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The Ritz's Stella VIP Lounge Grand Opening

By: Mark Winston

Approximately 200 guests recently attended a red carpet grand opening ceremony for The Ritz's new VIP lounge. In an interview, Live Nation's EVP of Clubs and Theatres, Michael Grozier simply radiated enthusiasm. This man is a founder of the House of Blues and is currently responsible for 18 Live Nation facilities nationwide. Grozier had nothing but accolades for Raleigh's music scene. His goal is to provide "a world class city with a world class experience." Ever respectful of The Ritzís history Michael stated, Live Nationís will simply "restore the roar and kick it up a notch."

Michael shared that back in the day, crappy bathrooms and no air conditioning was simply a part of the rock 'n' roll experience. Today, patrons expect and deserve a quality facility. Management has spared no expense. Renovations to the building include all new heating & cooling, improved bathrooms, state of the art sound / lighting, a new smoking deck, and artistic lobby installations by renowned local artists.

The brand new Stella Lounge VIP area features artwork by neon artist Nate Scheaffer (http://www.natesheaffer.com) and eglomise pictures by Louis St. Lewis. Lewis (http://louisstlewis.com). The pair of local artists did such a great job they have been retained to also upgrade The Fillmore in Charlotte and The Mercury Ballroom in Louisville. Their goal for the room was to capture the beauty and sophistication of the Stella Artois brand. To accomplish this task they combined modern imagery (Marilyn Monroe and Heath Ledger) with old world charm.

In an interview both artists related that they worked to create an engaging, lush, beautiful, and imaginative space. Red velvet drapes and carpeting bring to mind an old world glamour seen in Europe and many of America's historic theaters from the 1920ís. Both artists share a love of the inspirational and have had distinguished careers to date. St. Lewisís work can be seen a the Ogden Museum of Art as well as the New Orleans Museum of Art to name a few. Schaeffer is one of a very few glass blowers working with neon remaining in America today. He is a member of the Chatham Artists Guild.

Upcoming shows at the venue include:

Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit (8/12)
Breaking Benjamin (8/21)
Social Distortion (8/27)
Collective Soul (10/7)

For a complete rundown on their diverse lineup please visit http://www.ritzraleigh.com

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