The Marx Brothers performed at the historic Lincoln Theatre in downtown Belleville. So did alt-country band Uncle Tupelo, which formed in Belleville in the 1980s. And now a new concert series at the theater kicks off with 1970s rock group The Edgar Winter Band on Sunday night.
Concerts at the Lincoln Theatre would be another facet to the downtown Belleville entertainment scene that features large street festivals, restaurants and bars.
“We’ll have major touring groups come and stop by the Lincoln to play in our intimate venue, which means you’re not going to be a thousand feet away from the artist,” said Dave Schoenborn, co-owner of the Lincoln Theatre.
The theater now has 540 seats in the concert hall.
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“We’re going back to our roots, from our 1921 heritage of being a vaudeville house, we’re going back to doing live theater along with our first-run Hollywood movies so right now we’re starting a concert series,” Schoenborn said.
Schoenborn and his wife, Sandy, recently obtained their local and state liquor licenses so a full bar will be available during concerts and then beer and wine will be sold during movies. On concert nights, the Lincoln will not schedule movies.
Another historic theater in the metro-east, the Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville, has been offering concerts in recent years.
Al Canal, the general manager of the Wildey, said “most of them have been going great. We’ve been selling out a lot of shows.”
For example, Arlo Guthrie is scheduled to play the Wildey on Nov. 9-10 and both shows are already sold out. Other upcoming shows include Rogers & Niehaus on Nov. 17, Poco on Nov. 23-24, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils with a show on Dec. 28 and two shows on Dec. 29, and Head East on Jan. 25-26.
Canal said he hopes the Lincoln concerts do well.
“The more we can make people aware that the metro-east is a great place for entertainment, the better it is for everybody,” Canal said.
The Wildey, which first opened in 1909, is now owned by the city of Edwardsville and had a major renovation after being closed for two decades. It has 326 seats and everyone is within 52 feet of the first row.
Canal said area businesses see a bump in volume on nights the Wildey has concerts.
For example, he said area hotels get additional guests because some concert-goers travel three to five hours to Edwardsville to see a show.
“The restaurants and bars around us totally love that we’re here because any night we have a show, they are full before the shows, the restaurants are, and the bars are full after a show,” Canal said.
Edgar Winter hits
Just three days before Halloween, Winter is expected to play the band’s big hit “Frankenstein” at the Lincoln Theatre.
The band also is known for their popular song “Free Ride.”
Winter, 71, plays multiple instruments. According to his website, he invented the portable keyboard that allowed him to attach a keyboard to a shoulder strap so he could freely move around on stage and still play the keyboard.
Winter is scheduled to play a show in Albuquerque, N.M., the night before the Belleville concert.
A Doors tribute band will open the show at 6:30 p.m. and there will be a Halloween costume contest at 7:30 p.m.
The Schwag, a Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia tribute band, is booked to play the Lincoln Theatre on Nov. 30.
Schoenborn said other live acts scheduled to play the Lincoln early next year include the Masterworks Chorale and Old Salt Union, which had a sold-out show last April.
The Lincoln, which is at 103 E. Main St., is contacting other touring bands to play at the theater but Schoenborn said he did not have information to release yet on those shows.