Once upon a time in Madison at a place called O’Cayz Corral, local bands shared the stage with the likes of Nirvana, The White Stripes and Soundgarden. With the opening of the High Noon Saloon Wednesday, that time has returned.

The O’Cayz Corral caught fire early in the morning Jan. 1, 2001. The fire traveled from a bar next door, and it burned O’Cayz to the ground, ending its 20-year contribution to the Madison music scene.

Owner Cathy Dethmers and other employees were closing down the bar as the fire began, although no one was hurt.

After searching for a new location for the past three years, Dethmers has finally found one for the newly named High Noon Saloon at 701 East Washington Ave. in the old Buy and Sell Shop building.

Patrons who used to attend shows at O’Cayz Corral, such as Ald. Austin King, Dist. 8, are excited for the replacement.

“I’m thrilled about it,” King said. “I was devastated when O’Cayz burned to the ground on New Years Eve.”

Dethmers was not the original owner of O’Cayz Corral. When O’Cayz Corral went up for sale in 1994, Dethmers knew this was her calling. When it burned to the ground in 2001, she did not want her dream to end.

“I worked at O’Cayz Corral as a bartender in college, and I always loved live music,” she said.

King said Dethmers’ years of hard work have definitely paid off. A lot of people have been rooting for Dethmer and the success of High Noon Saloon.

“I feel like it will fill an important niche in the Madison arts scene,” King said.

The High Noon Saloon will offer live music seven nights a week from national acts all the way to local bands. In addition to the music entertainment, the saloon offers pool tables, dartboards and other games, like pinball machines.

Even though construction is still continuing on the outside of the bar, the inside is a different environment. With its western feel, down to horseshoes above the bar, the High Noon Saloon has a distinctive atmosphere.

“When I took over, it had that kind of look,” Dethmers said. “I liked the weirdness of a western theme bar that was really rock ‘n’ roll.”

Under the High Noon Saloon title, the rock ‘n’ roll aspect of the bar is apparent with the slogan “Live Music and Cold Beer.”

The grand opening Wednesday began with live music from The Bottle Rockets and The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash. Glass Nickel Pizza, High Noon’s trademark dish, was served, and the bar was crowded with orders ranging from hard alcohol to cold beer.

High Noon Saloon is open until all hours of the night. They close at 2:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 a.m. during the week.

To find out who is playing at the High Noon Saloon or to find out how local bands can set up a gig, check out High Noon Saloon’s website at www.high-noon.com.

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