In the Beginning

Once upon a time I owned a mediocre bar.  The upside of that mediocrity was meeting a lot of much-more-than-mediocre people.  One of those, Audrey Schaefer, was the communications director of the 9:30 Club.  Growing up in the DC area, I’d seen more concerts than I could count at the 9:30.  Ironically, one day while meeting with another venue interested in commissioning a music show, I ran into that friend.  It wasn’t a place either of us would normally be, let alone on a random mid-day, mid-week, mid-summer day.  But indeed we were.  When she found out why I was there and sent me a text reading “You can't do a show with them!  You have to do a show with the 9:30 Club!”  About .04 seconds later, I was onboard.  The dream was born. 

Our directive from the 9:30 Club's co-owner, Seth Hurwitz, was simple:  make something unlike anything else on TV, and make sure that our production didn’t diminish the experience for the bands, patrons or staff.  For about two years a ragtag team germinated on ideas, generated pitches, decks, reels and more.  That was the fun part, but how would we fund it?

Enter our great sponsorship representatives, who pounded the pavement for the right partners.  We came awfully close to doing funding deals with companies – big, Fortune 100 companies – that would have been fine, but not perfect.  But then, starting with Squarespace, things started to come to take shape.  Squarespace’s bold commitment to Live at 9:30 was followed in relatively short order by Shinola, Destination DC and the DC Film Office.  The family was complete when Lagunitas – a tasty brew! – came on board.  Working with companies that love music, embrace technology, understand the magic of the 9:30 Club and were willing to take a chance on this very much “Not-Your-Mama’s-PBS show” is a perfect fit, with the perfect partners. 

So, funding in hand, bands on board, and ideas mostly baked, we went to work.  We’ve filmed nearly 60 bands, countless interviews, comedians, b-roll, etc.  We’ve filmed and edited and talked and argued (and made up) and lost sleep, eaten poorly and drank too much, laughed and learned, filmed more, edited more and so on.  In short, we’ve made TV.  And, kind of like making sausage, a lot of different parts get thrown in, grounded up and pumped out.  It’s not always pretty to watch the process, but we’re awfully proud of the end result, and are confident we’ve come up with something tasty.  So please enjoy Live at 9:30 – it’s a phenomenal show, with more people to thank than could ever be contained in a blog, credit roll or otherwise – but I hope that everyone involved – from club staff, to editors, to syndicators, to sponsors and so on – is proud of it, has enjoyed the ride and gets to do it for many more years!  Thanks for the opportunity.      

-Michael Holstein - Executive Producer


Heart and soul of the 9:30 Club

There is a myth about the vein of life, a pipeline of energy that runs through the earth and surfaces in certain places. In those places, people feel connected to something much larger than themselves. It’s also said that in these places we can find people who embody that energy to give us the sense that we have known them our whole lives. They seem to glow and radiate that life force. Josh Burdette, the well-known night manager of the 9:30 Club and one of the most recognizable and beloved faces in Washington’s nightlife, was one of those people.


While his tattoos, piercings, and sheer size made Josh an intimidating figure, his love of music was only matched by his love for music fans. Every person who walked into the 9:30 Club was his guest, and he saw to it that the environment remained safe so that his guests and artists could enjoy themselves. He was known as the thoughtful, centered, and wise spirit of the D.C. music scene.


This reputation is what caused such a shock to ripple through Washington and across the country as musicians and music lovers everywhere mourned Josh’s passing in September 2013.


In a public statement, Seth Hurwitz, owner of the 9:30 Club, described Josh “as 9:30 as 9:30 gets.” To all who saw, met, and knew him, he was the soul of 9:30 for the 16 years he worked there.


Frank Turner memorialized the intense love that he and so many people felt for Josh in a tribute song, Song for Josh. In lieu of properly recording the track in a studio, Turner recorded the song live at the 9:30 Club in June of 2014. It’s rare to have the chance to say goodbye to someone in the space in which that friendship developed and where that person’s spirit remains. It’s easy to imagine Josh there at the 9:30 Club, listening, nodding, and thanking his friend for such a touching and heart-felt salute.


The song, which was featured on Turner's latest album, Positive Songs For Negative People, was released as a limited 7" single, with all proceeds going toward the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention. Currently, the 7" is only available to buy at shows during Turner's current tour, but he tweeted that once the tour is done, the remaining copies will be available to purchase online somewhere.  The October 2015 performance is prominently featured in the second episode of Live at 9:30


Song for Josh painfully and acutely reflects the heartbreaking question that everyone impacted by suicide asks in the aftermath of this inconceivable loss: “Why didn't you call? My phone's always on. Why didn't you call? Before you got gone.” And then it continues to explain the guilt in raw and helpless tones captured in lines like, “And I can't say for certain what I would have done. But I can't do anything now that you're gone. And it kills me to think that for a second you felt alone.”


Josh's passing left many questions but what is certain is that he is remembered, loved, and revered, and always will be as long as the 9:30 Club stands and continues to provide a home for artists and fans to come together to celebrate the power of music. It’s impossible to walk in there and not feel his presence.


Some people are larger than life, and they leave their mark long after they’re gone. 


-Christa Avampato: Associate Producer