Independent music venues were pummeled by the pandemic, and nonprofit organizations formed across the country to help out. One of those was New York’s Live Music Society, which came together in 2020 to save small clubs from the COVID-19 crisis.
The group offered grants to small venues to help them make it through shutdowns. By the end of last year, Live Music Society had doled out $1.5 million; it plans to have distributed a total of $2 million by the close of 2021. Denver's hi-dive, which risked shutting down during the closures, was one of the recipients during the first round.
Founded in 2003, the Baker club has long been a fixture of the city’s rock scene, with a divey feel, first-rate sound, and booking that rivals that of any venue in town, with renowned touring artists, struggling indie bands and up-and-coming locals playing intimate, rowdy shows. Over the years, the club has boosted the careers of superstar locals like Khemmis, The Lumineers and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. More recently, in addition to maintaining its legacy as a rock club, the hi-dive has become something of a fixture in the underground country scene, offering a grittier alternative to the Grizzly Rose.
As part of the grant program, Live Music Society launched the Empty Spaces video series directed by Chris Morgan and produced by Morgan and Mike Ligon. The short docs tell the stories of some of the best indie venues nationwide and their struggles before, during and after the COVID closures.
The latest episode spotlights the hi-dive and includes interviews with club owner Matty Clark, Denver Post arts and entertainment writer John Wenzel and CPR DJ Alisha Sweeney, along with the longtime fans and employees who make the hi-dive so special. The videos in the series chronicling the histories and struggles of small clubs nationwide are available at the Live Music Society website; the hi-dive documentary premieres June 16.
Thankfully, the hi-dive, along with many of the city’s clubs, is back in business with a solid weekly lineup, including Thursday night karaoke; Rap Nite With El Brian on Friday, June 11; Nick Dittmeier and the Sawdusters on Sunday, June 13; and Jesse Daniel on Friday, June 18. For more information and a complete schedule, go to the hi-dive website.
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