A classic venue comes to Silver Spring

Since its opening in 1965, The Fillmore in San Francisco has hosted the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, Elton John, The Who and Aretha Franklin.

Named for its original location at the intersection of Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard, the venue was born amidst the evolution of American rock and roll.

The Fillmore carried its iconic status in the music world throughout the 70s and 80s and opened a second location, Fillmore West, also in San Francisco.

The legendary music brand will gain an East Coast feel Thursday when the seventh venue in the Fillmore family opens in Silver Spring, Md.

“Each venue aims to be specific to its region, but yet it brings the tradition of the original Fillmore with it,” Anne Mullins, a spokesperson for The Fillmore Silver Spring, said.

The interior of the concert hall will maintain the eclectic style of the original, which gained notoriety in the mid-1960s for it’s connection to the riotous counter culture and mesmerizing psychedelic music. It will include red velvet drapes, chandeliers suspended 40 feet from the ceiling, wood floors and a hand-painted mural by the entrance.

The spacious venue can host 2,000 guests and will also include a barrel of complimentary apples, a tradition started by The Fillmore’s first owner, Bill Graham.

“The main goal is for people to have as great of an experience as possible,” Mullins said. “Everyone from the production manager to the guys putting hard work into the construction really put in a lot of effort to achieving that.”

Bruce Lee, president of Lee Development Group, said the group began planning 10 years ago for a music hall to be built at the Fillmore’s present location on Colesville Road.

Forty shows are already booked through the beginning of December with a sold-out inaugural performance by R&B maven Mary J. Blige at 7 p.m.

“Who would’ve thought Blondie and Cheap Trick and so many others would be coming to downtown Silver Spring?” Lee said. “We’re now on the map, and more importantly, it adds to arts and entertainment that is already here.”

Hoping to draw more attention to the growing arts community of the greater D.C. area, Lee said the development group is using two acres behind the Fillmore to build a 189-room Marriott.

“With the ability to expand on some potential V.I.P. functions, it’ll help broaden opportunities. When you think about why this is good for Silver Spring, it’s a real win-win for everything that’s been put in place already,” Lee said.

Suzan Jenkins, CEO of the Montgomery County Arts Council, said The Fillmore will add to the up-and-coming arts community of Silver Spring. The theater is moving into a neighborhood already teeming with creative outlets – the AFI Silver Theatre and Round House Theatre are across the street from The Fillmore’s new location.

“We hope as a result, people will frequent the differing kinds of organizations we offer, and all of that will be great for economic development,” Jenkins said. “We are extremely enthusiastic and looking forward to welcoming our new neighbors at The Fillmore.”

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