|Windham County, Vermont, is now classified as an area of ‘high public transmission.’ While Vermont’s case count, hospitalizations, and deaths are nowhere anywhere near as terrible as other places carrying the same label, the county is seeing an average of 10 cases per day. Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 1 in 24 residents have been infected. Windham County is currently at a very high risk for unvaccinated people. Our policy at the time of this publication is as follows: “All individuals are required to wear a mask (except when eating or drinking) and maintain a six-foot social distance from people not in their party at our events. Seating will be a minimum of eight feet from the stage. If you wish to make a custom seating pod for your party, arrive early and we’ll help you do it. (Our chairs are movable and configurable.) People who have already arrived and have arranged their seating will not be expected to move. GUIDANCE MAY CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE, because that’s how science works. Some shows may have tighter restrictions by the performer’s request. Any additional per-show guidance will be found on the individual show pages on this website.”|
|Performers: That policy extends to you as well, although we don’t require you to wear a mask while performing. But if you want to wear a singing mask, you should absolutely feel comfortable doing that. If you want us to advertise your show as ‘vaccinated-only by performer request’, let us know… and if you want us to require proof of vaccination at the door, let us know that too as far in advance as possible so we can include it in the outreach. If for your own health and safety you decide that you want to postpone your performance indefinitely, let us know as far in advance as you can.|
Mid-September COVID-19 update: CDC guidance is that all people should wear masks indoors in high transmission areas, while guidance from the state of Vermont is that masking is encouraged but not required. Private businesses can make their own policies. Stage 33 Live’s policy has been created and changes to it are made with direction from the 33 Bridge Street owners and tenants. It makes absolutely no difference if you disagree with it or feel that it somehow infringes on your liberties. None.
All individuals are required to mask at our events. We’re not asking for proof of vaccination at this point unless the artist requests it of us. If they do, we will. (Performers will not be required to wear a mask while on stage, in case this factors into your decision-making.)
We want to be crystal clear that we’re not “living in fear” or “sheeple” or “hysterical” or “suckered by the mainstream media.” We cordially invite anyone who thinks their personal freedom of choice outweighs the health and wellbeing of the community and the performers to exercise their freedom to ‘cancel culture’ us. We’re OK with that.
The Stage 33 Live crew is vaxxed.
The fall-winter-spring ’21-’22 season is locked, we’re at capacity and can’t fit in anything more.
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 have rough edges, restrictions, and pitfalls, but we like to think that they complement the glory and guts of the project. Not everyone agrees, and 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. Each date has availabilities for Performers or Presenters and Artists; you can be both if you wish.
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.
The performance space is an area shared in common by the building’s tenants — they, and the building’s owners, have right of refusal of all performers and dates. We’re at the bottom of that food chain. Everything we do requires their approval, and not everything we’ve asked to do has been given a green light. If we owned the real estate, we could call all the shots… but we don’t, so we can’t.
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. Our calendar presently only goes through the end of 2022.
- Our fall-winter-spring 2021/’22 schedule grid is booked solid. There are no overflow dates available. There’s exactly one open date still available in late 2022. We hope to open the 2023 calendar around the beginning of 2022.
- sun dec 11 ’22 (every 3rd sunday)
· PERFORMER: OPEN
· ARTIST: OPEN
- sun jan 01 ’23 (every 3rd sunday; also new year’s day)
· PERFORMER: OPEN
· ARTIST: 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, rock, and more. Informative and/or entertaining original spoken word is absolutely and enthusiastically on the table — humanities and science topics are always super-welcome along with artful words. We can accommodate speaker panels of up to seven people on the stage.
Only original, copyright-owned material is allowed, whether music or words. Public Domain and Fair Use is also OK (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.
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?
Headliners play for 100% of presale + door, less the 11th ticket sold which we put toward promotion costs. We don’t snub artists who aren’t a guaranteed draw. We’re not able to offer a guarantee, deposit, meals, etc. We’re a shoestring DIY nonprofit run by volunteers.
