MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - It's a stunner for a lot of Memphis music fans. The famous Hi-Tone Café in midtown is closing its doors.
The Hi-Tone has a lot of history, hosting many famous acts. But, booking costs and building problems played a big parting the demise of the Hi-Tone and local music experts said national touring groups consider Memphis a “C” market.
However, for fifteen years the Hi-Tone has created fans, memories and really good music.
Superstars like Elvis Costello have played the Hi-Tone, a venue which has hosted every type of music imaginable.
“There are a lot of memories tied to the Hi-Tone,” said Zac Ives, “it’s a great venue; a great location and it was a really cool room.”
Ives is the co-owner of Goner Records in midtown and the promoter of the Gonerfest music festival.
Years ago the Hi-Tone was famous for being the dojo for Elvis Presley, then it became one of the premier club sites in the Bluff City. At the end of February it’s closing its doors forever.
“It is really sad, actually,” said Hi-Tone customer Alex Ford, “I’ve come here a lot the last few years, been to a lot of good shows.”
Hi-Tone owner Jonathan Kiersky declined to comment to abc24.com; he’ll continue to promote concerts at other venues. That’s not good enough for fans of the Hi-Tone.
“It wouldn’t be the same,” Ford said.
Part of the Hi-Tone’s problem became attracting nationally-known artists.
“We have a great music scene here,” said Pat Mitchell-Worley, “but as far as touring artists go, they want to see the numbers.”
Mitchell-Worley is the communications director for the Memphis Music Association.
The demise of the Hi-Tone will create ripple effects; it was the main venue for “Gonerfest”—the Goner Records annual music festival.
“We loved being at the Hi-Tone,” said Ives, “it’s perfect for what we do. And it is going to be a little bit weird not being there.”
That will also be weird for Hi-Tone regulars.
“It’s a big hit,” said Mitchell-Worley, “it’s definitely a big hit.”
“This is it,” said Hi-Tone customer Matthew Turner, “the best Memphis venue—bar none. There is just so much heart here.”
February 28th is the last scheduled day of business at the Hi-Tone. But, apparently not everybody will be sad to see it go.
A Facebook page has been created entitled: I hate the Hi-Tone. You can’t please everybody.