The Malady of Spokane Music

I’ve been hearing about it left and right: Music venues in Spokane are being shut down for one ridiculous reason or another, there is always something happening that is causing them to have to close their doors on music, or even worse, close their doors completely.

The sad part is, this couldn’t be more true.

Last night our show at the Rocket Market up on 43rd was canceled, and when we asked why, we found that a “cease and desist” order had been placed upon the business, demanding that they stop the music or face legal action. I was always under the impression that unless you played past 10:00 PM (sound ordinance) you were safe? So why did this really come about, and what Grinch is finding it necessary to continue to “complain” about the noise? All the shows that I’ve been to up there have been far from raucous and loud, so this worries me greatly. Especially since I’m noticing a trend when it comes to music venues that allow all ages and are extremely family friendly; Liquor Control Boards end up being exceptionally harsh on these businesses, the Cops are always digging for one reason or another to come out and investigate, and I swear they are collaborating to stop these venues from keeping their doors open all together.

For a community that’s trying to grow and progress with Mom & Pop businesses, Spokane is not really having any shining moments; Rather the opposite.

Look at both Caterina Winery and the Empyrean. These are two other venues that play great music, but allow all ages. Both are always getting harassed by law enforcement, whether they’re sending the Liquor Control Board out, or even worse, stating the venue needs a sprinkler system to even continue running (which could potentially put both places under if the money isn’t raised to install these systems, which is not a cheap feat to accomplish).

So why the attack on all of these venues? Why aren’t people putting their foot down? It’s always a hard thing when “the system” appears to have too much power, but I’m telling you guys, we DO have a say. We DO have a right to try to keep Spokane alive and musically happy. Wouldn’t you rather that the young ones be out enjoying music in a safe environment rather than sneaking off to a house party? I’ve been to all venues multiple times, and I’ve never deemed any of these places to be offending or even remotely dangerous. Especially not the Rocket Market. Go ahead and ask around too, I bet you 99% of the people that have been to these places would say it’s one of their favorite places to go… so WHY all of the trouble?!

Personally, I think “the man” needs to get off his high horse and understand that there might be one or two intolerant people out there that will complain about music, but take into consideration the 200 and some people that are truly enjoying it. Shouldn’t that FAR outweigh the complaints? I think the “cease and desist” order is just a way for law enforcement to be LAZY, meaning they don’t like having to deal with the grumpy two or three people calling, so instead of just dealing with it (because really, it’s not past 10:00PM) they take the easy route of canceling the music all together. It’s pathetic. We don’t pay the law enforcement to shut down great businesses, we pay them to protect and serve the community… I know for sure that they’re really not protecting the community by shutting down the music at the Rocket, or the Empyrean, OR Caterina. They’re hurting businesses and ruining the chance for neighbors to get together and to get to know each other.

eah. Thumbs DOWN to you, and you know who you are.

For more information, check out Som’s blog and find ways to contact the Mayor etc. to get this problem resolved: The Som Show




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6 responses to “The Malady of Spokane Music

  1. Joe Kory

    I recently spoke with the Captain of the Liquor Control Board(yeah, that’s her title). Nice lady, sympathetic to music etc., but she and the others,cops fire department, are just doing their job(some with more enthusiasm than is needed). That job is enforcing the laws. The laws need to change. It is illegal to bring my teenage daughter, under my supervision, to certain venues under certain conditions–the greatest restriction is live music “after hours”, which they define for me as a parent. Being around booze and drunks in restaurants, football games is fine, just don’t allow the evil of live music. Yes, live music causes more restrictions than recorded music. Oh, half time music at games is not restricted–can’t shake your booty to it I guess.

  2. Carly

    Great statement darlin, I would completely agree with this dispute and everything you believe in it. I too as a photographer of bands, have been to all of these places you’ve mention, I feel exactly the same way, and it is really sad to see that the people who support us and give us an advantage to play, show, experience and live productively I believe… are being shut down, restricted, harassed and much more… we need to do something about it.. before there is nothing left…

  3. A.J. "beasty beast" hanenburg

    Here’s the deal: Spokane doesn’t actually have a 10:00 pm curfew. You can play as loud as you want, as long as you want, so long as nobody complains. Complaints can be lodged at ANY TIME during the day. So if a complaint is lodged, I’m pretty sure they have to come out (and being spokane police, they don’t have much to occupy themselves with, what with the meth problem and all). So that’s the deal. Just thought I’d inform everybody. It was in an inlander article a while back.

  4. moncheriband

    So perhaps the real solution is not to fight with the cops, or the liquor control board, or the firefighters. The real solution is to work WITH them, rather than push and pull in an argument that will lead us nowhere. If we can work with them, and find out a way to stop the incessant lack of trust in all-ages venues, I’m totally open to it. If they are willing to work with us I KNOW we will be more than willing to work with them. Blame can be places in a million places, but pointing fingers leads us nowhere. Who’s with me to attempt to collaborate some time of meeting where we can all sit down and hash it out?! Let’s make it work, Tim Gunn style 😉

  5. Kelly (RAD) Stevens

    I am happy to know that we don’t have a 10pm noise curfew and that we can complain any time of day. Next time my neighbor mows his lawn before 9am I will call. And they better come out.

  6. Aaron

    Very well put. It really is a sad state. Even sadder, it’s been happening for years. Spokane used to have a vibrant jazz scene (my two eldest brothers made a passable living playing Jazz in Spokane in the 70s), but the city decided they want a cut of the action and started charging exorbitant prices for “performance licenses” and most of the jazz venues folded. Our loss, Seattle’s gain since a lot of the musicians went west over the mountains to a healthier music climate.

    The jazz scene collapsed, Spokane didn’t get their precious fee money, and the musicians and people of Spokane didn’t get their music scene.

    Sad to see that decades pass, but Spokane’s still trying to kill its own music scene.

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