We’ll work with headliners to set entry pricing to meet reasonable expectations (whether tickets or suggested donation). 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 hasn’t happened yet. We were starting to see the results of cultivating a built-in audience, but COVID-19 has almost certainly set us back and all bets are off.
Our best turnouts have broken 50. That’s rare. Average for touring acts is a couple dozen, half that for locals.
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.
Ticket prices or donation-at-the-door tend to range from a low of what-you-wish to $20 for a touring co-bill. For artists who don’t have to travel far to get here, $5 is common. Touring artists are usually $10/$15ish advance, $15/$20ish door. In our experience, if a value isn’t put on a show, people don’t value it — so we do recommend putting some price on it, even if it’s a suggested minimum donation.
We’re fine with flat price, age-tiered, or pretty much any other structure. If you want us to state that nobody will be turned away for lack of funds, we happily will. We’ve never tried a pay-as-you-exit scheme, but are open to the idea.
When it seems appropriate or is requested by the headliner we set up online advance ticket sales, generally with premium seating and extra-donation-for-the-artist options. Otherwise it’s pay-at-the-door festival seating.
Openers work without pay, which is a hard pill for us to swallow — though the documentation we produce does have value. We welcome 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 them — we pay out cash on the night to the booking party only.
For open mics and short sets, there’s no pay. 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.
All merch sales are 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 if it doesn’t seem skeezy. That said, we’ve been trying to distill everything on our end into a Performance Agreement; it’s still just a 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 not able to offer a guarantee, deposit, meals, etc. We’re a shoestring DIY nonprofit run by volunteers. Other than the 11th ticket to help cover promo costs for your show, we take no cuts of door or merch; we rely on donations to cover our expenses. (We keep trying, with little success, to land foundation grants — we don’t have enough track record, we’re too hard to understand, we’re too small, whatever… we don’t really know how the decisions are made.) We firmly believe that all workers deserve to get paid for their work, and we hope to get paid for ours one day; in the meantime, we do our best to make sure you get paid for yours. 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. We were using metal folding chairs and audiences tended to start getting fidgety by 90 minutes… but now we have padded chairs, so that wisdom will probably change. We’ve had seasoned pros who play these kinds of rooms a lot direct a short stand-and-stretch from the stage for like a minute at about an hour in, it’s really effective (and, with the right patter so you don’t accidentally lose them, fun).
Co-bills backing each other and alternating songs usually do one set of about 90 minutes, or sometimes two 45ish-minute sets. Something to note: Every time one act does two sets, there’s audience loss at the break no matter how amazing the performance is. Never happens when individual acts do a set each, just when one act does two sets. So weird.
Co-bills doing individual sets tend to do about 45-55 minutes apiece, with a 10-minute break.
Headliners and co-bills are encouraged to read the room and, if so moved, go longer or shorter by feel; when magic is happening we don’t want arbitrary rules getting in the way of it. Conversely, shows where things just ain’t clickin’ are rare in our experience.
Single openers that we bring on do about 20/25 minutes. We’ll always seek headliner approval of single openers. 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. Sometimes a local musical match just doesn’t churn up, and in that case we might run three or four open-mic-style short sets (usually 10 minutes each with quick turnover) that can be wildly diverse. Often they’re people we’ve never seen or heard before. It’s fun.
Headliners who bring on their own opener can make whatever time-share agreement they want.
Let us know right away if you’d rather not have an opener (which is fine) — when there’s no opener, we like to note that in the outreach to encourage people to be sure to get there on time.
Most shows are 7:00 PM starts. If you’re into doing a matinee, that’s also on the table; usually matinees are 3:00 starts. 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 usually opens 30 minutes before start. If there’s a visual artist signed up, an hour 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, if you need them, takes 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 chairs plus standing room. Total entry is cut off at 60, which has never happened.
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).
