It appears that predictions of performance spaces like Stage 33 Live not being able to reopen until sometime deep in 2021 at the earliest are increasingly likely.
In the meantime, we’ll book any available open date with the understanding that it might not be able to happen.
There’s lots of words here. They’re all important. We’d love for you to come play or present, but we also don’t want you to participate in something that turns out to be other than you expected. Being transparent and thorough protects both you and us. We like to think that the rough edges, restrictions, and pitfalls complement the glory and guts of the project. Not everyone agrees, but that’s cool.
- Available dates
- The sorts of things we book
- Set length, show time, load-in
- The room
- Stage and tech
- Everything is recorded and filmed
- Be cool, honey bunny!
What dates do you have available?
The list of open dates follows below. The remainder of 2020 has entirely fallen to COVID-19. 2021 is close to booked full; the first few months are almost certain to end up canceled.
Stage 33 Live is entirely run and done by volunteers. 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. Occasionally we’ll deviate. We’re painfully aware that this just won’t work for some who would like to get on our stage, and who we’d love to have on our stage. But we also live in a world that occasionally offers up unexpected surprises, so do give us a shout anyway.
The following open dates are first-come first-served, and available for local, regional, or national performers or presenters. We’re usually pretty good about keeping the list current as things fill and churn.
- sun nov 22 (every 3rd sunday) POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19 – Mark Mandeville & Raianne Richards
- sun dec 13 (every 3rd sunday) POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19 – Hiroya Tsukamoto
- sun dec 13 (every 3rd sunday) POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19 – Joshua Hall
- sun jan 03 (every 3rd sunday) Jenna Rice
- sun jan 24 (every 3rd sunday) POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19 – Doug Farrell and Volkert Volkersz
- sun feb 14 (every 3rd sunday; also Valentine’s Day) Owen Nied
- sun mar 07 (every 3rd sunday) Dan Weber (POSTPONED) and The Milkhouse Heaters (NOT SURE YET)
- 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) Linda Sussman
- sun oct 10 (every 3rd sunday) David Rogers with Joshua Hall
- 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) Dan Weber with The Milkhouse Heaters
- 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) Fred Gillen, Jr
- 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
If you need to cancel, 30 days is preferred though we recognize that’s not always possible, and we’ll do the same for you. In the case of horrible weather, with your input we’ll try to call it one way or the other at least 24 hours in advance. We’ll never cancel due to low presales… but we’re also never going to force anybody to play a show that they don’t think is worth playing. And nobody is liable for things beyond their control. Performers are independent contractors. We don’t demand any exclusivity or lockouts.
What sort of acts do you book?
The room has mostly defined itself as an acoustic folk/Americana singer-songwriter place, but we run jazz, pop, light-to-medium-weight rock, and more. Informative and/or entertaining original spoken word is absolutely and enthusiastically on the table too — humanities and science topics are always super-welcome along with artful words. We can also accommodate panels of up to seven people.
Only original, copyright-owned material is allowed, whether music or words. Public Domain and Fair Use is also OK, though proof and onus is on the performer. Two reasons for this: 1. to celebrate original creativity; and 2. we can’t afford licensing from the performing rights organizations… and we definitely can’t afford the hefty fines for violations — just one of those would shut us down forever. So no covers.
Additionally, all activity in the building has to be relatively family-friendly, sort of a soft R rating, per the tenants and stakeholders of 33 Bridge Street. They also have right of refusal of all performers and dates. Here are the House Rules we need to abide by, FYI. Since we record and film everything for eventual broadcast, having it all stay as FCC-safe as possible works out well anyway.
Our main intention is to help local and regional musicians and spoken word people find ears and eyes, but we also open our door to established and touring performers. Their participation helps everybody.
Everything we host is because somebody reached out to us. We don’t use a booking service, and we don’t solicit performers… don’t wait for an invitation, it’ll never come.
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.
What’s the pay?
Established headliners and touring acts play for 100% of the door, less the 11th ticket sold which we put toward promotion costs. Local openers work without pay, which is a hard pill for us to swallow — not discounting that the documentation we produce does have real value. We also welcome local openers to pass the hat, put out a tip jar, and/or sell merch; headliners are welcome to tip them but it’s not required. If a headliner brings on their own opener or co-bill, any financial arrangement is between those parties — we pay out full cash on the night to the booking party only.
