was there last night, when the giant new signage atop the Magic Bag was first officially lit up. After mingling and enjoying beverages for a short bit, a few dozen people were directed to go to the end of the block along Woodward to watch while the thing was dramatically plugged in, and then lit up.
Where the old Magic Bag's sign was visible from a few blocks away, now the ginormous and colorful deal is viewable from a handful of blocks away, at least. The new sign itself is close to three stories tall. Its presence really adds to the feeling that you're in the middle of a vibrant, exciting scene. It represents a real investment by the owners and management in not just their own venue, but the community itself.
Clearly, a lot of time, effort and funds wet into this thing. We're glad we could be present for its unveiling; this has been such an important venue in the metropolitan area for close to 20 years now. In Mike Pfeifer's excellent photos, I see how it says 'Ferndale' so nicely across the base of the sign; somehow, I'd missed that myself last night.
The press release follows:
The custom designed marquee sign mirrors the aesthetic of old theatres and advertising signs that lined Woodward Avenue in years past. Every city in every neighborhood; every town across the US at one time or another had a theater at the hub of their town, providing news & entertainment. With a nod to the days and generations before, The Magic Bag has kept that spirit of community by adding the city’s name to their marquee sign, furthering the landmark with an eye towards the future of Ferndale.
The Magic Bag has been the centerpiece for Ferndale’s entertainment scene since the early 1920’s when it originally opened as the Ferndale Theatre. The theatre screened feature films, newsreels, and animated specials. Patrons would spend their entire afternoons catching up on the current events and movies. In 1961, the theatre became Studio North, changing its focus to independent films. The theatre screened art house and foreign films that weren’t being shown anywhere else and attracted moviegoers from all over the Metro Detroit area. In 1976, Studio North switched to a more risqué adult format and was eventually shutdown. Purchased by Jeremy Haberman in 1996, the Magic Bag was named and renovated, improving the overall atmosphere and creating a better concert experience.
The first artist to play the club was Junior Wells in April of 1996. Since then, the Magic Bag has hosted the likes of The Whites Stripes, The Black Keys, Leon Russell, Fitz & The Tantrums, Kid Rock, Amy Schumer, Marc Maron, Jeffrey Ross, Gov’t Mule, Saint Motel, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings… the list goes on and on. Haberman, who is credited in building the theatre into a local and nationally known music and comedy venue it is today, passed away from lung cancer in December of 2014. Keeping his vision intact, the new ownership group has done a series of renovations. With upgrades to the sound production, stage lights, and other cosmetic styling, the Magic Bag has enriched the concert experience for a second time, and will continue their renovations to create the best live entertainment venue in Metro Detroit.