The Send Off for The State House

The Final Shows at Your Favorite Local Musician’s Favorite Local Venue


Slate and Carlos were ready. Since announcing that the venue's final show would be May 28, 2023, the co-owners had counted down the days with musicians singing eulogies from the stage, regulars reminiscing at the bar, and community accolades piling up. By the final weekend, hugs and tears, fueled by extra strong drinks (gotta get rid of the alcohol somehow), were bittersweet nightcaps to an epic half-decade run.

Carlos still felt awkward. "It's like when two people leave a party and say bye, but you both end up walking in the same direction." Although the physical being of The State House has closed, the energy, community, and connections it sprouted had already been branching off across New Haven.

The State House was the first venue the co-owners ever operated. Carlos Wells has run Safety Meeting Records since 2002, while Slate Ballard was neither a musician nor involved in the production process – just a fan. They wanted to bring the feel of community spaces that raised them to New Haven, like Arkansas spots Slate haunted before moving to the city 20 years ago and underground gems Carlos discovered after moving here from Bridgeport in 1994.

That pure love for music and community shone through at the venue. The most common adjectives people used to describe State were "comfortable" and "welcoming" – not customary descriptors for places with graffiti-covered bathrooms and sometimes rowdy parking lots. It was a local haven and national stop that hosted a variety of events, including Suicide's Martin Rev, Forgotten Flea vintage markets, and Connecticut-based puppeteers.

Although the venue toughed out the pandemic and navigated shifts in the music scene, State could not survive the ultimate beast: the rapid gentrification of downtown New Haven. The parking lot in front of The State House will turn into apartments, and the former venue's building will become a rec room for its tenants, sporting shiny ellipticals, jumbo TV's, and a juice bar. Our public space will become their private one.

After attending the final weekend of shows and talking to many fans of State, from seasoned musicians to NHV newcomers, it's hard to imagine this sacred space surrendering to a Stairmaster. The final two shows, headlined by The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die and Seeing Sound's The Jam, felt like celebratory funerals. This place, where I've seen both techno-fueled make-outs on a dance floor, to tender moments of friends quietly swaying during acoustic shows, holds so many memories, so many performances, so much history for only half a decade of life.

Alright, but chill out. Carlos and Slate are not dead. While they still need to solidify their new vision, they're scoping out potential spots for a venue or similar community space. They recorded the final shows at State and are considering putting out a compilation album of live sets to raise money for their next venture. Mike Voyce, The State House's lauded and legendary audio engineer, shepherded these recordings. Although he wishes that the "best place he's ever worked" was not closing down, he remains hopeful. "Who says that this closing doesn't lead to something better?"

The greater DIY scene is hopeful, too. Alexandra Burnet, one of the fantastic bartenders of State, likened this transition to the mythological Hydra– when one head is chopped off, two more pop up. Trey Moore, The Jam and Seeing Sounds organizer, has said he's more focused on the future than the past. "Something is happening. I see this less about the closing of the chapter. I get excited when a door closes – another one opens." The NHV music scene is not dissimilar to other local communities across the country, where we all continue to bob and weave the barriers, intent on keeping culture alive. DIY will not die.

The final three shows I saw during State's swan song week (Qween Kong, The World Is, and The Jam) were full of love and celebration. Over the final seven days, I had over thirty interviews with people who reflected on what The State House meant to them, their favorite memories in the space, and what the city needs to feed the ever-hungry music scene.

As I watched the final show, with five saxophones on stage, a flute player, two drum kits, three keys, a bassist, a guitarist, and New Haven legend STOUT singing a soul version of Smells Like Teen Spirit, I did not feel despair but instead hope – a determination to never give up on the power of spaces like this. The State House building has closed, but The State House, the manifestation of all the goodness of the NHV scene, of the people who support live music, of the mutual love this city has for its artists and performers, flows far beyond State Street.

Get all the photos 'n' exclusive content by pre-ordering issue #11 out July 29

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How does it feel to play your last show at The State House?

GILLIAN: Really bittersweet. State House is the first place that hosted Qween Kong when we were first starting out. Our first live show ever was at The State House, and it wasn't that long ago, probably under a year. It's definitely sad to see it go.

How do you think it's evolved since you played here for the first time?

GILLIAN: I feel like people heard more about the scene and heard more about The State House, realize how fucking good the sound was, realize how fucking good the bands are. They were booking more and because of that, I think the shows grew in audience. I think that they were on their way and it's sad to see it go now.

How was it to play up there tonight?

GILLIAN: Bittersweet. It really did, because the sound is so great. Their equipment is great. They really, really care about your sound in the house. They really care about your comfort on stage.

Do you have a memorable show that you saw here?

GILLIAN: Oh, yeah. Yes, I do. My friends who are in Skavs played a show here and a band called Zeta was headlining that night. A lot of them are from Argentina, but right now they're based out of Brooklyn. They were just huge. They were fucking crazy. My friends got on a bill with them, so we had no previous knowledge of them. When I saw them, it was a euphoric experience to a point where I was shocked how good they were. It was one of the best live performances I've ever seen in my entire life. It was incredible. And I was just a huge fan right off the bat. The drummer was crazy.