In the case of solo touring headliners at least, more times than not — but not always — we meet or exceed the recommended Fair Trade minimum wage determined by the American Federation of Musicians and endorsed by the North American Traveling Musicians Union.
For open mics and short sets, there’s no payment. But we do record and film those sets too, and the performer is welcome to use the material we produce in any way they see fit.
We rely on headliner input to set the ticket pricing to meet reasonable expectations. We can’t guarantee how many people will come to any given show, but there’s seating for 40 and total entry is cut off at 60 (which has never happened yet). We were starting to see the results of cultivating a built-in audience, but COVID-19 is undoubtedly setting us back and all bets are off. By the same token, however, we don’t snub artists who aren’t a guaranteed big draw.
Shows tend to range from a low of $5 for artists who don’t have to travel far to get here, to $20 for a touring co-bill. Solo touring artists are usually $10 or $12 advance, $15 door. Prices are normally framed as “minimum donations”. We do recommend putting some price on it, even if it’s just a suggestion — in our experience, if a value isn’t put on a show, people don’t value it. We’ve never tried a pay-as-you-exit scheme, but are open to the idea.
When it seems appropriate, we set up online advance ticket sales (generally with a premium seating upsell option and optional extra donation for the artist).
We’re fine with flat price, age-tiered, or other structure that you prefer. If you want us to state that nobody will be turned away for lack of funds, we happily will.
All merch sales are also yours; we can provide a well lit table near the stage but usually no staff.
Normally we do everything on a handshake, but if you need us to sign something we will.
We’ve been trying to distill everything on our end into a Performance Agreement; it’s still just a dense draft and might always be, but you can look at for reference if you’d like. It suffers from our usual neutron-like density.
We’re a shoestring DIY nonprofit run by volunteers. We take no cuts of door or merch. Since we have no income, we’re consequently not able to offer a guarantee or deposit, meals, etc. While the documentation can have value down the road to help land gigs and open doors, it doesn’t put gas in your tank or burritos in your belly today. We firmly believe that all workers deserve to get paid for their work, and we hope to get paid for ours one day too. If you have a good show and wish to make a freewill donation to help keep the project going, we won’t refuse it. But we won’t expect it either.
How long do we play, when do we go on, when is load-in?
Headliners usually do one set clocking about 70 to 90 minutes.
Co-bills backing each other and alternating songs usually do one set of about 90 minutes.
Co-bills doing individual sets tend to do about 45 minutes apiece.
Headliners and co-bills can read the room to go longer or shorter, we don’t have a hard and fast rule.
Headliners who bring on their own opener get to make the set-lengths call.
Single openers that we bring on do about 20/25 minutes. (We’ll always seek headliner approval of single openers.)
If we’re running open-mic-style shorts, those are 10 minutes each max with quick turnover. We try to keep it limited to four.
We don’t require having an opener, but it’s nice to get local players in on things being as how that’s our mission and all. Let us know from the top if you’d rather not have one (which is fine) so we can note it prominently in the outreach to get there on time. Sometimes there won’t be an opener because a good musical match just doesn’t churn up. If we do an open-mic type of thing, check all expectations — we love those, we don’t get to do them nearly often enough.
Something to note: Two sets by the same act is a bad idea — there’s audience loss at the break every single time no matter how amazing the performance is. So weird. Never happens when individual acts do a set each, just when one act does two sets.
Most shows are 7:00 PM starts. If you’re into doing a matinee, that’s also on the table; usually matinees are 2:00 or 3:00 starts, sometimes 4:00. It’s something we work out together. Note that the room is daylit when the sun is out.
As far as attendance goes, it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s evening or matinee.
The first act usually starts a few minutes after the advertised start time, and headliners start after the opener plus a ~10 minute break. Door is usually 30 minutes before start.
Load-in is when you feel comfortable getting there. Our aim is to be ready for soundcheck at least 90 minutes before door, but we usually start setting up hours before that. The room dials in quickly (setting monitors take longer than FOH), but more soundcheck is better than less.
There’s a loading dock and a cart if you’ve got a lot of stuff to schlep or it’s raining, or you just like loading docks as much as we do.
What’s the room like?
It’s a makeshift space in an old factory turned creative economy incubator in a building on the National Historic Register that also has the studios of fine artists, craftspeople, and artisans. It’s a sort of souped-up house concert in a light-industrial setting. There are 40 folding chairs plus standing room. Total entry is cut off at 60, which has never happened yet.
