State Theater

The past year has seen some very interesting shifts in the local music community. Losing the Big Easy and now Slainte have left a lot of musicians anxious about where they should take their acts, and even more fans dizzy trying to keep up with certain events being relocated (e.g. Wednesday Rap Night currently lives at Asylum – now you know). It’s a different scene nowadays, and Chris Busby of the Bangor Daily News had something to say about it. Unfortunately for him, it is being said that he didn’t have his information in order before he spoke up, and local music messiah Lauren Wayne isn’t taking the erroneous info lightly.

We encourage you to read his post before continuing on.

And then this happened:

“Hi Chris.

I understand that you write a column, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t reach out for alternate views or ignore fact checking on organizations or people about which you are writing. It lowers your integrity and that of the BDN and it reeks of click-bait journalism.

Here are some points I would like to address, unfortunately after the fact since you never called me for comment.

1) The State Theatre and Port Music Hall are run by Crobo LLC. Crobo is a Maine LLC. I run Crobo LLC.

The Bowery Presents and Alex Crothers in VT are partners in the business. The Bowery Presents does not run the State Theatre or PCMH. They don’t book the rooms. I run the company. I am the GM for both rooms. I book both rooms. Every single employee of our company lives in Maine. Regardless, The Bowery and Alex Crothers both have a stellar reputation in this industry as respected promoters who treat people well and who are very engaged in their local communities. They made a very deliberate choice in hiring me to run this company because we all share the same values, and I made a very deliberate choice to stay in Portland to do this kind of work.


2) To address another egregious error in one of your earlier columns and in your latest, the Bowery Presents doesn’t have anything to do with Alive at 5.

The PDD hired the State Theatre to handle the talent buying for two of the events and to redesign the site so that it flows easier and to make it more dynamic. The PDD is not a concert promoter. The organization made a smart decision to reach out to a local company to ensure that the series continued. I made the decision to partner with the PDD because I really want the series to continue and be successful. The State Theatre is not “in control” of the event. The PDD maintains full control of the series. There will be local bands on each of the two events for which we are involved.


3) Port City Music Hall is proud to have local music in our calendar every month.

Since taking over in 2013, we have hosted numerous local album releases, as well as put many locals on stage as support for national touring acts. The State Theatre hosts three major, all-local shows annually – all at an 1870 cap venue. State of the State in July, Beatles night in November and Fogcutters in December. All of which sell well over 1,000 if not sell out completely.


4) The Bowery Presents has nothing to do with Empire.

The State Theatre really has nothing to do with Empire. I am helping to put shows there for the new management, but Empire is fully responsible for its show schedule and running the venue. The Empire shows on our website are to help the room get some much needed exposure and it’s a favor to bands with whom I have a relationship. On a personal level, I am helping Empire management – on my own time – do more local shows and put systems in place for better efficiency. Because I care about the venue, and I think it’s important that small clubs survive for the health of this community. Have you been to a local show at Empire since Todd and Theresa took over, Chris? Have you even looked on the calendar or noticed that 90% of the shows at Empire are local shows? Did you call Todd Bernard for comment?


5) The Big Easy was taken over by the former owner of the Comedy Connection.

…so they are doing mostly comedy. Shocker.


6) As a local business, the State Theatre and Port City Music Hall have a tremendous positive economic impact in this community.

We are happy to help our neighbors and we are happy that our neighbors like to help us. We care about this community. And we make sure musicians get paid.


So you can stop pointing fingers at us. Numerous music venues were created and failed in this town long before we reopened the State Theatre. Empire is doing an average of 12 local shows per month. Spencer Albee and Kyle Gervais have no problem getting 200+ people out a night for their events. AWAAS just played to a packed house over the weekend at Empire. SPACE Gallery is an alternative arts gallery, not a music venue. And when they do host music, the bill usually always includes 1-2 locals on the bill if a national headliner, and the room still does local headliner shows. Blue does a fantastic job. Bayside Bowl has been successful at adding local music to its calendar. The Asylum has been doing both local and national music for a very long time and have created a very sustainable business model. Flask Lounge. Geno’s. Thirsty Pig, Mathew’s. Andy’s Old Port. One Longfellow Square. Mayo Street Arts. Brian Boru, Amigo’s, Bull Feeney’s all do some sort music in their rooms at times.

If local musicians want to be in a band and make music, they form a band and make music. If a band wants to play live, they find a way to play live. Whether it’s a local venue or a warehouse practice space or someone’s living room. They make it happen. And if they want to play out live, then the good ones promote the hell out of their gig so that people know about it and want to go. And they make sure that the venue they are playing is doing the same. That is called running a successful business.

If a business owner can’t keep a business afloat, then the owner needs to take a look at what is wrong with the business internally – and improve on the things that need improving and perhaps move away from the things that aren’t working – instead of shifting blame elsewhere.

Like I said, I know your blog is just a column. But I have worked tremendously hard to get where I am today and I, along with countless others in this town, consistently keep Portland on the map as a viable music market for both nationals and locals because we love this city. So I can’t in good conscious read what you write, and what the BDN subsequently stands behind, and not say anything.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to post this in its entirety, or at least take the time to reach out to me and get the facts before you include us in another of your posts.


Interested in seeing some local music in any one of these fine venues? Check out our events calendar for up-to-date info on what’s happening.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below.

Drop some knowledge.