Video No. 5 in the series focused on the plight of Michigan’s closed concert venues showcases Gary and Michelle Hanks’ labor of love in Spring Lake.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part five of the “Comeback Road” video series on the plight of West Michigan concert venues amid COVID-19. Today, filmmakers Michael Whitenack, David Darling and Kari Cohen spotlight Seven Steps Up in Spring Lake. Scroll down to watch the video.
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Converting a 100-year-old Masonic Temple in a small West Michigan town into a successful, fan- and performer-pleasing, acoustically pristine venue has had its challenges for owners Gary and Michelle Hanks over the past nine years.
Still, they rolled into 2020 with high expectations and a full slate of concert bookings.
But in March, the raging COVID-19 pandemic ground live music to a halt, leaving the future in doubt for Spring Lake’s much-beloved Seven Steps Up listening room along with hundreds of other venues across the country.
“It’s hard when your business suddenly goes from its record-breaking projected year to no income,” Gary says of the 132-seat venue that’s welcomed international stars as well as Michigan heroes to its stage.
“We found ourselves in a very precarious position financially,” adds Michelle, “and we really didn’t know what we were going to do.”
But thanks to producing “something special in this room” with energizing performances for capacity crowds, Seven Steps Up has cultivated an intensely loyal base of fans and artists who want to see this unique venue survive.
A GoFundMe campaign launched earlier this year has raised more than $38,000 for Seven Steps Up, and in late October, the listening room landed a grant from the national Live Music Society that will help cover some operating expenses and allow the Hanks to upgrade gear for live-stream concerts.
“That’s how we’ve managed thus far,” Michelle says in the latest edition of the “Comeback Road” video series, crediting the “amazing fans and artists” who’ve helped keep Seven Steps Up afloat.
The Hanks also praised the newly formed National Independent Venue Association, which has lobbied for government funding and provided “emotional support” to concert halls and clubs across the country.
All of it means they’re looking ahead to the days when Seven Steps Up and other shuttered venues can reopen their doors for concerts.
“Music is going to be the most powerful thing to bring communities and individuals back together,” Michelle insists.
VIDEO: ‘Comeback Road’ – Seven Steps Up
To view other “Comeback Road” videos spotlighting The Intersection, The Pyramid Scheme, St. Cecilia Music Center and Tip Top Deluxe: https://localspins.com/?s=comeback+road+video
To contribute to the Seven Steps Up GoFundMe campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/f/savessu
To buy Seven Steps Up merch: https://sevenstepsup.com/products
To assist the National Independent Venue Association and show support for legislation to assist concert venues nationally: https://www.saveourstages.com/
To support Michigan music venues seeking state assistance: https://www.savemistages.com/
Copyright 2020, Spins on Music LLC