You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Mar 19, 2010 : 5:46 a.m.

Ypsilanti's Club Divine reinvents itself as live-music venue called Savoy

By Jenn McKee

Spring is a time of change, so perhaps it’s only fitting that Ypsilanti’s Club Divine dance club, at 23 North Washington, has reinvented itself as Savoy, a new live music venue with a 700-person (standing) capacity.

Club Divine’s owner, Dave Curtis, still stands at the helm of Savoy, and the space is making a slow transition into its new identity, doing minor cosmetic renovations while staying open and welcoming live music acts on weekends.

“In Washtenaw County, there just are not a lot of choices for bands right now,” said Savoy talent buyer Don Sicheneder. “Generally, Michigan is not a destination state. Bands that are touring the country don’t need to stop through Michigan, and so many skip it altogether, especially ones that don't want to play Detroit or Pontiac. But we thought we could offer a unique opportunity for bands to play here in Washtenaw County in an intimate setting.”

Savoy thus aims to provide a live music alternative to sit-down venues like the Michigan Theater and The Ark, and to smaller local venues like the Blind Pig.

This past Saturday, Savoy had a “soft opening,” featuring Tokyo Sexwhale, October Babies and Dragon Wagon. About 250 people attended the show, and Sicheneder and Curtis got an early glimpse of the Savoy’s future as a live music venue. This Saturday, genre-crossing local band Rootstand is slated to play at 9 p.m.; cover is $5.

“As with any change, the biggest thing is changing the mentality — not only of the employees, but of the city and the surrounding area as well,” said Sicheneder. “It’s not a dance venue anymore, and some people were still acting as though it’s a dance club and instead of a live music venue. So there are certain things we’ll be working on. … But like anything, there will be training involved, and that will take some time, including changing the mindset of community.”

One change involves dropping Club Divine’s strict dress code. Physical renovations to the site, meanwhile, include establishing a full stage, new lighting and sound systems, painting, replacement of fixtures, and floor work.

“We want to make it welcoming,” said Sicheneder. “Not only to audiences, the people who come to hear music, but the bands who come through here, too.”

Sicheneder noted that he’s currently working on getting a nationally known act to play the Savoy in the next month, but you shouldn’t necessarily be looking for a grand opening. As far as Sicheneder’s concerned, the Savoy is already on its way and open for business.

“The overall goal is to bring regional and national acts through and have local bands open for them,” said Sicheneder. “I’m committed to local music here, but I also want to bring in national talent, to expose them to people in the area, but also show them that there are great things going on here, too.”

Here's a video with highlights of Savoy's opening show this past Saturday, featuring Dragon Wagon, Tokyo Sexwhale and October Babies:

Jenn McKee is the entertainment digital journalist for Reach her at or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.



Sun, Mar 21, 2010 : 12:45 a.m.

Dave Curtis, Ypsilanti should be proud to have you as an interested business partner in the city. Congrats on Club Divine's "next phase."


Sat, Mar 20, 2010 : 11:14 a.m.

On any given night you can see shows at The Elbow Room, The Keystone Underground, The Tap Room, and the Savoy in Downtown Ypsi, and at the Scream'n Eagle on West Cross near EMU. And if its DJ's and Electronic Music you are after, check out Friday's Panic Room Party at Celebrations (Cady's) in Depot Town. We've got it all. For instance, on Monday nights at the Elbow Room you can see guitar virtuoso Laith Al-Saadi team up with the Macpodz bass virtuoso Brenan Andes and one of Michigan's top drummers, Mark Damian, and it's free. A big stage, a great PA, cool room, great drink prices and service and an amazing band. And that's on a Monday. Let's not forget, the weekly Crossroads Music Festival on Washington Street will start up soon, bringing a free live show to downtown every Friday. This year's Roots Jamboree will be August 6 & 7 and is to boast a stellar regional line up in Riverside, with camping in Frog Island. Custom motorcycle/coffee shop Cafe Racer will host their first Ton-Up Music and Motorcycle Festival, and I hear the people at Crossroads have a larger festival event planned for the summer as well. It's getting to the point where we'll need BTB to run a bus from A2 over here at night, once everyone starts to catch on. Of course, any AATA bus headed to Ypsi will deposit you into downtown for the early shows.. To get a glimpse of the music you've been missing, click the link below:

David Briegel

Sat, Mar 20, 2010 : 7:34 a.m.


