Posted on August 5, 2014
Posted on May 10, 2013
Posted on February 25, 2013
“There’s a sonic point on the stairway, where it’s just hushhh. All of a sudden it’s quiet. It’s quiet and now you’re in this place.”
Joe Gurba’s voice grows calm as he describes a spot on the stairs down to the Elevation Room. It’s the place where the sound of espresso machines and chatter from Transcend Cafe instantly vanishes. It’s the point where you are immediately submerged in the sounds from the stage and in the communal moment taking place. I can’t count how many times I’ve sat there, holding on to the banister, overwhelmed as a crowd created a moment of togetherness in the small basement. Joe knows that feeling well:
“Great music is great music no matter what, but the other half of it is making this community moment where everyone’s happy together. It’s a human experience, shared in common, completely unalienated by money or by commerce. It’s just art. And we share it together and we all realize that there’s more to living than just staying alive– that there’s a value to life. Many of the shows had those moments. Many, many of them. ”
So when Transcend announced that it was closing its Jasper Ave location, I slumped with disappointment. The young venue was the site of an enveloping love for both artists and audiences. As I talked to musicians who have played and worked the space, I realized I was not alone in thinking there was something distinct about descending ER’s old carpeted stairs. Musician Doug Hoyer, who worked sound for the ER, stresses that its separation from the “clatter of commerce” upstairs allowed the Elevation Room to emerge as dedicated space for both large and small acts.
“People take the steps– they willingly come downstairs to engage themselves in the show. … We’d get some really high end shows like Bry Webb coming through, some real, premier artists. But it’s also a great entry-level space for a lot of new performers where it might be their second show. It’s great for them to be able to have an experience where they’re playing their songs and it’s a full room and it’s quiet and [people] are listening. It’s not just some loud bar.”