by Crissi Langwell and Will Bucquoy [http://707.pressdemocrat.com/2013-03-11/featured/live-musicians-co-op]:
Ben Stephens and Nathan Prowse, owners of Live Musicians Co-op. (photo by Will Bucquoy)
The Live Musician’s Co-op feels brand new because it is…..and it isn’t. The truth is, the co-op was created back in October 2006, going through many changes before their grand re-opening earlier this year.
For Ben Stephens, 34, and Nate Prowse, 30 (who came on board in 2012), it has been their goal to provide local, struggling musicians with an affordable creative environment to rehearse, to record demos and music videos, and a place to network. And because music lessons are available for nearly every instrument, musicians can learn the basics of music as well as how to obtain work as a professional artist.
Stephens and Prowse are both seasoned music professionals with a first hand working knowledge of what a starving musician must endure to build on his craft and make it available to the community.
“There was a huge market for bands that hadn’t ‘made’ it yet or had little money to pursue their passion for music,” Stephens said. “Now, bands or individual performers of all skill levels have a place where they can perform on a live stage in front of a live audience, or record, or tighten their sound and get critiqued by others who can help them grow and flourish.”
“All these bands were going through Santa Rosa and there was a huge wall put up by the city,” Prowse added. “The city was strict on the places these bands could play and venues were closed. With new council members if feels as though there is more support for the arts. Perhaps they realize that Santa Rosa is a very artistic community with some of the best musicians in the world living here.”
At the Live Musicians Co-op (LMC), there is always a buzz of activity that is quickly establishing itself as a mecca for music and paradise for performers looking to finely tune their craft.
The recording studio was added in 2008. But fate would dictate that the unveiling of the new studio would have to wait. Within a month of its opening, a pipe burst in the wall causing major flooding to the building. With over $60,000 worth of damage to the facilities, they had to shut the doors for over four months. By the time they could re-open, they had lost 90% of the established business. The studio had to start over building relationships with musicians who needed what they offer.
Within a year, LMC gained all that business back and then some. They started out hosting space for only two bands a week. Now it’s well over thirty.
In 2010 Ex’pression graduate David L. Minard, was hired on as lead recording engineer. In January 2012, Nathan Prowse became a co-owner and was brought on to introduce the LMC education programs and help with the expansion. In July of 2012, LMC secured a lease on a new building and began the construction of the new LMC Performance Center and recording studio. And both Ben and Nate did the majority of the building themselves with the help and guidance of many friends.
After 6 months of construction, Live Musicians Co-op reopened with their first event in February 2013 – Battle of the Outstanding Bands. Twelve amateur bands competed for a grand prize of $1,000 credit towards recording options in the studio, and to raise funds for the fight against breast cancer. The winner of the Battle of Outstanding Bands was indie band Grace in the Woods.
The Live Musicians Co-op is now up and running, complete with a fully equipped rehearsal and recording studio, with opportunity to network and perform as well as learn more through one of their many educational workshops. They also have a 1000 SF space for events, offer music lessons, and PA systems available for rent.
You can contact Live Musician’s Co-op at (707) 527-8845 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found at livemusicianscoop.com, or on their Facebook page at facebook.com/LiveMusicians.
Grace in the Woods at Live Musician’s Co-op’s B.O.O.B.s (photo by Will Bucquoy)