We’re surprised to find ourselves booked crazy-far in advance. There’s a list of open dates below, but please keep reading until you get there. And then read the part after that. It’s a lot of words but they’re important, especially for touring folks and professionals.
It should be noted that everything we host is because somebody reached out to us. Don’t wait for an invitation, it won’t come. Except when we run open-mic-style short slots, those are all-comers until the slots are filled.
Stage 33 Live is volunteer-run and single-purpose. It doesn’t piggyback on a coffeehouse, or a bar, or a restaurant, or anything. It’s this one thing. We put this project together to try to help local and regional musicians and spoken word folks find difficult-to-get ears and eyes. We also open the door to established performers if they’re into it because their participation helps lift everyone’s boats.
Our home base at 33 Bridge Street runs primarily (but not restrictively) acoustic listening events every third Sunday — one on, two off — from the last Sunday in August through the last Sunday in May. Occasionally we do loud crunchy bands, typically partnering with the What Doth Life musician’s collective on those; they also run summertime shows at the Farmers’ Exchange up the road in Windsor. What Doth Life is wicked cool, see www.whatdothlife.com and feel free to contact them directly.
Did we mention that everything is entirely run and done by volunteers?
Only your own original material is allowed. No covers. The philosophical reason for this is to celebrate creativity. The practical reason is that we simply can’t afford blanket licensing from the performing rights organizations.
We’re tiny and weird and still building awareness and a reliable audience. It’s hard. You know exactly what we’re talking about. We promote like crazy, but sometimes turnout is crap for no apparent reason — even for those with comparatively wide recognition. And we can’t offer a guarantee because we just plain don’t have the bank to back it up. For many, this is dealbreaker territory and appropriately so. While the documentation we produce can have value in helping to land shows and get asses through doors down the road, odds are that your P&L on the day will be meager, possibly even a loss. Think hard on that, please.
Despite all the red flags, the amount of interest from excellent musicians — including established touring pros — wanting to come and play (for door!) has been thrilling. We didn’t anticipate it. Consequently we over-extended ourselves, and behind the scenes things went off the rails. The logistics and fulfillment of this all-volunteer project got distressingly messy and consuming. When the creepy specter of burnout started rearing its miasmic head, there was a dawning realization that our spirit is bigger than our brains, and bigger than our bodies, and bigger than the hours in our days.
To keep ourselves sane and out of jail, and to not bring whatever good we’re doing to a premature end, our huge hearts had to be reigned in. In 2020 we’re transitioning to an every-third-Sunday format, Fall through Spring. There are currently one-offs scheduled that we’re of course honoring and honored to host.
We may occasionally deviate from the schedule for events that would be particularly good to have happen in our community. We’re painfully aware that some of you who would like to come play or present — and who we’d love to have on the stage — won’t be able to make it work within the constraints. Let’s talk anyway, even if it seems like nothing can come of it. We’re almost certainly going to end up having to say no to things that we really want to do, but we also live in a world that occasionally offers up nice surprises.
We won’t book any shows for June through the end of August; that’s our season to mix and edit the documentation for the broadcast programming. (Have we mentioned that everything is entirely run and done by volunteers? Even that part.)
The open dates below are first-come first-served, and available for local, regional, or national performers or presenters. Original material only, FCC-safe (PG), and the tenants and stakeholders of 33 Bridge Street have right of refusal as do we. Everything is recorded and filmed; there is a release to sign.