Stage 33 Live doesn’t piggyback on a coffeehouse, or a bar, or a restaurant, and BYOB isn’t allowed. Given that the whole point of this thing is to honor the stage, we consider the lack of distractions a boon. Not everyone agrees and that’s OK. We do have coffee, soda, water, and snacks available by donation for the audience, free for the talent.
There’s a green room behind the stage… sprawling, spartan, conditioned, not secure, no private bathroom. The building doesn’t normally have wifi, but we try to check out a data box from the library on show nights.
What are the technical particulars?
The stage is 8′ deep and 16′ wide and about 8″ high, and has plush plush plush carpet on it because the whole thing acts like a giant stomp box unless we pad it. We hope to do something about that from underneath at some point. The stage backdrop is black; you might consider lighter clothing for contrast.
We have an OKish mic locker and everything normally needed for sound reinforcement. You can bring your own mics if you wish (condensers need to have really crackerjack rear rejection), your own DIs if you want, whatever smalls help you feel comfortable. 16 channels of send. We have three wedges but if you don’t need them we’re happy to not set them up because it helps keep bleed down on the recording. We don’t have a personal monitor mix system but sure wish we could afford to; monitor mixes are sent from the board. Sound person supplied, though you’re welcome to bring your own. If you have weird needs, let us know — we’ll try to make it happen. We don’t have any backline or house instruments. We have LED small PARs for stage lighting, nothing fancy. The room is daylit during daylight hours, something to keep in mind.
We love stage plots and input lists.
If you want to do a true acoustic show with no amplification whatsoever (including nixing the PA), we’re game.
Do you promote?
You bet. We can do it even better if you supply an EPK with good bio and press boilerplate, high-res photos, and anything else that seems useful.
We land decent column-inches in the regional papers regularly. We list in appropriate online and print calendars. We push on Facebook and Instagram. (Why not Twitter or the others? Dunno, really.) We have an opt-in email newsletter. We poster and flier.
We generally make fliers in-house, but are just as happy to post supplied material if you prefer. If you’d like us to use yours, a couple dozen smalls — letter or less — is good. 11x17s tend to get quickly covered up or pulled down from most public bulletin boards around here, though there are four or five good high-traffic safe locations for those. Our venue address doesn’t receive snail mail; the admin address for surface mail is “Stage 33 Live (admin), 8A Atkinson St, Bellows Falls VT 05101”.
Although much effort and time is given to enthusiastically selling the sizzle, sometimes turnout is pretty disheartening. There’s no apparent rhyme or reason to what clicks and what doesn’t, and sometimes turnout is bad even for those with comparatively wide renown. For many pros and touring folks, working for door in a small room is deal-breaker territory, and appropriately so. If you’re plugging into us as a tour-hole-filler, that eases the pressure some… but there’s a chance (especially if you’re touring) that your P&L on this day could be meager.
Our best turnouts so far have broken 50. That’s really rare. Average for touring acts is a couple dozen, half that for locals. The worst have been two shows with local artists, tied, with three… brutal. (Got good video though.)
There’s almost always a positive difference in attendance when the artist also promotes as aggressively as we do.
Even though our main purpose is to document you doing your thing, we’d much rather have more people in the room than fewer.
For local people, there are about as many advantages to not having people in the room as vice versa, honestly. Flub an intro or a line? Heck, just start over for a better take. If you want a closed set, we’ll try to accommodate it on an off-schedule day. Or if you want us to go lean on the outreach on purpose so it’ll be mostly just your friends, we will.
Touring musicians booked elsewhere in the area may be contractually restricted from additional public performances, but may want to pop in and document a few songs on the down-low to help hype their next show in town (whether it’s here or somewhere else).
If you’re a bigwig who wants to play secret show under a pseudonym, we’re down with shenanigans and can keep a secret.
We say this without negativity or judgment, and frankly these facts are a big part of why we’re doing this: The immediate community is a one-square-mile rural village of 3,000 with a poverty rate of over 25%. The wealth, education, and leisure gaps are wide. Going out to listening rooms, especially ones without a bar, just ain’t part of the lifestyle for most around here — but the local audience is growing, so we’re doing something right. A strong percentage of the audience comes in from nearby communities and farther-flung places; at one memorable show, five states were represented.
