MEDIUM SIZE MUSICAL MAGIC | Ventura Music Room | New

ON THE PICTURE : Thievery Corporation performing March 24, 2022 at the freshly opened Ventura Music Hall. Photo by Keith Zacharski/In the Barrel Photo

by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

Ventura Music Hall
1888 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura

Discovery in Midtown Ventura aimed to be everything for everyone. Opened at the end of 2013, it offered entertainment for all ages: bowling, table football and shuffleboard; a stage for live music; a full-service bar and restaurant. It was as popular for children’s parties during the day as it was for concerts on weekend evenings. But between the pandemic shutdown and a host of legal issues (co-founder Jeremy Pemberton was arrested for fraud in June 2020), the sprawling space was shut down.

But sometimes challenges give opportunities, because the old bowling alley, etc. came back with vigor and vigor as the Ventura Music Hall.

First-class concerts in small markets

The venue’s revival is courtesy of Ineffable Music Group, an Oakland-based “independent coalition of artists, managers, and promoters” that releases music, hosts music festivals (California Roots Music and Arts Festival is one of the best known) and operates venues across the United States, primarily in California. The Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo, Petaluma’s Mystic Theater and Cornerstone in Berkeley are among the group’s properties.

“You’re going to have a real show, a real concert experience,” says Thomas Cussins, co-founder and president of Ineffable Music. Photo by Daniel Swan

Ineffable Music acquired the Discovery Ventura building during the pandemic and, with the help of Bruce Flohr (Red Light Management) and Mark Geiger (co-founder of Lollapalooza), remodeled it into an all-concert space.

“Our focus is music,” says Thomas Cussins, co-founder and president of Ineffable Music. “We are not party people – we book groups.”

Ventura was the perfect city for Ineffable Music, which was founded in 2006. Specializing in what Cussins describes as “little side markets,” the band’s venues bridge the gap between small, intimate bars and large stadiums and concert halls. . According to Cussins, music lovers shouldn’t need to travel to big cities and pay big bucks to listen to live music.

“You should have really good bands without taking an Uber over $100 in Los Angeles,” he says. Offering food and drink also allows for a complete entertainment experience in one place. “Dinner and a show is always our slogan.”

The Ventura Music Hall shares one thing with the old Discovery: although games and bowling alleys have been removed, it’s still an all-ages venue (at least for most shows). This idea was something Cussis held dear.

“It’s not a bar or a club, it’s a concert hall,” he explains. “We want families to come together to enjoy a show. And teenagers need a safe place to hang out.

At the service of artists and the public

InTheBarrelPhoto – Zacharski–7 (1)

No longer a bowling alley, the Ventura Music Hall is a dedicated concert hall with state-of-the-art equipment, improved acoustics, a large dance floor, and ample seating. Photo by Keith Zacharski/In the Barrel Photo

Turning Discovery into Ventura Music Hall meant a major remodel. A large stage, state-of-the-art sound system (Cusses describes it as “similar to the Greek’s”), lighting and a separate section for the music engineer were installed. The center of the club has a sizable dance floor, surrounded by booths and other seating. A massive C-shaped bar near the entrance lets guests cool off, while food is provided by Ventura-based popup Ruff House BBQ. In total, the venue has a capacity of 635 people, with plenty of room to sit and dance.

Cussins is proud of the quality concert experience that Ventura Music Hall can now offer. “You’re going to have a real show, a real concert experience.” Moreover, it attracts more and more talent. “Any band could come here before they play the Hollywood Bowl and feel comfortable with our gear.”

In fact, since opening in March 2022, Ventura Music Hall has hosted big names, like G. Love and The Juice, Thievery Corporation, Hot Chip, Don Felder, Bob Mould, X. But smaller bands, new venues and local artists (including some tribute bands) have also made their way to the stage. And nearly every genre is represented, from blues and country to rock and reggae and beyond.

“It’s the thought,” says Cussins. “As long as there are good bands that need a home, we’ll be there for them. . . We try to have a diverse range.

Another advantage for groups: a green room with full bathroom and shower.

“You want artists to feel at home,” he says.

“A Lifetime Thing”

One thing Cussins is quick to say about bringing Ineffable Music Group to Ventura County: it’s meant to be a lasting relationship. Cussins even bought a house a few blocks away.

“We’ve been working on this project for about two years now,” he says. “It’s a lifelong thing for us – we’re not looking to make a quick buck.”

To that end, Cussins says he spoke extensively with city officials and local police and listened to residents’ concerns at city council meetings. “It was super important that we spoke to all the players in the community.”

What he learned was that despite some concerns about parking and noise – which he answered with an expanded parking lot and top-notch acoustics that keep the sound inside – everyone seemed to be thirsty. more music, art and entertainment in town.

“There’s a vibrant community that appreciates the arts here in Ventura,” he says. He wants the Ventura Music Hall to be a valuable contributor to such an environment.