Interesting Bits|

The green room of B-Side Live (photo by Hayley Steiner)

By Jon Solomon, Westword | In early March, just before South by Southwest organizers canceled their festival over COVID-19, New Yorkers Amber Mundinger and Kevin Condon had a grim realization: Hundreds of music venues around the country were likely to be closing for good.

Mundinger, the chief operating officer of Artists Den Entertainment (the company behind the television music series Live From the Artists Den), and Condon, a photographer who’d just had a year’s worth of jobs canceled within a week, talked about how they should document the shuttering of bars, clubs and theaters. They recruited Tamara Deike, who has worked in the music industry for two decades, to help with the project. “The three of us talked about it, and we literally just kind of agreed that we were going to cover the people and places in music that were so rapidly being shut down,” Mundinger says.

Dubbing the project Bring Music Home, they started in March, shooting and interviewing in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Nashville and New York, covering roughly ten venues in each city. Since then, Bring Music Home has grown into a team of more than sixty collaborators in thirty cities who’ve documented the effects the pandemic has had on 200-plus music venues. In Colorado, local music photographer Lisa Siciliano joined the effort, shooting the Boulder Theater, the Fox Theatre, Seventh Circle Music Collective, the Oriental Theater and Local 46 (which is slated to close at the end of October) for the series.

Nearly 400 portraits, as well as interviews and histories of the venues, will be part of a podcast scheduled to roll out in November; a coffee-table book set for release in 2021 (pre-orders start in December); and a docuseries that debuts early next year.

“We feel an urgency for people to hear the stories in a deeper way,” Mundinger says. “We just want to be a small help, sharing the voices and the stories of the places.”

Bring Music Home has also partnered with artists to create unique posters for every city the book covers. Local multi-disciplinary artist Mike Graves designed the Denver print. Proceeds from the limited-edition silkscreened posters — which celebrate the spirit of each community and can be purchased through custom printers Fine Southern Gentlemen — go to support the National Independent Venue Association’s emergency relief fund. The authors will also donate some of the money from book sales to NIVA.

The cause, as they tell it, is urgent. Many music venues around the country,including 3 Kings, Live @ Jack’s and others in Denver have already closed for good. Others have shifted their business model away from concerts, while still more are waiting for government aid.

On October 6, President Donald Trump tweeted that he was breaking off stimulus relief negotiations until after the election, something that worries Chris Zacher, CEO and executive director of Levitt Pavilion and Colorado co-captain for NIVA.
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Aggie Theatre Reopening for the First Time Since March

By Jon Solomon, Westword | The Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins, which has been closed since March 13 because of the pandemic, is reopening on Saturday, October 24, with a two-night stand from electronic duo Break Science. In the weeks to come, bands including Wood Belly and Float Like a Buffalo are scheduled to take the stage; Gasoline Lollipops will wrap up this wretched year with a glorious New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day stand. COVID-19 regulations require the venue’s intimate shows to host no more than a hundred per sitting.

“We are drawing from the wealth of amazing local and regional talent for these shows, and we can’t wait to get the team back to work and bring back the artists and fans to do what they love most, creating and loving live music,” says Cheryl Ligouri, CEO of Fort Collins Entertainment, which operates the Aggie, and Z2 Entertainment, which runs the Boulder and Fox theaters in Boulder.

Tickets to the concerts, which are all 21-plus, can be bought in tables of four or eight, and Tony’s Pizza will be available for purchase. Sponsors Choice Organics and Jack Daniel’s have helped make it possible for the 650-person venue to reopen.

The venue issued a few notes regarding COVID-19:

•Please stay home if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19.
•Wearing a mask is required upon entry and at all times on venue premises, except while actively eating or drinking.
•6 foot social distancing is required from everyone outside of your ticket group. You must stay within arm’s length of your table.
•You must provide a valid phone number upon purchase for contact tracing.
•We are continually updating our healthy and safety procedures to coincide with all city, state, and CDC guidelines.
•We reserve the right to deny entry or ask attendees to leave if they are not following the guidelines we have enacted to keep everyone safe.
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For more information, visit the Aggie Theatre website: https://theaggietheatre.com/

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Oriental Theater, Risking Closure by Spring, Launches Fundraiser

By Jon Solomon, Westword | Like most independent venues, the Oriental Theater is at risk of shutting down. In August, it launched its Safe Sound Series. The string of limited-capacity shows allows ninety people, or 10 percent, into the venue at a time in order to keep it within the city and state’s COVID-19 regulations.

“The feedback from people who attend is overwhelmingly positive, and that feels great,” says Oriental co-owner Scott Happel. “Also giving artists the opportunity to play what they love and make at least some income has been rewarding. Financially, for us, it helps, but it’s not a long-term solution. It’s helped our money last longer, but it won’t keep us going until next spring.”

This has already happened but you can still help:
… the Oriental launched a fundraiser to keep its workers employed. People can become a Friend of the Oriental Theater by donating different amounts to the venue. For each donation, fans will be rewarded with tiered prizes. Levels range from $10 to $5,000. A few prizes include a sticker, pin, T-shirt, and hat for $80 and a private party at the theater with a bar tab for $2,500; donors can sponsor the lobby bar for $5,000.

Happel is holding out hope that the federal Save Our Stages and RESTART Act relief efforts for live entertainment venues will pass Congress, but COVID-19 relief efforts are in partisan gridlock.

Read the whole story here:

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A New Music Venue Is Opening in the Basement of Oskar Blues

By Jon Solomon, Westword | Although many venues have been shuttered for the past six months over COVID-19, B-Side Live is opening this Friday, October 9, in the former Black Buzzard space in the basement of Oskar Blues at 1624 Market Street.

Hayley Steiner, who paired bands with visual artists as founder of the RiNo Showcase, will act as the venue’s operator and booking manager. She says her vision for the spot is simple: “Human beings need live music, and even in a time like this, there has to be a safe place for it.”

In keeping with Colorado state guidelines and local public-health orders, capacity will be limited to fifty people inside the venue at a time. The concerts will be socially distanced, and guests will be required to sit.

“Instead of buying general admission, you can buy a table for two or a table for six, or whatever suits your party,” Steiner says. “But we’re definitely encouraging people to please buy tickets with your party, because we can’t rearrange seating arrangements.”

Steiner, who’s also been working for Larimer Lounge, Globe Hall and Lost Lake for the past three years, says bands will typically play two one-hour sets with an hour break in between.

“That second set gives them the chance to have more people see their show, and it gives them a chance to kind of get comfortable with the venue,” Steiner says. “I think for now, that’s really the best way for us to approach it.”

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he’s been the Clubs Editor since 2006.

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