You record and film everything?
We do. The performances, not literally everything. Everyone who performs or presents is recorded and filmed. We have an intimidating release form — but have no intention of screwing over anybody, ever. The release is meant to cover everyone’s butts, including yours, by spelling out everything as completely as possible… even stuff that’s almost certainly never going to happen in a million years. You’ll need to sign one before you perform.
The media will never replace being in the room, but showing people what they’re missing is probably the best way to inspire them to start going to live shows. The two things can support each other. Plus non-cellphone performance videos can help land other, bigger, better bookings.
We’re not a professional service, however. We believe that a decent record of a great performance is better than pristine documentation of a decent performance.
We’ll eventually be using the material in a broadcast variety performance program that we’re hoping will ultimately get picked up by the regional public TV and radio. In the meantime, we’re posting clips on YouTube, where aggregate views as of this writing are approaching 11K.
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. Do the hell out of the thing. It’s supposed to be enjoyable and rewarding and fulfilling.
We make production decisions with the documentation that are intended to enhance, and sometimes to compensate. Sometimes a performance won’t get used for a variety of reasons.
We’re really far behind on mixing and cutting, but working hard to catch up.
We’re trying to raise money for better cameras, but they’re expensive and it’s slow going.
Performers can use the audio and video we produce in any way they see fit, including monetizing it.
Be cool, honey bunny!
There are reasons for this next bit, unfortunately. By our reckoning, it applies to about five out of every hundred performers, so chances are excellent you’re not one of them.
Ever work a free gig for a cause or as a favor, but then somebody kinda sucks the air out of it? They’re probably not a jerk, they’re just invested in wanting the thing to be the best thing they think the thing can be — and unthinkingly crap on your good kindness by, perhaps, changing their mind about which side of the room you should be in after you’ve already set everything up, or telling you after you get there that you have to play something other than your planned repertoire, or surprising you with the news that you’re the accompanist for their tone-deaf cousin for the evening, or expecting you to also bartend, bus tables, and sweep up.
The good news is that we’re never gonna do any of that kind of stuff to you.
But here’s the thing: We’re the ones working the free gig, and you’re the cause we’re supporting.
Our intention is to contribute — to the best of our ability and judgment, and within our equipment’s limitations and our own, and within the bounds of reason, sanity, and self-preservation — to the ascendancy of your arc.
After many lead-up hours promoting your appearance, and many hours setting up, show-running, and tearing down on the day, most of our work is still ahead. A 12-song set can take a couple weeks or more of dedicated work to mix and cut, once we can get at it — and we’re doing it with no pay, at no cost to you, for your benefit. Down the road, we’re looking at producing full-length TV and radio programming to get you in front of tons more eyeballs and in tons more earholes… and that’ll add a lot more work to what we’re already doing.
All we ask of you is understanding and respect and kindness.
Business-minded people scold us for not charging you. There’s no denying that it’s a lousy business decision on our part, but the mission is eminently worthy. We do have limits though.
It never leaves the top of our heads that we’re being honored with your trust. If we think a performance doesn’t reflect well on you, we won’t spend time on it and nobody will ever see or hear it. If you think a performance doesn’t reflect well on you and you ask us to strike it, we’ll almost certainly honor that. (Something to chew on: Many artists are their own worst critic. That’s usually a good thing, but it can get to the point where that internal critic becomes their own worst enemy. A flawed performance can be far more endearing and affecting than something impeccable but far less human.)
We’ll always give weight to your concerns and thoughts, always. If something is really bugging you, we definitely want to know. But if you want a perfect and pristine pro CD, or an amazing pro video, you need to book time in a professional recording studio or with a professional video service. Those places will almost never have our heart and soul, but they’ll have way better gear than we can afford. Which you’ll pay for, rightly and properly.
We make everyone sound and look as good as we can, aiming for a balance that works on everything from wee cellphones to TVs with kickass sound, and for audiences ranging from just-the-facts festival bookers to the far larger pool of casual viewers who will hopefully buy your music or go see you play live if we can keep them watching and listening long enough. It’s tricky, and elusive, and a lot to juggle.
So here we all are on the road to hell together, you and us, paving our way as humans trying to do what’s good and right despite all our attendant frailties and limitations.
If all the preceding sounds OK and we have an open date that looks tasty, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org — the more info the better, including links. And we’re happy to answer any questions.