What does New Haven need post-State House?

GILLIAN: That's a good question. That's a really good question. New Haven needs a lively DIY scene. It has a DIY scene, it does, but it varies based on the year because younger people, people like us in Gen Z, have a vacuum to fill. There will always be people in the new generation that feel the need to fill them. That's why I think the DIY scene came to life this spring. I just put faith in the fact that like there's a vacuum and it will naturally get filled. I love playing house shows, I love playing DIY. I fucking love it.

It's very raw, I feel like I was made to do it. I think that people get out of the DIY scene after a while, they get older or their careers take off or whatever the case may be, so they forget the importance of a DIY scene and how important it felt when you were new to the scene. You meet people who couldn’t get booked at Cafe Nine or State House. You meet people that have true talent, but not even just talent, but true character.

What’s Qween Kong post-State House?

GILLIAN: Our comfort bars were Cafe Nine and State House, this venue is right where we had our start. Even though it's unfortunate, it's kind of kismet that things change to push you in different directions. Because of that, we're just branching out naturally because of the need. As a band in New Haven, you have to adapt.

It’s a call for creativity.

GILLIAN: It’s a call for creativity, but it's also a call for DIY spots to pop up. I have so much faith in Gen Z, like I am fucking Gen Z and I love Gen Z because I have so much fucking faith in us that we will fill the void because it’s a need.

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How does it feel to be at one of the final shows at The State House?

SANI: It's really depressing because I live right near here and I can walk here from my house in Wooster Square. So it's one of the few venues I can walk to. When there are shows here it's really fun. It’s really depressing they’re turning this into something else. I don’t want to lose this part of New Haven.

How would you describe the crowd tonight?

SANI: Everyone was really hyped up and ready to go, really supporting the band. It felt like a big community out here supporting everyone.

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What was it like to play here?

ALEX: It was pretty exhilarating. It was one of our one of my band's first venues outside of just small DIY venues. It was like a bit of a big change, but it was pretty awesome. I love to hear the sound, it was always amazing. The people were always very sweet and very welcoming. It was definitely one of my favorite places in Connecticut.

Qween Kong

May 19, 2023

The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die

May 27, 2023

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What’s your impression of The State House?
GARRETT: This is my first time at this venue, I moved here about six months ago.

GARRETT: Thank you, it sucks this is going to be gone. I don't know what's going to be put here. I just hope it's not more luxury apartments.

That’s exactly what’s going here.
GARRETT: That's a bummer.

Where did you live before?
GARRETT: I've lived in a couple of places. I lived in Saratoga before here, and before that I lived in Rochester, New York. And I grew up in New Jersey.

What was the punk scene like in New York State?
GARRETT: Rochester was kind of cool. It wasn't really cool. So far, New Haven's the best, I'd say. They had one venue that was kind of like Cafe Nine, where they just had a lot of random bands come in and do whatever they had. But I like Cafe Nine better than that at that venue in Rochester. Oh, Jersey was weird. It was just like random venues.

What are your hopes and dreams for this concert?
GARRETT: I hope that people move because so far, almost every show I’ve been to here hasn’t had a lot of movement.

[There was a lot of moshing at this concert, Garrett was deep in the pit]

.•° ✿ °•.

Why are you here?
KAI: To listen to some cool bands and also to be of the final shows of The State House.

What are your hopes and dreams for tonight?
KAI: Really jam, get sweaty. It's looking pretty packed in here, so I think both of those things are going to happen.

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Why are you here?
BRANDON: I’m running this show in New Haven with Tiny Box Booking.

Why did you put the show together?
BRANDON: It is the last weekend of The State House, and I wanted to do something special for them.

What has The State House meant for you?
BRANDON: State House is one of the state's only independent venues where no matter what size band you are, where you come from, the person you are, it's inclusive, it's accepting, It's overall a wonderful place to be. Yeah, I'm very happy.

What is Connecticut post-State House?
BRANDON: It’s definitely going to be different, but over the course of the three decades that I’ve been here, it’s always had ups and downs. I think we're going to be fine. There's a bunch of different venues and a bunch of different venues of people who are really excited to pick up after The State House.

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The Jam

May 28, 2023

Why did you decide to open up The State House with Los?
SLATE: We wanted to create a space for our community to come together.

Did you have a venue before this one?

SLATE: No, I was actually the owner of The Grove, which is a coworking space in the same building. So as the Grove transitioned out, The State House transitioned in, and we've been running the space ever since then.

What's your plan after The State House?

SLATE: We don't know yet. We're kind of looking at different options, keeping our eyes open for things, but we have no idea what's next. We've talked a lot to different people and continue to talk to people about potential options for other types of spaces. It may not be a venue. It may be just a space for music.

