We’re surprised to find ourselves booked full through the end of the year. There’s a list of open dates below, but please keep reading until you get there. It’s a lot of words but they’re important and they may change your mind about playing here.
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 and nothing more (though there’s a lot of lead-up and follow-through bundled into every show). 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.
Did we mention that it’s entirely run and done by volunteers?
Only your own original material is allowed for public performance. 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.)
The main thing you need to know as a performer or presenter is that we’re tiny and new and still trying to build awareness and a reliable audience. We promote like crazy, but sometimes turnout is utter crap — 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 established professionals, this is dealbreaker territory and appropriately so. While the documentation we produce can have value for all levels of performers to help land shows and get asses through doors down the road, odds are that your P&L on the day will be anywhere from meager to a loss. Think hard on that one, please.
Even with that being the case, the amount of interest from excellent musicians — including established touring pros — wanting to come and play in support of what we’re trying to do has been thrilling. We never anticipated it… and consequently we had no plan for the sudden influx of wonderful attention. Behind the scenes, things went off the rails. We over-extended ourselves. The logistics, and especially the 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.
We’ve had to reign in our huge hearts a bit — a bit — to keep ourselves sane and out of jail, and to not bring whatever good we’re doing to a premature end. This necessity has spawned an every-third-Sunday format, Fall through Spring. (There are currently one-offs scheduled through November 2019 that we’re of course honoring and honored to host.) Going forward, we won’t book any shows for June through the end of August — we need time to mix and edit the documentation, and assemble the broadcast programs. (Have we mentioned that everything is entirely run and done by volunteers? Even that part.) Plus there’s no AC in the performance room and it can get real swampy in there.
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 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. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll try to keep this list current as dates fill and churn:
- xxx jun xx (none, in theory)
- sun jun 16 (off-schedule one-off) Grant Peeples with Ezra Veitch
- fri jun 21 (off-schedule one-off) The End Of America with Izzy Heltai
- xxx jul xx (none, in theory)
- mon jul 15 (off-schedule one-off) Nathan Evans Fox and Jane Kramer
- sat aug 31 (off-schedule one-off) David Rosane and The Zookeepers with Owen Nied
- sun sep 08 (off-schedule one-off) Carl Goulet
- fri sep 13 (off-schedule one-off) Davey O with 6foot6
- sun sep 22 (every 3rd sunday) Lara Herscovitch with Scott MacDonald
- sat sep 28 (off-schedule one-off) Larry Allen Brown
- fri oct 04 (off-schedule one-off) Bill & Eli Perras with Billy Stahl
- sun oct 13 (every 3rd sunday) Spike Dogtooth
- sun nov 03 (every 3rd sunday) Psych Unit
- sun nov 10 (off-schedule one-off) Rupert Wates with Josh Maiocco
- sun nov 24 (every 3rd sunday) Heather Pierson Acoustic Trio
- sun dec 15 (every 3rd sunday) John Stowell & Draa Hobbs
- sun jan 05 (every 3rd sunday) Owen Nied
- sun jan 26 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun feb 16 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun mar 08 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun mar 29 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun apr 19 (every 3rd sunday) Jay Simon
- sun may 10 (every 3rd sunday; also Mother’s Day) OPEN
- 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 the month)
- sun aug 30 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun sep 20 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun oct 11 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun nov 01 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun nov 22 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
- sun dec 13 (every 3rd sunday) OPEN
A little more about us,
including 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 most closely resemble a somewhat souped-up casual house concert. Our long-term intent is to create a broadcast variety performance show that we’re hoping will ultimately get picked up by the regional public radio and TV networks. That’s our main purpose: the documentation, not the live audience — but the energy of a live audience is often a vital component for performers, especially musicians, and we work hard to make that part happen.
That said, we’ll happily try to accommodate closed-set requests on days that aren’t on the performance-dates list. 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 a number of advantages to not having people in the room.
Want to play under a pseudonym? We’re down with shenanigans and can keep a secret. (NME: “50 Mysterious Pseudonyms Adopted By Your Favourite Bands” … Sabatoge Times: “Arcade Fire, Prince And R.E.M: Ten Acts Who Worked Under Pseudonyms”)
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.
