By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette — Ok. So the one concert did get a little rowdy. Reports are that a middle-aged lady was standing on a chair, swinging her coat over her head. And the mostly female crowd apparently responded with enthusiasm to the five male dancers on the stage.
But, for goodness sakes — a few of those guys were from the infamous Chippendales dance troupe — and the ladies were likely just appreciating the gentlemen for their coordination and agility.
That's just the kind of rowdiness that Jim Lewis is seeking in concert goers at the newly reopened concert hall, the Icehouse on Third Street.
The Icehouse, at 512 Third St., which in the past has attracted some not so amusingly wild crowds, is taking on a whole new demeanor, according to Lewis, the former owner of the Steelhead Irish Pub and Restaurant in Lewiston.
Lewis and some of the other developers and business owners on Third Street are working together to draw more clientele to the street who are simply out to have some good, clean fun.
As such, Lewis re-opened the building recently with a new sound and light system, and the ship-shape cavernous concert hall has already hosted the Battle of the Bands for the Niagara Falls Art and Music Festival, as well as the aforementioned "Fifty Shades of Men," revue which was billed as "Niagara County's Biggest Bachelorette Party."
Lewis is booking national touring acts with a leaning toward country music, especially country because, he noted, "my wife and daughter are very big fans," but he's reaching into rock and roll and other types of acts.
The Icehouse has a rich rock and roll history, Lewis noted, including Stevie Ray Vaughn, BB King and U2, who played there on their way toward superstardom.
"They've had tons of famous acts here," he said. The place, however, has also has a reputation for inspiring rowdiness on Third Street and that's exactly the type of reputation Lewis is trying to dispel.
"We are interested in doing what's right on Third Street," he said.
Lewis is getting some support from building owner Joe Anderson, who Lewis said has been "very helpful in getting the venue up and running." He called Anderson, a developer also known as Smokin Joe, "the most entrepreneural person I have ever met."
One of the hoped for results, Lewis said, is increased activity on Third Street, which would draw more clientel to the other businesses. The other business owners seem to appreciate the new life on the street.
"It certainly is a neat venue," said Craig Avery, commenting on the Icehouse. Avery, owner of The Hub, a community networking location on nearby Main Street and owner of a Third Street building which houses apartments, a mini-mart, liquor store and Y'Vonne's Bakery and Cafe, is glad for the addition to the street. "I think it will compliment the other businesses," he said.
The reopened venue also enhances efforts by the city to revitalize all of Third Street, according to Seth Piccirillo, community development director for the city. He said the city is currently removing cement "bump outs" on the street which will provide more parking and has created other opportunities for owners. He noted that a new pizzeria and pasta restaurant will be soon opening in the location of the now-closed Lola restaurant. "When one business closes and another opens, that shows you're getting a strong business district," he said.
Performing tonight at the Icehouse is David Nail, whose single "Let it Rain" achieved gold record status. The music continues with "Drum Wars," May 14, featuring Carmine Appice of Vanilla Fudge and his brother, Viny Appice of Black Sabbath, who will go head to head in a drum battle. The month ends with American Idol heart-throb Casey James on May 24.
More information about the Icehouse is available on Facebook by searching Icehouse or visiting www.icehouseniagara.com.ICEHOUSE CONCERTS • TONIGHT: David Nall • MAY 14: Drum Wars • MAY 24: Casey James Tickets can be purchased at the door at the Icehouse, 512 Third St., at Smokin Joes at the Fashion Outlet of Niagara, 1900 Military Rd., or Smokin Joes, 2293 Saunders Settlement Rd., Sanborn; and at the Quality Inn Hotel and Suites. Tickets can also be purchased at www.icehouseniagara.com.