New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
The State House set to reopen Friday
Music venue was shuttered because of COVID-19 for nearly 19 months
NEW HAVEN —
They’re turning the lights back on at The State House music venue at State and Chapel streets this week.
That’s nearly 19 months after owners Slate Ballard and Carlos Wells — along with the owners of most other Connecticut night spots — were forced to close because of COVID-19.
After a few white-knuckle months of trying to negotiate the pandemic with no business coming in, the first show is Friday, featuring Kal Marks, Space Camp and Them Airs.
“It’s a little bit surreal” after a year and a half of being closed, said Wells as he did work to help get the place ready. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride.”
During that period, there’s been a number of times when Wells wondered whether The State House, which opened in the long-vacant former Horowitz Brothers fabric store at 310 State St. in 2018, would ever reopen. The first time he wondered was on March 13, 2020 — the day it was ordered closed.
The State House is one of the last music venues in Greater New Haven to reopen, with that second chance made possible in part by a $116,000 federal Shuttered Venue Operators Grant obtained through the Small Business Administration.
Similar grants have
helped fuel the reopening of a number of other area venues, including Toad’s Place, the College Street Music Hall, the Space Ballroom and Cafe Nine.
But when bars across Connecticut were given the go-ahead to reopen as of May 19, and drinks began to flow as crowds began to flow back into them, The State House remained dark, along with a few other venues, including Toad’s Place at that point.
“I’m excited,” even though “we’re still still in the middle of a pandemic,” said Ballard. But “I think people want to come out and get excited about live music again.”
He called reopening “a mixed bag,” saying, “it’s wonderful in a sense and it’s a little nervewracking. We’re not really sure what to expect.”
Wells said it might still be a few months before The State House can resume bringing in some of the international acts it has previously been known for — many of which were only booked in Connecticut by them.
The State House will comply with the city’s order requiring patrons and employees to wear masks indoors and will require all patrons to show proof of vaccination or the results of a COVID-19 test within the past three days, he said.
Ballard and Wells both praised their landlord, Beacon Communities, for being willing to work with them to iron out issues and help get The State House open again.
“We worked it out,” said Ballard.
“These guys appreciate what we do,” said Wells.
Beacon Senior Property Manager
Romulo Samaniego, who stopped by late Wednesday morning, agreed.
“We are thrilled” to have The State House back, Samaniego said. “We’ve been supportive of them throughout this pandemic time. We understand their plight. We believe in their community initiatives and their importance in the community.”
Having The State House back open in a property that has come to be viewed by some as vacant over the past year — adjacent to a parking lot that’s currently clogged with mountains of uncollected recyclables , “is definitely going to be an enhancement,” Samaniego said.
“We hope their neighbor will cooperate,” he said.
Among the other upcoming shows at The State House are Lil Xan on Saturday; Ladies soul on Oct. 8; Seltzer Fest on Oct. 9; The Most (Return Show) w/ Nikita, Zanders, also on Oct. 9; Vundabar on Oct. 24, and Narrow
Head, Soul Blind and waveform* on Oct. 30.
Tickets for Friday are $10 in advance or $12 day-of-show. Doors open at 7 p.m.