Music News & Reviews

Palms Playhouse fate uncertain with possible sale of Winters Opera House

The building housing the beloved live music venue the Palms Playhouse is up for sale, casting uncertainty on the theater’s future.

Winters City Manager John W. Donlevy Jr. said prospective buyers were looking at purchasing the Winters Opera House building from Charles Wallace, the publisher of the Winters Express newspaper.

Donlevy said he didn’t know the identity of the prospective buyers, nor what their plans were for the building or the tenancy of the Palms Playhouse. But he said he welcomed the sale and hoped the playhouse continues as a tenant.

“The sale of the real estate is a reflection of our downtown – that it’s revitalizing,” Donlevy said. “We have a brand-new hotel that is being built in the core and the idea that people would want to make a real estate investment in Winters is a logical progression.”

The theater’s rent for the second floor of the Winters Opera House building had been subsidized at about $15,000 a year, but the subsidies stopped 18 months ago, Donlevy said.

Donlevy said the Palms was a major draw for the 72-room boutique hotel being constructed on Railroad Avenue by Royal Guest Hotels of Davis.

Palms owner Dave Fleming said in an interview that closure may be one of many long-term options for the music theater, which hosted countless bands for 27 years in a barnlike space in Davis before moving to Winters in 2002.

Rumors about the Palms’ closure took off Thursday after frequent Palms performer Dave Alvin posted on Facebook that he heard Fleming was closing the 220-seat venue known for its offerings of bluegrass, blues and Americana music.

Fleming said any consideration he may have for closing the venue would be for “personal reasons.”

“I’m going to do my January shows and then there are some financial things I have to deal with to keep making this work,” he said.

He didn’t specify what financial matters were pending and didn’t mention the possible sale of the building.

“There are age issues in the kind of music that I do,” said Fleming, 57. “Many of the Palms’ audience is older than I am. They do not go out as often – and that’s a nationwide concern.”

Edward Ortiz: 916-321-1071, @edwardortiz