Reverb Lounge remodels before reopening; RESTART venue support legislation gets final push before August recess…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:00 pm July 22, 2020
Reverb Lounge: Under Construction

The above picture was posted on the Reverb Lounge Facebook page last week and shows that there no longer is a wall separating the venue’s music performance space from the bar. The remodel is one of the reasons why Reverb hasn’t reopened yet.

Marc Leibowitz, who runs Reverb along with business partner Jim Johnson, said the wall coming down is the biggest part of the venue’s remodel. “We are doubling the PA that covers the whole space, but not many other changes really,” he said. “Reverb will now be a full-time venue. It will only be open when there is an event.”

While Reverb’s separate performance room was unique, it was also strangely antiseptic, almost clinical in nature, as if you were entering an examination room, whereas the rest of Reverb felt like a (clean) lived-in corner bar. Making the venue one large room will be as dramatic a change as when The Waiting Room “opened up” its stage area a few years back — a huge improvement. With the wall down, Reverb’s performance-space capacity will increase, which could mean larger, more popular bands playing its stage.

Leibowitz said Reverb will reopen sometime in August. Now what about The Slowdown?

Jason Kulbel, who runs The Slowdown, said the reopening date for the downtown venue is still up in the air, as the club is in the process of moving all its scheduled August shows. “The two touring shows we had postponed late last week, so that forced the hand,” he said.

Touring appears to be dead. Just glancing at band promo materials in my in-box, there are no national tours going on this year; in fact, I’m not seeing anything for 2021, either.

And beginning late last week I finally began seeing a few impassioned pleas by artists for people to write Congress to get on board with the RESTART Act (S. 3814), legislation being pushed by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA). I was going to write a column about it for next month’s issue of The Reader, until I found out from NIVA that would probably be too late.

“We need to have legislation passed by the August recess or we can expect hundreds of independent venues across the country to fold,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, NIVA’s communications director. The Senate’s August recess begins Aug. 7, and the weasels aren’t scheduled to return until Sept. 8. Never mind that the country is suffering from a 100-year pandemic.

Schaefer said the list of co-sponsors “grows every day,” which is another reason for an all-out push to send a letter to our congressmen. Unfortunately, we live in Nebraska, where our red politicians could give a shit about art, culture and the future of live music.

But that shouldn’t stop you from going to the NIVA “Take Action page” and adding your name to the list of those who sent a letter urging Fischer, Sasse and Bacon to support and cosponsor S. 3814/H.R. 7481, the RESTART Act. If you’re gonna do it, do it now. It takes less than a minute to fill out the form.

You may get back the same form letter I got from Deb Fischer, which boasts about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

But PPP loans are only fully forgivable if companies keep all of their employees on the payroll or rehire them within eight weeks of receiving the loan, which most venues can’t do.

Fischer, Sasse and Bacon know this, but do they care?

Every year, more and more talented people, musicians, artists and young professionals are moving out of Nebraska to places like LA, Portland, Seattle and New York, and politicians are left scratching their heads wondering why-why-why?

You have efforts like Blueprint Nebraska, whose “vision” is: “Our people, land, and location will propel Nebraska to be the most welcoming Midwest state for youth, talent, investment, and commerce and a national model for continuous growth and prosperity.

What a joke. The number one reason young people are leaving this state is its political and social environment. They’re tired of living in a red state that doesn’t care about anything but its perceived “family values,” and which views the arts as some sort of frivolous, childish novelty that has no intrinsic value. The lack of support by our representatives for the RESTART Act is proof of this. Once the young artists, musicians and professionals begin to realize that things will never change, they start looking for a better place to live, a place that values what they can offer. And who can blame them?

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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