We’ll try to keep this list current as dates fill and churn:
- sun nov 24 (every 3rd sunday) Heather Pierson Acoustic Trio with Emily Lyons and Josh Maiocco
- sun dec 15 (every 3rd sunday) John Stowell & Draa Hobbs
- sun dec 22 (off-schedule one-off) Hiroya Tsukamoto
- sun jan 05 (every 3rd sunday) Owen Nied
- sat jan 11 (second saturday jan-apr) Second-Saturday Synthfest Series 2020 1 of 4 (currently accepting performers)
- sun jan 26 (every 3rd sunday) Gibson
- sat feb 08 (second saturday jan-apr) Second-Saturday Synthfest Series 2020 2 of 4 (currently accepting performers)
- sun feb 16 (every 3rd sunday) Dave Richardson and Tom Pirozzoli co-bill
- sun mar 08 (every 3rd sunday) Jenna Rice and Emily Lyons co-bill
- sat mar 14 (second saturday jan-apr) Second-Saturday Synthfest Series 2020 3 of 4 (currently accepting performers)
- sun mar 15 (special) Dan Weber and The Milkhouse Heaters co-bill
- sun mar 29 (every 3rd sunday) Kirsten Manville and Tim Foley co-bill
- sat apr 11 (second saturday jan-apr) Second-Saturday Synthfest Series 2020 4 of 4 (currently accepting performers)
- sun apr 19 (every 3rd sunday) Jay Simon
- sun may 10 (every 3rd sunday; also Mother’s Day) Piper & Carson with Jim Paradis
- sun may 31 (every 3rd sunday) Grace Morrison Trio
- xxx jun xx (none)
- xxx jul xx (none)
- xxx aug xx (none until the last sunday of august)
- sun aug 30 (last sunday of august) Linda Sussman
- sun sep 20 (every 3rd sunday) Carolann Solebello and Joe Iadanza co-bill
- sun oct 11 (every 3rd sunday) Fred Gillen Jr.
- sun nov 01 (every 3rd sunday) Diana Alvarez
- sun nov 22 (every 3rd sunday) Mark Mandeville & Raianne Richards
- sun dec 13 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun jan 03 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun jan 24 (every 3rd sunday) Doug Farrell and Volkert Volkersz
- sun feb 14 (every 3rd sunday; also Valentine’s Day) OPEN
- sun mar 07 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun mar 28 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun apr 18 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun may 09 (every 3rd sunday; also Mother’s Day) OPEN
- sun may 30 (every 3rd sunday; also the day before memorial day) (??? VT Craft Studio Tour ???) POSSIBLE ROOM CONFLICT
- xxx jun (none)
- xxx jul (none)
- xxx aug xx (none until the last sunday of august)
- sun aug 29 (last sunday of august) Savannah King
- sun sep 19 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun oct 10 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun oct 31 (every 3rd sunday; also halloween) OPEN
- sun nov 21 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun dec 12 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun jan 02 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun jan 23 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun feb 13 (every 3rd sunday; also the day before Valentine’s Day) OPEN
- sun mar 06 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun mar 27 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun apr 17 (every 3rd sunday; THIS IS EASTER) OPEN
- sun may 08 (every 3rd sunday; also Mother’s Day) OPEN
- sun may 29 (every 3rd sunday; also the day before memorial day) (??? VT Craft Studio Tour ???) POSSIBLE ROOM CONFLICT
- xxx jun (none)
- xxx jul (none)
- xxx aug xx (none until the last sunday of august)
- sun aug 28 (last sunday of august) OPEN
- sun sep 18 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun oct 09 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun oct 30 (every 3rd sunday; also the day before halloween) OPEN
- sun nov 20 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun dec 11 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun jan 01 (every 3rd sunday; also new year’s day) OPEN
- to be continued
More red flags
What’s the deal, are we trying to scare you away? Kinda, yeah, but not really. We’d love for you to come, but we also don’t want you to participate in something that turns out to be other than you expected. Being brutally forthright protects both you and us.
We’re a listening room with no kitchen or bar, and we can’t do BYOB. That’s either a blessing or a curse; we choose to accept it as a blessing.
We most closely resemble a sort of souped-up house concert, but in a makeshift space in an old factory turned creative economy incubator that also has the studios of fine arts and crafts people. The building’s artist-stakeholders and owners have right of refusal of all performers and dates. Everything is subject to their prior approval.
Everything has to be FCC-safe and original copyright-owned material. Exception to the latter is made for Public Domain and Fair Use, but proof and onus is on the performer or presenter.
