We’ve been monitoring the websites of small listening rooms across the country, and most of them just plain have nothing scheduled from here to eternity. By contrast, large venues — both nonprofit and for-profit, but especially the for-profits — mostly appear to be doing whatever they can to do anything they can. Which ain’t much in most cases.
Our schedule has been full (with some shows booked as far as two years in advance), but they’ve been toppling one by one since the start of the pandemic — cancelled either by performer request, or by mandate from the state or our 33 Bridge Street neighbor tenants and the building owners. In all cases we’ve agreed with and supported these decisions, and expect that we won’t be having any shows until after widespread vaccine rollout.
Stage 33 Live is a welcoming, casual, scrappy but well-mannered nonprofit listening room in an industrial-rustic former factory with 40 folding chairs, run by chipper upstart adult volunteers on an island in the rural Vermont village of Bellows Falls on the Connecticut River bordering New Hampshire.
Imagine a state-of-the-art, million-dollar performance center… got it? That’s not us. We’re also not a bar, club, or restaurant. But we’re not savages either – there’s coffee, soda, water, and snacks by donation.
We’re real, we operate on a human scale, yet our boots-on-the-ground core team and advisers bring a couple hundred years’ worth of experience in this stuff to the table. How such a thing improbably coalesced here in the sticks is a mystery.
We started this for our own local and regional composing musicians and spoken word presenters of original work. Along the way, we’ve attracted the attention of a whack of performers bigger than we are who asked to come play too. Very cool.
The room has mostly defined itself as an acoustic folk/Americana singer-songwriter place, but we run jazz, pop, spoken word, rock, and more. Best way to be in the loop about what and when things are happening is to sign up for the email newsletter.
Although our listening events are intimate and informal and friendly, they’re rarely a good environment for squalling babies, ADHD kiddos, or disruptive adults. It’s all about honoring the stage. Cell phones off, pop a lozenge if you’ve got a cough, be attentive. Applaud like crazy though! Cheer a great solo, laugh loud at a good joke, or groan at a bad one. Heck, heckle in good nature if it seems appropriate. But honor the stage.
Seating is limited to 40 folding chairs – first come, first served. A dozen of them are padded, the rest aren’t. Some people bring their own chair pads. After the chairs are full, there’s standing room. It’s OK to bring your own chair, as long as you take it back home with you when you leave.
Only original material written by the performers themselves is allowed. Or public domain stuff. We host local, regional, and national professionals and amateurs alike, and we record and film them in the act 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.
We’re super far behind on the editing and cutting. We’re working on trying to get better cameras.
Everything we host is because somebody reached out to us. We don’t use a booking service, and we don’t solicit performers. The people on the stage and the people in the audience are both there because they chose to be there for each other. It’s a beautiful symbiosis.
If you’re a performer, this means that you shouldn’t wait for an invitation because it won’t come. Take a look at the “For Performers” page and then get in touch if you’re into it.