When indie-rocker-turned-superstar Jack White took the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium stage on June 2—complete with archival video of Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter projected on the walls behind him—anyone with any appreciation of music history could feel the energy in the air. This sold-out concert was one of the first events held in the newly renovated Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, or “the Municipal,” as locals call it, since the building closed for renovations in February 2013. Sixteen months and $6 million in renovations later, the Municipal was rockin’ once again, and it was rockin’ hard.
Opened in 1929, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a National Historic Landmark due to its connections to the influential Louisiana Hayride radio program and the early days of rock ‘n’ roll. Elvis Presley, who made his broadcast performance debut onstage at the Municipal on Oct. 16, 1954, is one of the legendary performers with an enduring connection to the building. Other notable performers who have crossed this historic stage include Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Kitty Wells and Jimi Hendrix. Recently, a wave of interest in haunted history has made the Municipal one of the best-known haunted buildings in the South, and it has been investigated by SyFy’s Ghost Hunters and Discovery Channel’s Ghost Lab.
If you love live music, you will be glad to know that history is still being written at the Municipal. Jack White’s concert kicked open the doors to this legendary building, and upcoming performances are announced on a regular basis on the Municipal’s website and at SBFunGuide.com. Upcoming live music shows include neo-soul singer Maxwell, who’ll bring his Summer Soulstice tour to Shreveport Friday, Aug. 15, and the 2014 James Burton International Guitar Festival, coming Aug. 23.
Given the building’s historic nature, lots of people have asked about the renovations. As someone who appreciates the need to preserve historic buildings, I am pleased to report that the updates to the Municipal were gentle, necessary fixes. The building is now ADA compliant, for example, and the lobbies are now climate controlled. New, larger concessions stands make for a more enjoyable experience and—perhaps most notably—comfortable new seats have been installed. One very important element of the building, however, remains just as it was: the stage. The only thing that is changing about it is the growing list of legends (and legends-in-the-making) gracing it.