Everyone who performs or presents is recorded and filmed. We have an intimidating release form, but have no intention of using it to screw over anybody, ever. It’s meant to cover everyone’s butts — yours and ours — by spelling out everything as completely as possible (even stuff that’s almost certainly never going to happen in a million years).
We’ll be using the documentation to create a broadcast variety performance program that we’re hoping will ultimately get picked up by the regional public radio and TV networks. Segments, songs, and sometimes full sets will also be posted online.
We’re not a professional studio. We believe that decent documentation of a great performance is better than great documentation of a decent performance. Energy beats polish, but polish is good too. If you’re looking to make a world-class studio recording rather than documenting a live performance, we recommend Guilford Sound or Owl Sounds. Verdant Studio is winding down and we’re not sure if they’re booking time.
We document without much interference — but we want everyone to shine, so we may stage-mom just a little. No stress. Come prepared, but have fun. It’s supposed to be enjoyable and rewarding and fulfilling.
Performers can use the audio and video we produce in any way they see fit, including monetizing it. Our main purpose is the documentation… but the energy of a live audience is a good thing. We work hard to make that part happen, but the room is too often more sparse than we’d like.
On the flip side of that, we’ll try to accommodate closed-set requests. Touring musicians, for instance, may be contractually restricted from additional public performances if they’re playing a concert nearby, but may want to pop in and document a few songs. There are about as many advantages to not having people in the room as vice versa.
Want to play under a pseudonym? We’re down with shenanigans and can keep a secret.
Informative and/or entertaining presentations, comedy, recitations or readings are all on the table in addition to music. Humanities and science topics are always super-welcome along with artful words. We can also accommodate sit-down panels of up to seven people — six plus a moderator. The recorded programming will be presented downstream in audio-only formats as well as video; the material can have a visual component, but it also needs to work without. We don’t have a projector or screen. You’re better than Powerpoint anyway.
We have 40 folding chairs, plus standing room. The fire rating for standing capacity is, like, 200, but that would be just plain gross. If we ever had occasion to, we’d want to cut things off at 80. Maybe 100.
We promote the public tapings of the listening events hard, but turnout is often disheartening. We keep harping on that but it’s important. We say the following without negativity or judgement: Part of the difficulty is that the immediate community is a one-square-mile rural village of 3,000 with a poverty rate of over 25% and a commensurately low level of education; going out, let alone to listening rooms, simply isn’t part of the lifestyle. We’re trying to change that, wish us luck.
We like to think that the rough edges, restrictions, and pitfalls complement the glory and guts of the project. Not everyone agrees and that’s OK.
Working professionals, even amateurs, deserve to get paid and should expect it. We hope to get paid for our work one day ourselves. Play-for-exposure is demeaning and belittling… and yet, at least for the time being, a large part of what we do is just that. The documentation can have real value down the road to land gigs where people actually show up, but it doesn’t put gas in the tank today.
We offer established and touring acts 100% of the door, but can’t give a financial guarantee because we don’t have anything to back it up. Our hope is that one day we’ll be able to offer guarantees for professionals, and at least stipend every up-and-comer, but that day isn’t here yet.
There’s no apparent rhyme or reason to what clicks and what doesn’t. Although we’ve had people travel in for shows from at least five states, our best turnout so far has been just over 50. The worst has been two shows, tied, with three. Brutal. Even though our main purpose is documenting performance, we’d much rather have more people in the room than fewer.
Weekend folk and Americana generally has the best attendance. So far it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s evening or matinee. Most of our shows are 7:00 PM starts.
We have a just-OK mic locker and everything normally needed for sound reinforcement. You can bring your own mic(s) if you wish, your own DI(s), anything that helps you feel comfortable. The room isn’t friendly to condenser mics for house sound unless they have crackerjack rejection. We have wedges but we don’t set them up if you don’t need them because not running them helps keep mic bleed down for the recording. We don’t have a backline. We don’t have proper stage lights yet either, and are using basic white flood lamps; the room is daylit during daylight hours.
