The Gospel of the Indie Venue | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

The Gospel of the Indie Venue

Volcanic Theatre Pub featured in new video series highlighting small venues around the U.S.

Maybe you didn't know this, but when touring musicians come to a town, they size up the crowd. In the mountain town of Bend, we've been described as "oxygenated"—fans full of life and vigor who've spent the day trail running or skiing and are now ready to rock.

Or, that's at least how the bluegrass band Hot Buttered Rum described the average Bend crowd in a new video produced by Live Music Society during its show at the Volcanic Theatre Pub. The venue, one of Bend's liveliest and most-booked indoor venues, was recently the recipient of a COVID relief grant from Live Music Society—a nonprofit that supports small, independently run music venues across the U.S.

The Gospel of the Indie Venue
Live Music Society
Hot Buttered Rum plays during its May 7 show—a show that had to be postponed for nearly two years due to the closures affecting indoor entertainment venues, including the Volcanic Theatre Pub.

In addition to the grant funds, Volcanic became the first venue to be introduced in "American Road Trip," LMS' new video series that tells the story of the small independent venues it supports. An LMS video crew was in Bend May 7 to record the show put on by Hot Buttered Rum at VTP—a show that was originally scheduled for 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The return of live music in both indoor and outdoor venues has been a shift from the quieter times of 2020 and 2021. For fans, it's meant time to dust off the dancing shoes. For musicians, it's been a reminder of the need to support the venues that support them.

"Clubs like this are important to the ecosystem of music," said Nat Keefe, vocalist and guitar player for Hot Buttered Rum during an interview in the LMS video. "This is where a lot of the experimentation happens. This is where a lot of mingling happens—you know, of a national touring act with a local act. When we were coming up that's where we met a lot of our heroes, is opening for them at clubs when they were on tour—you get to meet them and maybe play with them and learn from them."

Financial support by way of grants has been a boon during the pandemic, but there's more to support than just that, Sitter shared in the video.

“I certainly think it has painted a great picture for Bend and Volcanic. However, I think it paints a perfect picture of the significance of all small independent venues across the U.S."—Derek Sitter

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"With organizations like Live Music Society looking out for the independent people across the country that do take the time to cultivate and curate artists—you have to take care of these people first. So with the grants—but more importantly, not just the money, it's the support. I know they got our back when we need it," Sitter said.

Sitter also gave a kind of shout-out to the support he's gotten through readers of the Source Weekly in the LMS video, too.

"It just evolved into where the community embraced us as, it's their spot," Sitter said in the video. "It's their place, and from year one—now we're into year... essentially year 10... we've been voted the number one [indoor] music venue in Central Oregon every year."

The first episode of "American Road Trip," featuring Volcanic, debuted on July 13, coinciding with Independent Venue Week in the U.S. So far, the feedback has been more than positive, Sitter told the Source.

"The response has been overwhelming. I certainly think it has painted a great picture for Bend and Volcanic. However, I think it paints a perfect picture of the significance of all small independent venues across the U.S."

The episode featuring Volcanic can be found on the Live Music Society website or at

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. While the pandemic reduced "hobbies" to "aspirations," you can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis. (Progress: slow.)
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