Management of the House of Blues, having just opened its fourth location with a Chicago branch, is vehemently denying reports circulating via music industry Internet sites that the music club-restaurant chain is about to close its New Orleans outlet due to financial problems.

"That is so far from true," says Mike Grozier, general manager of the New Orleans club. "We've been doing great here and we're gearing up for a huge '97."

The French Quarter club has been a popular site for local and touring rock, blues and jazz acts. But it has also been a controversial presence, criticized, along with Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood locales, for what some see as a commercialization of the historic district. The House of Blues, with its other branches in West Hollywood and Cambridge, Mass., has also been snubbed by locals as a "manufactured" club that has siphoned off acts and patrons from such Crescent City fixtures as Tipitina's.

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