We normally characterize entry cost as a donation for admission, and find that a specific suggested minimum amount — “more if you can”— generally exceeds the suggested minimum by a bit at the end of the night. We rely on performer guidance in setting the cover to try to meet their reasonable expectations. These have ranged from pay-what-you-can to $20 for a co-bill, with the average door ask suggested by established acts being $10. If the artist wants us to state that nobody will be turned away for lack of funds, we happily will. We’re also fine with a strict flat price, or an age-tiered structure.
All merch sales and any other ways you can monetize are also yours. We take no cut of anything, but won’t refuse a freewill donation to help keep the project going.
We’ll say this yet again: The public is enthusiastically encouraged to attend the listening event/tapings, and we try hard to get them through the door, but the bottom line is that it’s about getting the best documentation we can get of you doing your thing. Success comes in more than one guise, and at its own pace.
We generally make our own posters, but are happy to put up supplied posters. Large venue-sized ones tend to get quickly covered up or pulled down from the public bulletin boards. Our venue address doesn’t receive snail mail; we found out the hard way that the PO will return it undelivered. The admin address for surface mail is “attn Stage 33 Live, 8-A Atkinson St, Bellows Falls VT 05101”.
We established the Stage 33 Live Touring Musician Host Network to help connect touring musicians who come to play Stage 33 Live with volunteer home-hosts willing to provide a quiet bed in a safe, clean place. If we go forward with a show and this seems like something you want in on, let us know. We can’t guarantee anything though.
A short Stage 33 Live edited-media crash course for anybody interested
The produced, edited episodes of Stage 33 Live exist in a wiggly world where diverse content collides and gets squished into a broadcast clock that conforms to the needs of radio and television. This means that long-form spoken word almost always has to be excerpted, and music sets are almost always cut into individual songs. (The advantage of this, however, is that one performance or presentation can get spread out over multiple episodes for better exposure.)
We also post less thoroughly groomed footage to the web.
It will take an agonizingly long time before a recorded segment is released in a produced broadcast program. The turnaround for web-posted segments is typically faster, but we can’t make any guarantees. (We’re all volunteers at Stage 33 Live, doing our best.) Consequently, Stage 33 Live isn’t a good option for promoting a specific upcoming concert or appearance, and the material should be evergreen.
The broadcast clock
We used the phrase Broadcast Clock. PRX, a distributor of radio content, explains it like this: “A clock is a template that stations and networks use to program on-air: when to start and end a show, where to place breaks for local announcements and underwriting, when newscasts should be inserted, etc.”
Our clock is super-simple compared to some, but strict because it has to be. Ours has an optional billboard and three content segments. Broadcasters can insert news, weather, station IDs, commercials, their own underwriting acknowledgements, or whatever they need to between segments.
Each produced show is 55:00 (a one-minute billboard and three 18-minute segments). Our segments need to accommodate our opening and closing sequences; item intros and outros; our own underwriter acknowledgements; and other bits. This means that the maximum length of a single edited presentation or performance for broadcast will be maybe 16 minutes.
So what about doing a podcast?
We totally plan to. But we can reach a way bigger audience on broadcast outlets. As podcasting continues to explode, media consumer behavior analysts are finding that the amount of time people spend listening to podcasts is going down, even while the number of podcasts they retrieve is going up. Podcast listeners are channel-surfing.
So why are radio and TV producers increasingly podcasting their broadcast content? Because despite the long odds and extra effort, doing all the things is the smart thing to do. It lets people time-shift to suit their own schedules and whims… and there’s that teensy chance of something going viral.
What all this means
It boils down to there being between about 13 to 16 minutes per broadcast part for stage-generated content. Each final produced segment will probably have more than one presenter or performer.
Music sets will normally be edited into individual songs, and not all of them will be used in the broadcast programs.
Spoken word presenters should expect that only an excerpt of their material will be in the broadcast program, even if the material is shorter than 16 minutes.
That said, full presentations and performances will normally be posted to the web either as a single file or cut into multiple files, in addition to the subsequent broadcast edits.