Savvy Houstonians Susan and Sanford Criner are no strangers to live music. The couple opened Rockefeller’s nightclub as part of an inner-city real estate renovation in 1979, so it’s no surprise they are the hosts of Music With Friends, an exclusive new club that organizes marquee musical performances for its members.
“Music With Friends is a way for us to recreate the magic of Rockefeller’s, presenting big acts in an intimate venue,” says Susan Criner, who’s also the owner of Gulf Coast Entertainment. Founded by Larry Farber in Charlotte, MWF now operates in four cities: Houston follows Charlotte, Charleston and Nashville.
Membership offers three annual performances by world-renowned artists, plus pre- and post-event cocktails. “Other MWF clubs have had acts such as Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Diana Ross, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt and Sheryl Crow, but the beauty of the club is that each city’s members get to give their input on which acts they want to see, through an artist poll,” Criner explains.
Though the first show is not until the fall and the talent is yet to be determined, she says memberships are selling quickly—limited only by the seating available in the Hobby Center’s Zilkha Hall (800 Bagby Street). “It’s an acoustic jewel box that accommodates 500 people,” Criner says. “There’s not a bad seat in the house!”