OMG do we ever need to put this page on a diet.
We’re surprised to find ourselves booking into 2021, with all dates on our regular 2020 schedule filled. 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. When we run open-mic-style short sets or songwriters’ circles, though, those are all-comers by RSVP 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. Our intention is to help local and regional musicians and spoken word folks find difficult-to-get ears and eyes, but we also open our door to established performers because their participation helps lift everyone’s boats.
The project has defined itself primarily (but not entirely) as an acoustic listening room.
Our regular schedule is one show every three Sundays (one on, two off) from the last Sunday in August through the last Sunday in May, with occasional deviations. 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 that work, which is regrettable. But we live in a world that occasionally offers up unexpected surprises, so feel free to give us a shout anyway.
We totally over-extended ourselves for a spell, caught up in a surge of interest that we never anticipated by fantastic performers wanting to come play. The logistics and fulfillment got distressing and consuming. We’re still trying to catch up. The creepy specter of burnout reared its miasmic head, and with it 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 sane and out of jail, and to not bring whatever good we’re doing to a premature end, we had to reign ourselves in. Did we mention that everything is entirely run and done by volunteers?
Only your own original, copyright-owned material is allowed. No covers. The philosophical reason is to celebrate original creativity. The practical reason is that we just plain don’t have the money for licensing from the performing rights organizations.
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 pros and touring folks, this is dealbreaker territory and appropriately so. While the documentation we (eventually) 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.
We don’t book shows from 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 media release to sign.
(We’ve been trying to distill everything pertinent to performances as best we can into a Performance Agreement; this is only a draft, and it includes a clause or two that aren’t yet implemented. But you can look at for reference.)
We’ll try to keep this list current as dates fill and churn:
- sun may 31 (every 3rd sunday) Grace Morrison Trio POSTPONED DUE TO THAT NASTY COVID-19
- 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) Hiroya Tsukamoto (MATINEE)
- sun jan 03 (every 3rd sunday) Jenna Rice
- 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) Dan Weber and The Milkhouse Heaters
- sun mar 28 (every 3rd sunday) Ben Carr
- sun apr 18 (every 3rd sunday) Dan & Faith
- sun may 09 (every 3rd sunday; also Mother’s Day) Decatur Creek
- sun may 30 (every 3rd sunday; also the day before memorial day) POSSIBLE ROOM CONFLICT: VT Craft Studio Tour
- 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) POSSIBLE ROOM CONFLICT: VT Craft Studio Tour
- 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. Some of these are repeats with clarifying bits, and some are new.
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, or Verdant Studio while you still can (it’s for sale, if you want to buy it.)
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 recently acquired a projector and a huge screen, but you’re better than Powerpoint.
We have 40 folding chairs, plus standing room. If the need ever arises we will cut off entry at 65 to preserve intimacy.
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 this without negativity or judgement: The immediate community is a one-square-mile rural village of 3,000 with a poverty rate of over 25% and an unusually low education level. The wealth, education, and leisure gaps are wide. Going out to listening rooms that don’t have a bar or kitchen simply isn’t part of the lifestyle for most here. We’re trying to change that, wish us luck. In the meantime, the majority of attendees come in from other places — at one memorable show, there were people from five states.
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, part of what we do is exactly 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. Our best turnout so far has been just about 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. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s evening or matinee. Most of our shows are 7:00 PM starts.
We have an OKish mic locker and everything normally needed for sound reinforcement. You can bring your own mics if you wish, your own DIs, 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 have colored stage floods, but the room is daylit during daylight hours.
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. The average door ask for touring artists is $10 advance, $15 door. 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 flat price, age-tiered, or other structure.
All merch sales are also yours; we can provide a well lit table near the stage (but no staff).
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; the PO will return it undelivered. The admin address for surface mail is “Stage 33 Live (admin), 8A 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 as soon as possible. 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.