Tupelo ready to shine brighter light on entertainment

Union Leader Correspondent
February 16. 2017 1:53PM

DERRY - With its doors opening March 18, Tupelo Music Hall is nearing completion of its new Derry venue and soon will be ready for performances by Peter Frampton, Melissa Etheridge, Dave Davies of The Kinks and other popular acts.

The expanded venue is replacing the Londonderry location, which has been showcasing world-renowned musicians for more than an decade. The new hall in Derry, formerly home to a health club, will entertain 700 guests, compared to the old venue's 200.

Owner Scott Hayward promises a unusual layout that will cater to all types of crowds. The main floor in front of the stage will seat patrons who want the front row experience. The section can be configured for rows of chairs or separate tables, depending on the performance, Howard said.

“If you are back here and I got the Beach Boys on stage, nobody is going to get you closer,” Hayward said.

Behind the traditional seating area, Tupelo Music Hall will have a raised section of 210 theater style seats. Howard said this section will be for people who want to enjoy the musicians in a more comfortable seat.

“We can have a rock show and older people like me can sit back here and enjoy our beer, and younger people like you can stand up in the front and I can still see over your head,” said Hayward, 49.

Hayward said the project is on target for its $2.6 million budget, even with a decision to replace the building's old HVAC system. The renovation was financed through Enterprise Bank, the Small Business Administration and the Regional Economic Development Center in Raymond.

While ticket prices will still average around $42, Tupelo will collect additional revenue through the sale of alcohol. At the old location, guests who wanted to drink beer or wine had to bring their own. At the new Derry location, a bar is being installed so guests can pick up a local brewery's products as well as popular mass-produced brands.

Jeannine Carney, who owned a restaurant inside of the old Derry location, will now be Tupelo's official chef.

“She is getting some new toys to play with,” manager Tag Muggia said.

The menu will have a simple selection of quality bar food, Hayward said.

“We are going to have a cheeseburger, but it is going to be one of the best cheeseburgers you have ever had,” he said.

Peter Frampton will be headlining the April 11 grand opening show, which has already sold out. Between working on the new venue and continuing to operate the current one, Hayward figures he's been working about 95 hours a week.

“We're all about music,” he said.

Aside from equipment delivery problems, Hayward and his team are expecting the finishing touches on the venue to go smoothly.

The venue opens its doors March 18 with band Puddle of Mudd performing, but Hayward said the sold-out Peter Frampton show will be considered the grand opening.


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