It’s a Listening Room

A listening room. A room to listen in. Not a coffeehouse, bar, club, or restaurant. It’s all about honoring the stage. That one thing.

Imagine a state-of-the-art, million-dollar performance center. Got a picture of it in your mind’s eye? That’s not us. By comparison, we’re busted Tinker Toys and a few Lincoln Logs held together with a shoestring and some gum.

That may sound pretty folksy, and it is.

We’re a welcoming, casual, scrappy little nonprofit stage in an industrial-rustic former factory with 40 folding chairs, run by chipper upstart volunteers in a big-hearted but fiscally challenged one-square-mile rural Vermont village. We don’t have a bar or a kitchen, though do put out weird self-serve snacks and non-alcoholic drinks by donation. We aren’t fancy. We’re real and we operate on a human scale.

And yet (somehow) our boots-on-the-ground core team and advisors collectively bring a couple hundred years’ worth of experience in audio and video recording and production, event production and promotion, media distribution, artist relations, and other relevant experience and knowledge to the project. Did we mention that it’s entirely run and done by volunteers? It’s a mystery how such an improbable thing coalesced here in the sticks.

a secret room where amazing things happen

We open the door to local, regional, and national performers and presenters, recording and filming them in the act in front of an intimate live audience for a radio/TV/internet program we’re working up — the homegrown love child of Tiny Desk Concerts, Ted Talks, Science Friday, and The Midnight Special, infused with the naive enthusiasm The Little Rascals. (Hey kids, let’s put on a show!) Amateurs and professionals are equally welcome. Only original material written and owned by the performers is allowed.

The room has defined itself as mostly an acoustic folk/Americana singer-songwriter place, but we run jazz, pop, spoken word, rock, and more too. We typically partner with What Doth Life (www.whatdothlife.com) for punkity-loud shows, often during summer up at the Farmers Exchange building in Windsor.

If you’d like to come to a listening event (hopefully your first of many), see the “Audience” page for a quick rundown of what to expect. Best way to know when things are happening is to sign up for the email newsletter.

33 Bridge St

It should be noted that everything we host is because somebody reached out to us — if you’re a performer, don’t wait for an invitation. It won’t come. Go look at that “Performers & Presenters” page for a whole lot of brutally honest exposition that you need to consider — especially if you’re a touring pro — and then get in touch if you’re still into it.

vintage radio program

33 Bridge Street in Bellows Falls is an ADA-compliant creative economy incubator, locally owned and operated by The Island Corporation. The building also has the studios of a couple glassblowers, a couple painters, a photographer, a soapmaker, and other fine artists and craftspeople. Fragrance allergy note: a little scent may waft if the small-batch, cold-process artisan soapmaker is in production. It’s pleasant for most of us, but we did receive a comment from an MCS sufferer that they had a minor, manageable reaction.

The stakeholders of 33 Bridge Street (namely the tenants and building owners) have right of refusal of any performer or presenter or date, above and beyond us, which is totally fair.

We’re an independent, unaffiliated, unfunded, local nonprofit powered by the best parts of post-industrial small-town rural New England come-together and can-do Yankee bootstrap ingenuity and hard work. We’re inspired by talented, creative people. We put this project together to help local and regional musicians and spoken word folks find difficult-to-get ears and eyes. We also open our arms to bigger fish because their participation helps lift everyone’s boats. They put some reflected gravy on our home fries.

In addition to providing entertainment and education to both the live and downstream audiences (and hopefully inspiring them in pursuing their own creative and intellectual passions), we aim to boost local pride by shining a light on our performing and academic communities… and in the process show a wide audience that Bellows Falls and the wider mid-Connecticut River Valley is an embracing and engaging destination for art and intellect.

vintage recording equipment

For the time being we rely entirely on donations to cover the costs of existing and improving. We don’t want to be one of those organizations that relies forever and entirely on largesse and philanthropy, but for now that’s how it is. When the documentation becomes widely available on regional broadcast outlets, underwriting will become a pragmatic decision for businesses and foundations to make.

We believe that what we’re doing is important and worthy. If you think what we’re doing is important and worthy too, we’ll be so grateful for your support.

Freewill donations can be made online via PayPal (you don’t need a PayPal account).

Or cash or checks payable to “Stage 33 Live” can be dropped off at any Stage 33 Live event, or checks mailed to our administrative address: Stage 33 Live; 8-A Atkinson St; Bellows Falls VT 05101.

Stage 33 Live Ltd’s nonprofit EIN is 82-2349941.

Bellows Falls on the map

While Bellows Falls is rich in culture and nature (we love this place), it has the lowest per capita and median household income of any incorporated village in southern Vermont, and a poverty rate topping 25% — yet the locals have rallied to support this project by supporting the physical and technical infrastructure, providing experience-based advice, volunteering time and muscle, and more.

We hope to eventually be able to provide at least one paid position in our community.