15 thoughts on “Gravity Lounge Crushed by Debt”

  1. As I understand it the biggest part of this $200K debt is money owed to a silent investor. Sorry but if you invest in something and it doesn’t pan out, you loose. It’s time for the “lounge” to go.

  2. Mr. Jogger:

    I can’t let your comment pass. The Gravity Lounge is a huge cultural asset in this town. What difference does the identity of lender make? If the Gravity Lounge closes, the whole community will “loose.”

  3. @Hawkins Dale, then why didn’t the it’s community support it with its money? The people have had ample opportunity to spend money in that establishment> Perhaps while it was promoting a lot of social causes for free it should have been looking at the bottom line. I suspect I’m opening up a lot of emotional buckets here, but perhaps those that counted on its being a cultural entity should have realized it couldn’t exist without their spending money rather than just using it as a hangout.

  4. I have seen several great shows at Gravity that I would have had to travel to Richmond or DC to see until they opened. It is nice to have a hang-out spot, as well, and Gravity had done a lot by offering the space to various community groups also. But, they aren’t non-profit, and they aren’t a public enterprise. They have to be able to make changes to survive. I agree with Cville Eye: it seems there was a great cultural promotion concept, but not much of a business plan.

    I can’t think of one reason to go in there unless I really want to see a show. The space is dark and cold. The chairs are uncomfortable, and the views of the stage are obscured by the huge piers with bookshelves. They have very basic, limited food offerings, and there is one bathroom that has a huge line and is not wheelchair accessible. There’s no wi-fi,and no cell-phone reception b/c it’s pretty much a cave. I don’t go to Gravity because it is great venue, I go because of the event and that’s it.

    There has to be something they can do to keep the folk music going and attract customers. With all the other venues in town that compete for our concert dollars, they have to lure people in and get them to stay even if there isn’t a show scheduled. Move to a lower-rent space that is cozier? Redesign and offer a full menu? Offer a music academy? Dump the dusty books and art that people aren’t buying and sell something that’s in demand downtown? (Beer/wine sales?) $2 movie screenings with snacks and drinks?

    Or they could split with the investors and turn non-profit. Or sell to another music group. It’s sad, but community support isn’t going to do it for them.

  5. When I first walked into Gravity three years ago it took me a long time to get comfortable in the shadows, to see past what my “newer, shinier, trendier” market driven mind expected to see. But I came to realize that Gravity was not about the place, but about the sound. Its tough to ask people to look past a lot of things but at the same time, the payoff for seeing something other than dust were artists that someone my age might never have had the opportunity to hear. But more importantly, you can touch the music in gravity. Having had the once in a lifetime experience of meeting musicians like Odetta, Holly Near, Janis Ian, Eric Himan, Dar Williams, Johnny Winter, Livingston Taylor . . . I could go on forever! There are a different set of values being put forth inside those walls, values that are the foundation of that experience. In a world of bigger, better, and flashier, Bill Baldwin and the crew of Gravity have consciously chosen a different path, one that puts the music first, one that attempts to connect new voices with old. I am by no means saying the place is perfect, but I would choose its imperfectness coupled with the opportunity of a music experience over any venue in Charlottesville today.

  6. Bill Baldwin and the Gravity Lounge have been working hard to present great artists, many of whom are legends, in a smoke free, intimate environment, at reasonable ticket prices, for years. The costs involved in each and every show, not only financial, but in time and labor, are high. Bill’s commitment to providing a venue for nationally and internationally acclaimed artists as well as local artists and community building events is commendable. As director of the Blue Ridge Irish Music School (BRIMS) I have worked with Bill to present the BRIMS annual fundraiser hosted at Gravity for the past 4 years, and we are looking forward to doing the same this year. Bill has been a tremendous supporter of BRIMS, not because Gravity Lounge makes a ton of money at the show, but simply because he believes in BRIMS’ mission. Gravity has also hosted many, many excellent Irish and Scottish bands and musicians who ordinarily would have had to bypass Charlottesville during their tours (not to mention other world music, American old time and bluegrass, etc). It is an amazing experience to listen to these artists in an intimate setting and then also have the opportunity to meet them face to face, experiences that can’t be had in the larger venues in Charlottesville.

  7. Charlottesville is a small town that offers more value to make life better than most large cities without the big city price. The restaurants, the music venues, art,education level, spiritual opportunities,living options etc etc
    The Gravity Lounge is one of those factors that make a large contribution to the quality of life. A place that offers enrichment and experience to our children as they are growing and learning and to adults as well-Jazz blues folk rock country bluegrass world beat R&B classical classical rock alternative Latin African Celtic Flamenco Middle eastern poetry plays fundraisers children’s concerts etc etc.
    Unlike a previous post I find it warm and cozy,like a hidden cave where one can find peace and a break from the world. It is definitely wheel chair accessible (beautifully done actually) and so is one of its bathrooms. Actually after reading that post I wondered if the writer had ever actually been there.
    Earlier in life I spent some time living in New York’s famed Greenwich Village with hundreds of art and music offerings every night and day. I remember at that time thinking that I wish Charlottesville could offer more to those who both live and grow up here. Well now with Gravity, the Paramount. JPJ, Old Cabell Hall etc it is doing some of that and doing it well

  8. Please don’t mistake me as a detractor of the Gravity Lounge, Bill, or the music. I have been to many concerts there, and I can see the contributions that Gravity makes to Cville. However, if Gravity is to be a solvent business, the have to find more ways to bring in revenue.