We don’t have a proper green room, but there are a couple places that are removed from the performance space that we can set you up. We’re talking totally spartan. The building doesn’t 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 5″ high, and has thick padding and plush carpet on it because the whole thing acts like a giant stomp box unless we damp it. We hope to do something about that from underneath at some point. The stage backdrop is black.
We have a marginally 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. Mostly guerilla. 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 hard on social media even though social media seems to be increasingly irrelevant. We have an opt-in email newsletter. We poster.
We make posters in-house, but are happy to put up supplied material. If you’d like us to use yours, a couple dozen smalls — letter or littler — 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”.
Much effort and time is given to enthusiastically selling the sizzle, but sometimes turnout is disheartening even for those with comparatively wide renown. There’s no apparent rhyme or reason to what clicks and what doesn’t. For many pros and touring folks, working for door in a small room is deal-breaker territory, and appropriately so. On the other hand, we feel no shame in being a tour-hole-filler.
Our best turnouts have broken 50. Like, twice… it’s 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.
There’s almost always a positive difference in attendance when a local or regional artist also promotes as aggressively as we do.
Even though the real legs of the project is the documentation of you doing your thing, we’d much rather have more people in the room than fewer. In terms of that though, there are about as many advantages to having almost nobody in the room as vice versa, honestly. Make a flub? Heck, just start over. If you want us to go lean on the outreach with the specific intent of having a very very small audience, or want to impose a tight limit on tickets, we’ll do that. If you want to have a closed set on purpose, we’ll try to accommodate it on an off-schedule day. Performers booked elsewhere in the area may be contractually restricted from additional public performances, though may want to pop in on the down-low for whatever reasons they might have. Or if you’re a bigwig wanting to play secret show under a pseudonym, we’re down with shenanigans and can keep a secret.
But back to reality. 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. 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 (yours included) 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 take the stage.
We’re not a professional service, however. If you want pristine audio or feature-film video, you need to book time in a professional recording studio or with a professional video service. Those places will have way better gear than we can afford. Which you’ll pay for, along with their labor and expertise, as is right and proper.
We believe that decentish documentation of a great performance is better than fabulous documentation of a just-OK performance. And we know that 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. Also, non-cellphone performance videos can help land other, bigger, better bookings. Our intention is that the two things should support each other.
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 have surpassed 20K. Not viral, but meaningful.
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.
Sometimes a performance won’t get used for a variety of reasons.
Performers can use the audio and video we produce in any way they see fit, including monetizing it.
Be cool, honey bunny!
No whining, K?
Also, this next bit has reasons — but by our reckoning, it applies to fewer than three out of a 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 you by, perhaps, 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 changing their mind about which side of the room you should be in after you’ve set up, or expecting you to also bartend, bus tables, and sweep up after the show.
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. We make production decisions with the documentation that are intended to enhance, and sometimes to compensate. If there’s a major problem we definitely want to hear about it, but remember — we’re not getting paid for the hours and hours we work on behalf of the dozens of performers and presenters we host each season. Bespoke tweaking isn’t on the menu because it just can’t be.
After many hours promoting an 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 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.
Business-minded people scold us for not charging people. There’s no denying that it’s a lousy business decision on our part… but we think the mission is 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 seem to be at least par, we won’t use it. And if you think a performance doesn’t reflect well on you, let us know and it’s 99.9% likely that we’ll bury it. (Many artists are their own worst critic. That can be a good thing, but can also get to the point where it becomes their own worst enemy. Perhaps we’re biased, but we feel that — within limits — an imperfect performance is more endearing, affecting, and memorable than one that’s impeccable but soulless.)
We make everyone sound and look as good as we can, aiming for a balance that works on everything from wee cellphones to kickass stereos, 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. We’ll always give weight to your concerns and thoughts though. If something is really bugging you, we definitely want to know.
So here we all are on the road to hell together, you and us, humans trying to do what’s good and right and affirming despite our frailties and shortcomings.
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.