Charlie Naebeck

Fri, Mar 19, 2010 : 3:35 p.m.

agreed with the first post of Go Dave Curtis! I've been around the music scene for over 15 years now in one capacity or another and have seen many faces and places come and go. Its refreshing to have a new venue to push un-discovered talent out there especially for rock acts. The Blind Pig has even diversified to some degree over the years with many different styles which is cool caus real live music is real live music, but there is certainly a void of choices that is just waiting to be filled to create a better scene.


Fri, Mar 19, 2010 : 2:34 p.m.

I am not knocking DJs. I am knocking people who advertise that they have hired DJs and really it's a guy up there with an Ipod playing other peoples' songs... and a bar owner was able to pay the guy one-fourth of what he would pay a band. There are plenty of "Let's get drunk and party" people that could enjoy live music one night, a DJ the next and might dress up to attend a symphony the next weekend. Real, EMF-style DJs deserve a place up there with the bands, but I hate that there are few places in this area to see a good rock band. A guy with an IPod... not the same at all. I am happy to see an opportunity to see some real rock bands and maybe get a choice. At this point the only places to see waning or upcoming national acts are The Ark, which seems to focus on folk, world, bluegrass, etc., the Blind Pig to a certain extent, and then otherwise you have to go all the way to Ferndale, Royal Oak or Detroit. Mostly I am trying to support all of the various varieties of music... I could have mentioned something about how people seem to see bluegrass and folk as artistic but not rock... but I didn't. Maybe I shouldn't have phrased it that way. I didn't mean to say that real techno music is not artistic or does not have its place. The point is that I am happy to see a new venue offer possibilities to the artists and the patrons in this area. Anyway, this is Ypsi which seems to be moving to the forefront of more cutting edge entertainment. This is one step toward building a "scene." I just think it's been absent for quite a few years now.

Anonymous Commentor

Fri, Mar 19, 2010 : 10:37 a.m.

This is great news! I'll watch for more shows at this venue :)


Fri, Mar 19, 2010 : 9:27 a.m.

mrk, I've come to understand that for the most part "support the arts" type people don't really frequent the same "let's get drunk and party" places that DJs play at. Don't knock the DJs just because it isn't your scene.


Fri, Mar 19, 2010 : 7:01 a.m.

I hope they get the publicity right and this is a success. As an Ann Arbor resident I wish there were more live music venues in Ann Arbor, especially of this size... this might just attract me to hang out in Ypsi. I think it's a move in the right direction, as long as they don't fill it with mediocre DJs all the time (I'm looking at you, Ann Arbor). Support the arts... which includes live (rock) music as many tend to forget.


Fri, Mar 19, 2010 : 6:26 a.m.

Go Dave Curtis! You continue to be the STRONG force in Downtown Ypsilanti. While many others close shop and run, you continue to invest and believe in Downtown Ypsilanti. Folks, if live music or nightlife isn't your thing, try a great and reasonably priced lunch and/or dinner with some amazing drinks at Pub 13 next door. Or step one more door south at Washington and Michigan and try J Neils for some great stir fry...or downstairs on the corner at KeyStone for a martini and some relaxing vibes. Mr Curtis deserves support as he continues to invest in the city. We need this local investment! City Council take note! Locals like Dave Curtis and taking chances and are helping rebuild Ypsilanti on their own. Burger King doesn't bring people downtown, but good service, good food, and good entertainment does. Work toward bringing people downtown, not on a short-sighted effort to make a few bucks to cover the Water Street fiasco. Think of the future of Downtown Ypsilanti. See you at Savoy!