street
In October 2015, Beale Street’s New Daisy Theater reopened after nine months of hard work and a total renovation. If you’re new to town, or just not familiar with the New Daisy, let me tell you this: the place is full of stories.
If you’re a local who hasn’t been to the new New Daisy yet, let me tell you this: those stories are only the beginning. The east end of Beale Street is just getting (re)started.
I recently met up with new owner Steve Adelman and Memphis music guru Elizabeth Cawein for a tour of the new New Daisy. Steve leased the building from the city in 2014 and used his years of nightclub experience to get started on crafting the venue’s next chapter.
“This building had nothing,” Steve told me. “What people don’t understand was, we had to strip it down to nothing and start from scratch. We had to do plumbing, electrical, cabling. Then we had to fix the crumbling structure, holes in the wall, and air conditioning.”
They uncovered a few surprises along the way. “We found these opera boxes [on the sides of the stage] that were walled in for 30 years. And then we found old sound equipment from the 70s. They had bricked up right around it,” he recalls. “They were tombs. I’m glad no one fell asleep in there.”
Other treasures: a 1970s-era copier just hanging out in the front ticket office (which is now functional) and a projector room unused in more than 30 years since the New Daisy’s days as a an actual movie theater. Read more about the New Daisy in the 80s-90s-2000s here.
If you haven’t yet been inside the new Daisy for a concert, you’ll notice upon walking into the lobby that everything has been polished, cleaned, resurfaced, or replaced. “When local people come in here…well, the idea that it’s been renovated doesn’t really cut it,” Elizabeth told me.
She brought up something I’ve heard from multiple times. “The change is so dramatic. Especially the women’s bathroom,” she said. “I was never in the men’s, but the women’s…they were the worst bathrooms in Memphis.” And that’s saying something, y’all.
Despite the real or overstated enthusiasm for the new ladies rooms, there’s a lot more to discover at the New Daisy.
Step into the venue itself, and you’ll find not one halfhearted bar, but three fully equipped bars, tastefully illuminated with custom light fixtures from a local artist. There are snazzy VIP areas with lounge-y couches that you can reserve on the New Daisy website. A new dance floor sits in front of the new stage, and jumbo chandeliers hang from the ceiling.
While the shiny new seating, gleaming bars, and fun fixtures are the immediately visible improvements, it’s the actual music and performance quality that Steve and his team focused on when ushering in the next era of the New Daisy.
“The light and sound systems renovations are extensive. The issue is that the building didn’t have anything for so long, it became known as the building that didn’t have anything. So agents looking to book here think, ‘they have no lights, they have nothing’,” he explains. “So we had to go to the extreme.”
The custom-designed trusses support the state-of-the-art sound and light system have footings that go six feet in the ground. Read more in this CA article.
That’s not all. In terms of backstage improvements, the venue now has offices and previously-nonexistent comfy dressing rooms for artists (including one with a pretty sweet shower). The shuttered rooms upstairs have been reborn, too. Like the Big Star VIP room:
I’d heard about the Big Star room, which overlooks Beale on the south side of the building. Ardent Records donated much of the memorabilia that adorns the walls in the VIP room, which you can also reserve on the New Daisy website.
View of FedExForum and the Old Daisy, from the Big Star room:
I had not heard of the projector room VIP space (below) which I kind of loved.
Me, exploring the projector room:
If you’re wondering what kind of bands perform at the New Daisy on Beale, a quick glance at the last year’s events show all kinds of genres – everything from acoustic to alternative to the electronic dance music (EDM) shows to metal to funk, and plenty in between.
The aforementioned fancy sound and light systems led Steve to start up the Daisyland DJ/EDM series on Saturday nights, too. How Daisyland works:
– It’s a membership program, and all you have to do is sign up with your email address.
– Signing up puts you on a guest list.
– If you’re on the guest list, you can get in to Daisyland’s awesome DJ shows for free (ladies) or $10 (dudes).
– Regular tickets to Daisyland are $20 – $30.
– Once the guest list is closed (around 12:30 a.m. or so) everyone pays full price. Doors usually open at 10 p.m.
“It’s really simple from a business point of view,” Steve explained. “If you draw a radius around [Memphis] for 150 miles, there’s nowhere to play if you’re gonna have 1,100 people, and people like playing Memphis, they like the history. It’s one of the greatest music towns ever. So that was it. It was that simple.”
I encourage you check it out at an upcoming show for yourself. Here are a few of the artists coming through in the next few weeks/months:
The New Daisy is pretty great about keeping their shows on the I Love Memphis calendar, too. Stay tuned for some ticket giveaways here on the blog or maybe on the I Love Memphis Instagram.
Recently, the Red Ball Project stopped in Memphis, and the New Daisy was a part of the ball’s 10-day residency in our fair city.
But Wait, There’s More
Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to check out the New Daisy, let’s step back just for a second and gather some context. I started digging into the venue’s history, looking up mentions of the venue on this blog, and asking friends about their favorite memories and stories.
There was so much (really, it was like the floodgates of 80s – 90s-2000s Memphis music opened) that I decided to give all that sweet, crazy, weird history its very own post, All Your Amazing New Daisy Stories. It’s like a scrapbook in the form of a blog post, with more than fifty snippets of Memphians’ memories.
You can read a bit more about the history of the New Daisy on the Memphis Type History site. And more in this Bill Dries Daily News article. Also, dig a little deeper into the new light and sound system and the Daisyland series in this Mark Richens Commercial Appeal article.
New Daisy Theater
330 Beale Street
Memphis, Tennessee 38013