Back in March, the legendary Midwest venue, Alpine Valley Music Theatre, announced that it would be shutting its doors for the year—marking the first time the venue did not host concerts during a season since it opened in 1977. The venue in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, has played host to some of the most memorable and acclaimed Grateful Dead and Phish shows, meaning that the outdoor 27,000-person concert space holds a special place in many jam band fans’ hearts. Recently, good news arrived with an update from Jon Reens, vice president of Live Nation, the company that manages Alpine Valley, noting that the company was working hard to ensure that Alpine Valley reopens in 2018.
Built in 1977, Alpine Valley was built with the intention that it be accessible to music lovers in Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and more. However, earlier in the spring, Live Nation announced that Alpine Valley was closing this season specifically because of a lack of tour routes that traditionally pass through the area, either due to bands’ hiatuses or because acts opted to perform at other close-by venues like Wrigley Field or Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island. For example, Dave Matthews and Jimmy Buffett are two acts that traditionally play the venue, who opted out this year in lieu of other concert spaces.
As Reens told The Gazette, Live Nation is currently in the process of recruiting and booking acts for the 2018 season, noting, “Our intention is 100 percent to open in 2018.” However, Alpine Valley’s off-season may have been a blessing in disguise. Reens also noted that during the time off, the 40-year-old venue has been receiving a facelift of sorts and getting the repairs it needs to move forward in 2018.
While Reens did not disclose any specific acts that may be booked at Alpine Valley next year, The Gazette article noted that Live Nation is reaching out to both new artists who have never performed the historic venue as well as acts that have regularly graced Alpine Valley’s stage. “It’s one of those things that is kind of fluid. We don’t just go to a handful of acts and try to have them come play that building. We go out to a number of artists, some who have played there in the past. As we find artists that are available, then really we enter into discussions for them in the availability of venues,” Reens told the Gazette, then continued, “It’s dependent on whether the artists make the decision of when and where they’re going to be on the road.”
The Gazette reached out to Michael Cotter, director of the Walworth County Department of Land Use and Resource Management, who also noted that Nive Nation had submitted a 2018 business license application, the annual permit that must be renewed every year, though this may not mean much considering Live Nation submitted the same application for 2017.