Thursday, March 12, 2009

Save The Halfass!

A bastion of support and promotion for local music, for spurring camaraderie among up-and-coming local bands as well as providing a more cozy/ramshackle locale for avant-garde touring bands to swing into - The Halfass (or, the basement/Halfway Inn, of the East Quad Dorm on the U of M campus in Ann Arbor) is an all-ages, no-booze venue with the laid-back capricious vibe of a house-party transposed upon a wide rectangular room, neslted in a slight suburban slant of the U-M campus. It's run by volunteers from the East Quad Music Co-Op - continuing a tradition that's been passed down since the 1980's. Bands that have played include Nomo, Great Lakes Myth Society, Charlie Slick, Lightning Love, Prussia, Carjack, Wildcatting and MORE!

They're next show is scheduled for April 4th - with Wildcatting, Millions of Brazilians and
Ill Ease.

Now, they're being threatened with being closed down by the U-of-M Housing Services. For more background - here's snippets from a recent article (I wrote for Current Magazine).

We really have something special here: Halfass takes it to the max

By day, the East Quad Music Co-Op (Church St. between Hill and Willard) is the Halfway Inn Cafeteria, but every other Friday night, the decent-sized stage glows with a rainbow of lights (and a background of Encore-records’ vinyl) and national and touring bands (from Chris Bathgate, to Lightning Love to My Brightest Diamond and Wolf Eyes) set up for intense, intimate, and mind-blowing sets. The 150-capacity space is an all ages venue run by a non-profit student group. “Everything we do is fueled by our love of music,” said U-M student Ethan Milner who manages the schedule. The money, $5 at the door, goes straight to the bands. “At the heart of it, the sound, the set-up, the doors, everything, is all passed down from year-to-year and replenished with the energy of new members.”

Chelsea MacIntyre, who runs the EQMC, said, "The EQMC has been around in varying ways since the 80s. During the 80s, East Quadrangle Studios was a place for artists to record and we still have a lot of recorded material from that period. The East Quadrangle Music Cooperative began in 1993 but was then shut down in 2001 for various violations (drinking in the venue, mostly). It was re-started in 2004 by my friend Kathryn Chalmers and has been running ever since. I joined the group as a freshman in 2006."

"I have always found that national bands liked playing our venue because it's intimate and our audiences tend to be more engaged and responsive than audiences in other (larger) venues. The EQMC is all about taking whatever we can get our hands on (and believe me, it’s never much) and turning it into magic.” Adding that, what might seem like drawbacks, a self-run DIY on-the-cheap venue only “fuel(s) our creativity and define(s) us as a venue.” She concluded, in ‘09, “we’ve been blessed with such an amazing group of new recruits who are so awesome and talented and who will keep the dream alive next year after us seniors leave.” As for the venue, “I can’t think of one place I’d rather be. Every show, we take it to the max.”


Now, a selection from the petition letter circulating online:

"We are currently in talks with dining services about whether or not we can use the space for music at all. No decision has been made yet, but it is clear enough that we are in danger of being shut down with no explanation as to what has changed, except that the Halfway Inn's "primary purpose" is a cafeteria for dorm residents - a cafeteria that happens to have a stage in it.

Our success has been founded upon cooperation with UM's dining services, and an understanding that the Halfway Inn is a space that can be used for more than one purpose to the benefit of both East Quad residents and members of the Ann Arbor community. Please offer your support if you want to see a staple of local music press on. Our existence is a pure product of effort, love, and passion. Our reward is the music experience itself. These are all things that we love about Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Michigan music, and we want to keep participating in that.

We believe using the Halfway Inn is an integral facet of what we do, and that it benefits Michigan students, The University, East Quad residents, and the Ann Arbor community as a whole. Our aim is to work cooperatively with dining as partners to be able to use the space sparingly, one to three nights per month. We are students and community members who want to be heard. We want a voice.

Sign the Petition - keep the DIY Music Venue ALIVE

more info

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