Saturday, March 7, 2015

Northern Kentucky Music Scene: Hot Venues

Thompson House
By Nick Stegner

The Northern Kentucky music scene is much more than the artists who deliver us great music night after night. It is also about the venues that host them. A venue can either make an experience fantastic or horrible. Northern Kentucky is loaded with many wonderful places for musicians to share their craft. Many of these venues are rich with history. Often we enter these locations unaware of the importance that they have had in shaping our history locally AND nationally.


Facing the Ohio River from Newport is a beautiful, majestic mansion that has housed amazing local and national musical talent for decades - The Thompson House. What began as a two room log cabin, has transformed itself into one of the area’s best entertainment spots. In 1814, Richard Southgate (lawyer, politician and silk manufacturer) began turning the cabin into place to entertain people of wealth, businessmen and even future presidents. Some of those visitors included Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln and James Polk. He used British prisoners of the war of 1812 to build the home. When Southgate died the house went to his daughter, Francis. After her passing, it was left in the care of her daughter, Julia Thompson. Eventually the home was passed on to Julia’s son, Brigadier General John Thompson (who the house is named after). Thompson is credited to the invention of the “Thompson Submachine Gun” (“Tommy Gun”).

The mansion also played a part in the Underground Railroad, possibly saving countless lives and led many to freedom.

After the house was passed on to a few more descendants of the Southgates, it was purchased by the Knights of Columbus. They added the ballroom on the back of the mansion to host events, meetings and dances. Besides the ballroom, there are several rooms that performers and artists can display their talents. In 1976, after occupying the home for 60 years, the house was sold to the Raleigh family. The family renovated it into a beautiful showplace called Mom’s Opry (named after the family matriarch, Bess “Mom” Raleigh). It was a country western showplace that brought in many of the country’s famous music entertainers. With another local venue, Beverly Hills, housing Vegas caliber stars performing…Mom’s Opry was the “Beverly Hills of Country Music."  As it became known as The Southgate House, many bands, that later became international acts, performed there. The Black Keys, Arcade Fire, and the White Stripes have all performed at the Thompson House. Many have returned after hitting the big time to pay tribute to their beginnings.

In 2012 the 3rd street venue moved locations following a legal battle between the siblings who owned the mansion. The venue was renamed The Thompson House, under ownership of one sibling, and continues to offer great national and local music. The brother, Ross Raleigh, opened the Southgate House Revival located at 111 East Sixth Street in Newport. It was the location of former Grace Methodist Episcopal Church built in 1866. Ross has created a warm and wonderful venue that brings in some of music’s finest performers.

Some great local and national talent can be found on the current schedule such as the Morrow, Ohio band Blessid Union of Souls. Those who want their 'grunge' rock can check out Puddle Of Mudd. Want to fill your soul with classic bluegrass? Dr. Ralph Stanley has you covered. Mondays at 8 is 'Open Mic Comedy' in the Rock Star Lounge hosted by Jay Armstrong and free of charge. Local comedians will make the winter blues fade as they tickle your funny bone. Want to escape the frigid outdoors with the island sounds of reggae? The first Saturday of every month is Reggae Night. If you are into the supernatural, haunted tours are available between 2-4 PM and 4-6 PM to raise chills down the spine.

No matter what your taste in entertainment is, The Thompson House or The Southgate House Revival are sure to fill a need. Local and national musicians, comedians and artists take the house by storm any night of the week.
Southgate House Revival

No comments:

Post a Comment