When a fire destroyed downtown venue O’Cayz Corral on New Year’s Day of 2001, owner Cathy Dethmers knew she was not ready to be done running a music venue. Three years later, she founded what would become the High Noon Saloon. She had a clear idea of what she wanted for the venue — a western theme and design similar to the style of O’Cayz, which had been an important rock club for many Madison show-goers.
“I was trying to sort of resurrect that place. … I think a lot of people in town who loved that place wanted to see that, too,” Dethmers said.
Situated just off the Capitol on the east side of Madison, the iconic Trademark Building now accommodates not only the High Noon Saloon, but The Brass Ring and Brink Lounge as well. Dethmers appreciates her location, as well as the neighboring businesses.
“It seems to work out well, all the businesses working together, ” she said. “Particularly with the Brass Ring. We’re complementary, not competitive.”
When Dethmers first opened the High Noon Saloon, the Trademark Building had been home to a junk shop for many years and was off the map in terms of Madison nightlife. However, the publicity gained from the fire at O’Cayz helped Dethmers to get the business up and running, and she had no problem drawing in a crowd. Over the years, however, the High Noon has evolved from being a successful venue to being remarkably diverse as well.
“I think when we first opened I didn’t really understand how versatile it could be, so now we’re doing a lot more of those more unusual events than we used to when we first opened,” Dethmers said.
The diversity of the acts at the High Noon Saloon has become one of the things that most sets it apart as a venue. Featuring everything from kids shows and vaudeville acts to hip hop and punk rock, the High Noon has branched out to reach almost every demographic, welcoming all of Madison’s subcultures. Often, they will have something for everyone in the span of just one week. In fact, the High Noon often features two to three shows per day. Dethmers also stated that the High Noon Saloon has hosted around 70 weddings to date.
“Because we do all different kinds of events and styles of music, we don’t have the same people in here every single day, so it always stays really interesting and fresh that way. Always meeting new people and just having a different scene in here every night. It’s fun. I think it’s fun for the staff, too,” said Dethmers.
Another thing that sets the High Noon Saloon apart is a weekly event called “Rockstar Gomeroke,” which they have hosted since first opening eight years ago. The event is the only regular happening at the theater. It allows people to get on stage and sing with The Gomers, a local rock band. Over the years, Rockstar Gomeroke has drawn in other musical artists as well.
“It’s really fun. … It’s just a really unique thing for people to get up and sing with the band. It’s the kind of thing that, because we do it so regularly, we’ll often get bigger name bands that are playing at a bigger place than here, like at the Coliseum or the Barrymore, might stop in and sing,” Dethmers said, recalling how the cast of the Broadway show Wicked joined them for Gomeroke one night.
Dethmers also values the fact that the High Noon Saloon isn’t just a venue — it’s a full-time bar and hangout spot.
“Besides the fact that we have lots of events happening all throughout the day … we’re also just open. We have happy hour and just kind of a neighborhood type scene that happens prior to whenever shows are going on,” she said.
Kind of like a Harry Potter-esque Room of Requirement, the High Noon Saloon will do its best to accommodate. Whether visitors want to relax at happy hour, take little ones to a children’s music show or rock out with friends, the High Noon has you covered.