A new owner is ready to shake things up at historic Bay St. Louis music venue 100 Men D.B.A. Hall — ghost and all.
Music will continue to be the focus of the 1922 blues hall that was a center of African-American social life and entertainment and is a stop on the Mississippi Blues Trail. Etta James, Ray Charles, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and James Brown are among the legendary artists who performed there.
Former owners Kerrie and Jesse Loyas saved it from demolition after Hurricane Katrina when they bought it in 2006, restored the building and reopened it in 2010.
New owner Rachel Dangermond said she plans to operate 100 Men Hall as a multi-purpose venue and add writer workshops, retreats and artist in residency programs. Dangermond said she also sees it as a place for pop-ups, community dialogues, youth activities, rehearsal space and as a filming location for the movie industry.
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“I’ve got a lot of friends in the movie business in New Orleans,” she said.
A Hall Warming Party is the first thing she plans, probably in the fall, Dangermond said, after the nonprofit’s board of directors meets.
“We are happy to host all events and occasions celebrating life — arrival, departure and everything in between,” Rachel Dangermond said. “I definitely see family reunions in the future,” she said, made even more special because they will take place in a unique and historic building.
“Think of our hall as a place where you can hold an elegant anniversary celebration or celebrate your nuptials with a food truck wedding,” she said. She also plans to bring a variety of music such as rockabilly, jazz and Cuban music enhanced with Cuban food.
A writer working in New Orleans, Dangermond said she was looking for a place to live and hold writers’ workshops when a friend told her about the 100 Men Hall. She immediately felt a connection.
“I write about race and parenting,” she said, “and I’m certainly a big fan of live performing.” She’s also facilitated conversations on race and equity for the Mayor’s Office in New Orleans.
Dangermond, who is white, adopted her 9-year-old black son, Constantin “Tin,” from Gary, Indiana, where she said many African-Americans from Mississippi migrated.
She was drawn to 100 Men Hall because it was a center for black music and social history, Dangermond said. It was started by 12 black men who organized in the late 1800s to provide burials and medical needs for the community. The Hall was an important stop on the historic Chitlin Circuit — performance venues where black musicians played during segregation.
Her son is helping her with the new venture and learning a business rather than playing electronics all day, she said, and she hopes to have activities that will prompt other kids to put down their games.
“I want to see families coming here,” she said.