With its star-spangled marquee and movie-house lineage, the Granada has been a Lawrence staple for more than three-quarters of a century. Today, two decades into its life as a music venue, it's a destination for such indie darlings as Best Coast and such punk-rock heavyweights as Rancid. For a place that has seen a lot of history, the Granada has adjusted to the times remarkably well.
That hasn't been without the savvy vision of Mike Logan, who became the owner of the retro-cool space in 2003. Since then, he has worked to continue the transformation of the Granada into one of the area's leading live-music stages. September 17-30, the Granada celebrates both 80 years in business and 20 years as a home of concerts.
The Pitch: You're running the celebration September 17-30. Tell me about the lineup and activities you have planned.
What are some of your favorite music shows that have run through the Granada?
Logan: We've packed the calendar, really. We're also doing three free events to kind of celebrate; the first is next Friday with Stoney Larue. Then, on September 26, we're gonna screen The Goonies on an inflatable screen outside the Granada, and it'll be absolutely free, a bring-your-own-chair thing. It looks pretty cool. That night inside the theater, we've got a very cool band called Apache Relay, and that's a very cool show as well. That's the third free show we've got going on.
Also, every day throughout the month via our social-media channels - Facebook, Instragram, Twitter - we're gonna be putting info out. We have historic pieces from the Granada, old show posters from 1933 up until the late '80s, different marquee pictures form the past, and different stories and quotes from people who have been connected to the Granada throughout the years. We're gonna be doing mini-interviews with some of those people and throwing those out on the web as well.
Oh, wow... OK. ... The Mars Volta. Broken Social Scene. the Killers. Snow Patrol. The Urge did a reunion show in 2003, which was amazing...
The Granada was revamped 20 years ago, back in 1993, with a renewed focus on live music acts. How have you seen the Granada's role in Lawrence change?
You know, since I've owned it, the Granada has been primarily a live-music venue. When I bought it back in 2003, there was this focus on it being a dance club - Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights were huge dance nights. I really wanted to have the live music be a central focus. We're really blessed in Lawrence to have five music venues that somehow or another stay open, and I feel lucky that we can be part of that.
What are some changes you've made at the Granada?
In 2009, we shut down and redid all the bars and rehabilitated the restrooms, and then last spring we managed to stay open while we added a balcony and revamped the bathrooms. We've been concentrating on customer experience. Moreover, as we've grown, we've really tried to pay attention to what people are saying. We're constantly trying to improve the experience. I'm a constant tinkerer, so I'm always doing something in the building.
What do you think the focus is going to be for the Granada in the coming years?
We're going to continue to try to attract high-level talent... . I can't tell you off the top of my head how many Grammy winners have played our center, but it's a large number. We also book the acts at the top - they're gonna play the Granada, and then they're gonna hit radio and play stadiums. It's unique to have so many different levels of bands.
I also think Granada's gonna be very involved in the conversation with producing events outside of our four walls. We see a lot of people who travel from Kansas City or Omaha and other places, and so I think our next step is to grow that popularity outside our venue.
In the decade you've spent at the Granada, what is one thing you are most proud of achieving?
I think the diversity of our calendar. I mean, if you hop on the website and scroll down 15 shows, there's eight different genres of music. You can go on a Tuesday night and there's a country show, and there's 300 cowboy hats lined up, and the next night there's a metal show, and then the next night there's an indie show... . You'd see some very distinct audiences. I think it keeps me and my staff energized, because we're always getting new people and new audiences.
For the full event list, see the Granada's calendar.