Ken Morris, the most recent owner of Antero Hall at Eck’s Saloon, took ownership of the nearly forty-year-old establishment from its last owner in 2018, and has been trying to bring it back ever since.
“Eck's has been around forever, and it’s been on a string of bad luck over the last decade or so,” Morris says. “Through a twist of fate, I came to be the latest owner. I’ve been pretty much fixing up the place the last sixteen months or so, and we’ve been struggling.”
The live venue has been around since 1981 and was formerly known as Eck’s Saloon before it closed in 2015 and reopened as the Silver Spur Saloon, and has since been renamed Antero Hall at Eck's Saloon. During its run, the venue has seen ’80s hair bands like Skid Row, Winger and Dokken grace its stage. In the 1990s, metal acts like Powerman 5000 and Drowning Pool took over the lineup. In the 2000s, bands like Sick Puppies and Superjoint Ritual took the mantle.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Edgar Winter and Five Finger Death Punch have all played the space, and “that’s why I want to keep it around," adds Morris, who spent years running sound at the venue before signing the lease in August 2018.
He says he's had issues with the liquor license and hasn’t been able to serve alcohol for about two months. The building was also in a state of disrepair, so it’s been one headache after another. Most recently, he has been working to get the kitchen up to code, so he can get the liquor license issue resolved.
“I had to pawn my mixing board to get money for materials to finish the kitchen,” he says. “Fortunately, a friend is letting me use his spare for the time being. It was truly a simple decision. No kitchen equals no liquor license. No license equals no need for a mixer.”
With that in mind, Morris says that beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday and continuing through noon on Sunday, Antero Hall is going to host a 24-hour-a-day fundraising drive. That will include live music and art, karaoke, a swap meet, open mics, DJ sets, a drum clinic and a silent auction, among other activities and events. He has also set up a GoFundMe page for anyone who wants to make a donation. As of Tuesday morning, it had raised a little less than $800 of a $20,000 goal.
“We are going to be spending four days reintroducing the place to the community,” he says. “With any luck, we will raise what we need to get caught up.”
The space garnered brief controversy last year, when Morris canceled a scheduled metal festival after allegations arose that some of the participating bands had Nazi ties. Morris says that in the past, the venue has also had a reputation as a biker bar, and later as a hard-rock bar. It was briefly named the Silver Spur Saloon, which gave the incorrect impression that it was a country-and-Western joint. Morris changed the name to Antero Hall at Eck’s Saloon when he took over ownership in August 2018 to break with the past.
He wants people to come out and see the space for themselves. He describes the venue as a local landmark, but he says that the building's owner has decreed that if the current business fails, it will no longer be used as a live-music venue.
“If I’m not successful, the building will close and everyone loses,” he says. “It’s not only wonderful and important to me; it’s important to the community, and the music community in general. … Its history is wonderful, and I want to see it be what it was.”
SOS ~ Save Our Stage runs 24/7 from January 16 at 6 p.m. to January 20 at 12 p.m. at Antero Hall at Eck’s Saloon, 9890 West Girton Drive in Lakewood. The event is free, and donations will be accepted at the door. For more information, go to the event's Facebook page.