    My impression is that Gravity makes most of the revenue from music shows several nights a week. If the shows aren’t turning profits, then Gravity has to look into other related ways to grow the business, such as food, daytime offerings, etc. I personally think that the place is freezing and uncomfortable for anything other than watching a show. Those things can be changed, and for low cost.

    It’s fantastic that Gravity has helped to build a music community, but the dollars will come from people who don’t know or even much care about music, if they have a reason to come in and stay long enough to buy. Or, perhaps and online business is the way to go. At any rate, there’s no reason to scrap the music programming, but many reasons to expand and retool. I wish them the best.

    Thanks for correcting me about the bathroom. I was thinking of the one in the back left of the listening room has steps.

  9. Since the Prism Coffeehouse shut down, Gravity Lounge is the only place that would book certain acts,like Tom Rush,Jesse Colin Young,Melanie,Odetta,Janis Ian,Tret Fure, and other folk/acoustic/60s era types.
    I believe the DP had an article that said they’d like to clear the debt and then switch over to be a nonprofit(like the Prism).Hope they can pull it off.
    The Lounge is about the closest thing to the 60s coffeehouses( like those in the documentary on Bob Dylan “Don’t Look Back”) we have known. Now I see some don’t like the atmosphere,the surroundings, and I will concede that the “folkie” thing may not be to everyone’s taste. But then some of us don’t like bright,loud nightclubs either.
    I was a regular at the Prism for many years and have memories of some wonderful music and some wonderful times there. The Gravity Lounge helped fill that need when it came along.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love the Paramount-but I just don’t see them booking some of the acts Gravity Lounge did-they are a venue on another level.

  10. Unfortunately, I think the heartfelt intent of Bill Baldwin’s original email has been misconstrued. He specifically states, “I am asking that this email not be forwarded to any lists, media, or press. I don’t want a ‘save gravity’ blip on the radar and I certainly don’t want gravity’s financial woes to be the talk of the town–I hope we can save gravity lounge in the same quiet and reasonably dignified way the place
    evolved.” Some of the recipients felt GL would be better served by expanding Bill’s request for assistance, despite his explicit request not to. I would suggest that the continued talk on the various blogs has been facilitated by those that this email was not originally intended. Those of us who did receive it, and hope to save GL, should follow our conscience and I would suggest we not further contribute to the blogs, but rather contribute in a meaningful way (either directly or through the website) to the financial need of a well deserved venue.

  11. HollowBoy, you and I probably saw each other at the Prism thrity years ago.
    @Shawn Nesbit, the fact that the problems of GL has hit the media can only help. People are more aware of the financial implications having a venue such as GL. Most people don’t think of those things when they come to hear a little music. It just might inspire some to spend more money when they do come. It should also be quite flattering to the owners/sponsors to hear such wonderful comments about GL. It lets them know that their concept is greatly appreciated.
    I’ve never been there but I might come to a peotry reading and spend some money just to help keep the doors open so that people half of my age can enjoy the music.

  12. Cville Eye you sum up one of the GL’s biggest problems: “I’ve never been there but I might.” If you want to keep something like the GL around you have to go and support it with your money and lots of it. there are just way too many other venues for entertainment and better entertainment than the GL offers right here in little ol c’ville. There are only so many entertainment dollars to go around and you want to get the best value you can for your hard earned money. I’m speaking from personal experiences, some of the entertainment might be worth seeing if you have absolutely nothing else to do and are completely bored, other than that I will take my entertainment dollars else where.
    It’s time to let the GL have a dignified passing.

  13. Jogger, you are correct about there being only so many entertainment dollars to go around.
    But what if you like the kind of acts that GL has booked, and no other venue would? It filled a niche, for those of us who prefer Peter,Paul and Mary and their type of music to Justin Timberlake.Jay-Z,and other contemporary “music”.
    Kudos to the Paramount for booking Ralph Stanley, Joan Baez, Emmy Lou Harris, the Indigo Girls,etc. But they are the big acts in their fields- I doubt if they’d book lesser-known acts that only the real aficionados of folk and roots music know.
    Buffy Sainte-Marie, anyone?

  14. Hollow-boy I’m afraid you are the only “real aficionado” left and that is precisely one of the thnigs that is wrong with the GL. Not enough “real aficionado” monetary support. Can the GL count on you for “bail” money to get out of this mess?

  15. Afraid you may be right,Jogger. Not many of us left here. But survived the loss of the Prism, and will survive loss of GL.
    Maybe it would be best if they folded, and something like the Prism came into being.Something that operated along the lines of public radio and TV, that would offer what commercial,for-profit operations did not.
    I remember the Prism struggled a lot at times, especially in the early days. After the 60s folk boom passed,attendance dropped. But through hard work on the part of those who loved it,all volunteers, we kept it going.It was about love of the place, what it had to offer.
    One other little known Prism fact. It was in part the brainchild of some campus ministers who thought there should be an alternative to the fraternity scene that dominated Uva social life at the time(1966). There were no clubs or bars that offered musical entertainment then. The UVa Corner had the Virginian, there were a few other places around town and that was it. Not until the early 1970s when the Mousetrap and Poe’s opened on the Corner was there a place to hear music near UVa other than the Prism.

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