Come April, hi-dive co-owner Curtis Wallach is going to have his hands full when he opens another music venue, Trinidad Lounge. Wallach, who moved to Trinidad in November, figured that since he wouldn’t be able to give his all to the hi-dive, as he’s been doing with co-owner Matty Clark since 2012, he wanted to hand over his talent-buying duties. Wallach wanted someone who'd been on the road and has seen booking from the other side.
“I just don't trust promoters who haven't seen it from the other end,” Wallach says.
So, he tapped 29-year-old George Cessna, who's been the bassist for his dad’s band Slim Cessna’s Auto Club since 2019. Cessna also fronts his own band, the Snakes, was part of the Sterling Sisters, and performs solo as well.
“Matty and I really don’t want the hi-dive to turn into an insular old-guy Denver rock club,” the forty-year-old Wallach says. “We were taking the pandemic to really see where we wanted the hi-dive to get steered next. And we wanted to remain relevant and have new blood in there, and that just keeps it exciting, and I think it keeps the finger on the pulse.”
Cessna has worked the door and as a bartender at the hi-dive since he moved back to Denver three years ago. The city was his hometown before he moved with his family to Rhode Island and Pittsburgh and then went to college in Baltimore. He played his first show when he was fifteen years old and started performing with his dad as a teenager.
As head talent buyer at the hi-dive, Cessna, who will share booking responsibilities with Clark and Maggie Moody, says he’ll try to add to Wallach and Clark's decade-long legacy.
“Curt wants us to use the space as our own and change it how we see fit,” Cessna says. “So I don't think it'll be exactly the same, but it will be more just building on what he's done so far, which is very impressive.”
As far as the musical direction Cessna will take, he says the hi-dive has had a nice range of things that he’s always enjoyed.
“It's going to take me a little while to figure out my own take with the place,” Cessna says. “I think that'll come naturally over time — or I hope. I think working with Matty and Maggie as a team is going to be really helpful, and it'll be more of all of our voices working toward that, not just me. So I don't want to say one thing or another. But we're certainly building off of Curt's work still, and we'll have a lot of that returning when shows are fully back, which will be great.”
While the hi-dive has hardly anything on the books through May, it might not be until late summer before, as Wallach puts it, the venue throws “shows that are actually fun again.” Cessna says he's booking fairly seriously for the fall, bringing in both local and touring acts who are friends of the venue, who will be okay if they’re not playing full-capacity shows under ever-evolving COVID restrictions.
Since the hi-dive has only had one show over the past year and the next show is about a month off, Cessna says it’s a really good time to ease into his new gig and not be barraged with a whole lot of things all at once.
When the hi-dive does gear up again for shows, Wallach says, the room will look totally different, since he, Clark and Moody used the past year to make a number of long-needed improvements to the space, like patch holes in the ceiling, renovate the office space downstairs and other things.
“It'll look a whole lot different than it did last March,” Wallach says.
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