Capshaw folds Starr Hill, buys into Satellite

Music mogul Coran Capshaw is bringing his international reach and the promise of "marquee national artists" to the Corner by partnering with the owners of the Satellite Ballroom and closing his nearby Starr Hill Music Hall and Restaurant.

This means that Capshaw, who manages the Dave Matthews Band and has sizeable interests in Bonnaroo and LiveNation has now acquired a musical trifecta on the local scene because he now controls a small, medium, and large venue.

Satellite Ballroom is the small (500 people for a standing event, 350 seated); the under-renovation Jefferson Theater is the medium (just under 1,000); and his opened-in-2005 Charlottesville Pavilion is the large (at about 3,500 seat-and-lawn capacity).

This range of venue sizes means that Capshaw can lessen his reliance on the approximately 1,000-seat Paramount and keep all his bookings under his own roofs, with the exception of extremely large shows which remain the province of the John Paul Jones Arena.

An employee of Starr Hill tells the Hook that staff of Starr Hill– the eight-year-old West Main Street venue which has hosted the likes of They Might Be Giants, Soulive, and Chris Daughtry– received word of the closure about a week ago. A press release issued last night confirms that the July 7 concert featuring local rock band Navel will be the last.

Although Starr Hill brought in musical stars, the approximately 450-person-capacity upstairs location atop a pair of stairways often raised eyebrows among safety-conscious patrons. By contrast, the Satellite Ballroom occupies a ground floor location behind Michael's Bistro in what had once been part of Charlottesville's long-operating Anderson Brothers Bookstore. Hook columnists had issued varying opinions on the Ballroom over the years, including lauding its December 2004 opening and seeking better sound.

"Performances brought to the Satellite Ballroom will benefit from the venue's location near UVA as well as its larger capacity," says the release from Capshaw's organization. "The promoters expect to make significant upgrades to the Satellite Ballroom's production capabilities over the summer.

"Our staff is delighted to be joining forces with Starr Hill's team," said Satellite Ballroom booker Danny Shea.

Unaffected in all this is the beer bearing Starr Hill's name, as the award-winning brewing operation moved west in 2005 to the former ConAgra food processing plant in Crozet.

The employee with whom the Hook spoke says that Starr Hill, which opened in the fall of 1999, has been sold to become– of all things (given that it's located across the street from Wild Wing Cafe) a sports bar, although no such confirming announcement has been made.

Three already-announced July Starr Hill shows– Souls of Mischief, Israel Vibration, and Ben Kweller– have already been relocated to the Satellite Ballroom. The Navel farewell show has as its openers Book of Job and the Eli Cook Band.

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9 comments

YES IT IS SAD THAT STARR HILL IS CLOSING. THAT'S THE ONLY PLACE IN TOWN WITH THE MOST DEVERSIVIDE CROW. AND THE SOUND SYSTEM BY FAR IS BETTER THAN SATELLITEBALLROOM HOWERVER THE SOUND MAN IS DEFINETLY RESPOSIBLE CUEING THINGS UP AND ANYONE WHO WANTS A GOOD SOUND SYSTEM FOR A SHOW SHOULD CHECK OUT MY SYSTEM. WWW.MYSPACE.COM/MECCAAUDIOSOUNDREINFORCEMENT .........THE MOST OFFICIAL SOUND SYSTEM IN TOWN

I'll miss Starr Hill - as a music venue it definitely didn't suck. The sound quality ranged from good to extremely good, depending on the act and the person behind the sound board.

The Hot Tuna show there last year was one of the best shows I've ever seen anywhere. That was one amazing performance.

However I have to echo concerns about the safety of the place, especially the floor. I remember one New Year's Eve the place was packed for Skip Castro, and when Bo started jumping up and down EVERYBODY started jumping up and down. The floor was bouncing like crazy and it was the only time I've ever experienced true fear at a rock show.

But I definitely won't miss the restaurant - I only ate there a few times because it did nothing for me. It was a rather pretentious menu for a restaurant that shared space with a beer-drenched bar and music hall.

satellite ballroom's acoustics sound horrible, and i hate to say, that being closer to UVA will make it less desirable...

Hopefully they will bring the Starr Hill soundsystem and soundmen over the Satellite to replace the jokers there... and possibly do something to get that High School cafeteria aesthetic renovated.

RIP STARR HILL

I can't help but agree with Tito, though I know BJ did his best to make shows sound good, the shape of the room was too odd to let shows sound good there.

I'm excited to see The Jefferson open. There are bands that are a little too big for Starr Hill, but too small for the Pavilion that I think would be well served by the new venue.

seriously folks, you are implying that Starr Hill sounded good.
really? Starr hill isn't an "odd shaped" room?
that room was horrible. At least Satellite was a DIY operation & was at least a better experience than going upstairs to hippie heaven.
creative booking at satellite.

I was trying to say that they are both oddly shaped rooms (BJ was one of the guys working the sound system at Starr Hill), but I posted a little too hastily.

since coran sweats money, i'm sure he'll be able to afford a decent sound system in the SB. personally, i hope they start booking acts there that more than three people have heard of. and i hardly thing hordes of drunk, scantly-clad uva co-eds would make anyplace "less desirable", provided the music is loud enough to drown out their incessant woo-wooing.

Indeed, Starr Hill had the potential to sound pretty awful, but if the band cooperated (by keeping their stage volume reasonable) and the sound guy had a clue (meaning he/she either was one of the SH regulars, or he/she consulted one of the SH regulars) it could sound quite good.

Any club - ANY club has the potential to sound very bad if the band and sound people don't get it. Lon Tate gets it. Chris Munson gets it. Arthur Arico gets it. Pete Katz gets it. Not all sound guys are created equal, and not all sound guys have the authority to get the band to listen to them.