Eddie Owen, founder of Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, told the Decatur Metro this week that he is leaving as manager of the popular club to manage a theater in Duluth, according to an article in Decatur Metro. The name of the theater wasn’t mentioned, but Duluth officials have been meeting for several months with an undisclosed “major figure in the music industry” about taking over management of the underutilized Red Clay Theatre on Main Street. It apparently isn’t a done deal yet, however.
Owen appeared at a Duluth City Council work session during the summer to introduce himself to the mayor and council and briefly outline a plan to establish a music venue at the theater in historic downtown Duluth that would include stage concerts, classes taught by musicians, and possibly a recording studio. The Red Clay Theatre would be kept constantly busy, Owen told the council. The agenda for Duluth’s City Council 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10, meeting lists an item for Red Clay Theatre management proposals.
New Dawn Theater Company across the street has submitted a proposal to use the Red Clay Theatre. Also, a team of four local drama professionals had submitted a proposal last spring to use the Red Clay Theatre for dramatic productions and acting classes, but withdrew it because the city council disagreed on the future use and direction of the theatre. This proposal may still be under consideration by the council.
Duluth Economic Development Development Manager Chris McGahee would not comment other than to say that the decision was up to the council. McGahee would not confirm that Owen is the “person of interest” he has been meeting with about the Red Clay Theatre.
The city owns the Red Clay Theatre building, part of which was demolished due to damage caused by heavy rains and flooding in the fall of 2009. The end of the building is temporarily sealed in. The Duluth Downtown Development Authority has put plans to restore and renovate the theatre on hold because its use would affect the design. The Red Clay Theatre’s lobby and stage were not damaged, so it is still being used. Various groups have been booking the theatre for plays, concerts, comedy shows, and special events.
Owen and Eddie’s Attic, which he opened in 1992, have been credited with launching the careers of the Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins, John Mayer, Sugarland, and the Zack Brown Band. Over the years, Owen has developed a reputation of being able to recognize and nurture talent.
In March 2002 Owen sold Eddie’s Attic to Todd Van Sickle, the then husband of Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles. The club was then sold to Bob Ephlin, the current owner, in June 2005. Owen continued as general manager with duties of finding and booking musical artists. Ephlin is expected to handle bookings temporarily at Eddie’s Attic upon Owen’s departure, Decatur Metro reported.