Everyone who performs is recorded and filmed. There is a release form. Stipulations are that everything has to be original material and FCC-safe. The performers can use the audio and video in any way they see fit, including monetizing it.
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 have 40 folding chairs, plus standing room.
Informative and/or entertaining presentations, comedy, recitations or readings are all on the table in addition to music. It has to be your own original, family-friendly work. 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’re a makeshift space in a former factory turned creative economy incubator that also has the studios of a couple glassblowers, a couple painters, a photographer, a soapmaker, and other fine arts and crafts people. All performers and proposed dates are cleared with the building’s artist-stakeholders, who have right of refusal. We have bumped up against classes or open studios that we didn’t realize that they already had on the schedule.
We’re not a club or bar or cafe or restaurant, or a full-time well-heeled performance or arts center with paid staff. No liquor license, no kitchen. We put out bad snacks and soda with a snack donation jar in the hope of covering snack costs.
We’re not a professional studio either, but we do our best. We believe that decent documentation of a great performance is better than great documentation of a decent performance. Energy beats polish every time… but polish is good too. If you’re looking to make a world-class studio recording rather than documenting a live performance, we recommend the excellent folks at Guilford Sound.
We document without much interference — but we want everyone to shine, so we may stage-mom just a little sometimes. No stress. It’s supposed to be enjoyable and rewarding and fulfilling. Come prepared, but have fun.
We promote public tapings hard, but turnout is often disheartening. We know that we keep harping on that but it’s important. We say the following with absolutely no negativity or judgement: Part of the difficulty is that the immediate community is a one-square-mile rural village with a poverty rate of over 25% and a commensurately low level of education, and going to listening events simply isn’t part of the lifestyle. Especially when there isn’t a bar. We can’t serve alcohol without a licensed caterer ($$$), don’t qualify for the libraries-and-galleries wine-and-beer legal loophole, and BYOB isn’t allowed, so these are dry shows.
It’s entirely reasonable and right for working professionals to expect to get paid for giving a public performance. (We hope to get paid one day ourselves.) We loathe play-for-exposure, it’s demeaning and belittling… and yet, at least for the time being, a large 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 stipend every no-name 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 has been just over 40 — from five states, and yet barely 40 (which, coincidentally, is how many chairs we have). The worst so far were two shows, tied, with three. Even though our main purpose is documenting performance rather than servicing a live audience, we’d much rather have people in the room.
Weekend folk and Americana generally has the best attendance. Doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s evening or matinee.
We characterize entry cost as a donation for admission, and find that a specific suggested minimum donation amount, “more if you can — 100% goes to the performer(s)” generally exceeds the suggested minimum by the end of the night. We rely on performer guidance in setting the suggested minimum door donation amount 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 again: The public is enthusiastically encouraged to attend the listening event/tapings, and we try really 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 and then getting that out in the world rather than servicing an audience. Success comes in more than one guise.
We like to think that the rough edges, restrictions, and pitfalls complement the glory and guts of the thing. Not everyone agrees and that’s OK.
We generally make our own posters, but are happy to put up supplied posters. A few go far in these dinky villages. Note that large venue-sized posters tend to get quickly covered up or pulled down from the public bulletin boards. We make black-and-white 8.5x11s, but something different can set a show apart as special. We can do both things. Our venue address doesn’t receive snail mail, 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 have a just-OK mic locker and everything normally needed for sound reinforcement. Performers can bring their own mic(s) if they wish, their own DIs, even their own PA if that’s more comfortable — though if we’re not using the house PA there needs to be extra set-up time to get recording splits. The room bounces back to the stage a fair bit and is not particularly friendly to condenser mics for house sound, especially when they don’t have good rear rejection. We have wedges but prefer to not use them if you don’t need them.
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 anyway.
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.
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 potential.)
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 mentioned something called a 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 contains 55 total minutes of content (a one-minute billboard and three 18-minute segments). Our segments need to accommodate our opening and closing sequences; our own sponsor and underwriter acknowledgements; and other bits that support each presentation, performance, or the program generally. This means that the maximum length of an edited presentation or performance for broadcast will be maybe 16 minutes.
What this means for you
All of that boils down to there being between about 13 to 16 minutes per broadcast segment 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.
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.