Were you a musician before opening this venue?
SLATE: I have never been a musician. Los and I are actually both not musicians, we’re just music lovers. Los has a record label, and I was just a guy on the scene, not even in the scene as much as Carlos.

Do you have a favorite show that you had here?

SLATE: My gosh. I mean, The Jam is probably my favorite. I don't know. It's just seen so many amazing things and it's hard to say and so many great community events and so many great different communities have gathered here. That's the real power of the bands, right?

Do you have any silly memories from here?

SLATE: Carlos and I built this freaking high deck here, really speedy fast. We had to. It was also pretty amazing when we tore the roof off the place at one point.


SLATE: Yeah, we had to get a whole new roof before we started. They ripped the roof off to replace it.

How are you feeling now that it’s the final show?

LOS: It's a little surreal. It feels like the lead up this whole past month has been like, this is the last sweat dance party or the last hip hop indie night. There's been endless serenades from the stage and goodbyes and awkwardness.

LOS: I’m not good at getting a lot of attention, so it’s a little awkward when someone from the stage is like, give it up for Carlos! And 250 turn their heads at you and you’re like, “hey!”

Yeah, you’re running a record label yeah?
LOS: I run Safety Meeting Records since 2002. Mostly psychedelic music and stuff like that from the area, and then we started working with some international artists. Always small press run vinyl. I've never made any CDs, didn't really care about the digital, so that's pretty much it.

Based in New Haven?

LOS: Yup.

How long have both of you lived in New Haven?
SLATE: 20 years.
LOS: Since ‘94.

How have you seen New Haven change over the decades?

LOS: It’s significant. When I first came to this area, I was around 20 years old and I went to a house party by Trinity, and I ran into a substitute teacher from my high school and started talking about movies and they were like, “we’re going to Cafe 9!” And that was back when Mike Reichbart still owned it and it had all the booths. We walked from Trinity to Café 9, and there were just tumbleweeds and abandoned buildings.

Did you both grow up in New Haven?

LOS: I'm from Bridgeport.

SLATE: I’m from Arkansas. A buddy and I moved up here together.

How is Connecticut different from Arkansas?
SLATE: It’s really different. But George's Majestic Lounge down in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was a place I grew up going to as a kid, a local music venue down there, and that was a huge space for me.

In what way?

SLATE: Just the community, a sort of a multi-generational community of folks going out to see music and dance and have a great time.

What made you decide to open up The State House?

LOS: It was the room.

SLATE: It was the room for sure. Broken Umbrella Theater Company was doing a pop up theater thing in here during Arts and Ideas Festival way back in the day, and I was when I was running The Grove over here. And you can walk in through the basement to get to Chapel Street from here, and that was part of the theater thing. You came up on Chapel and went into the basement, and walked up into the production.

Does that tunnel still exist?

SLATE: Yeah, and that's when I saw the room. I was like, this place is amazing.

LOS: We had a friend in common, Eric Tate, who was an engineer at Firehouse 12 when I was a bartender there, and he kind of roped me in. He was like, “you gotta check out this room and meet my friend Slate.” I had been talking about music venues for a long time because when I was putting out our records, I was also promoting shows. I used to book at the old Rudy’s and over at Cafe 9, various basements and half illegal places. So I came over here and the potential was very obvious. Just the shape of the room alone. I love the idea that there is finally a venue where it's wider than it is longer. So you can stack the crowd around the stage as opposed to like if you're a short person showing up at the last minute, you’re out of luck.

What will happen to the building?

LOS: We were told it's going to be a clubhouse space for the tenants. So a treadmill, a big screen TV, an elliptical, that sort of thing. It'll be a part of the apartment building. The bar now might be more of a juice bar.

Are you looking at new spots?

LOS: We're just keeping our options open. So far, the only concrete plan that we have is we've recorded like a good portion of all the shows, so now we want to delve in there, try to get permissions and produce compilations. It's kind of like a fundraiser without just asking people just to give.

What do you want the legacy of The State House to be?

LOS: I don't know if I have any wants for anybody to remember it in such a fashion. I just kind of want them to remember it fondly, whatever great memories you pull out of here. There've been a lot of people who told us stuff like, I've met all my bandmates here, I met my wife here, I had some of the best times here.

Do you have any favorite memories in the space?
LOS: It depends on the time of day, really. My favorite memories change, there have been so many ridiculous dance parties, unbelievably cute moments. We did the School of Rock concert here and watching a bunch of seven year olds do Stevie Wonder songs, it was great.

Now that it’s the final night, what are you going to do tomorrow?
SLATE: I’m going to a barbecue.
LOS: I’m going to sleep in and go for a bike ride. It’s been a marathon for the last couple of weeks. Normally I work one shift a week, since I’m an older dude now. But now it’s like every night.

Anything else you want to share on your final day?

LOS: Thank you.

SLATE: Yeah, just gratitude for all the promoters we worked with and the community.

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I feel like the most popular thing people said about The State House is how great the sound is here.

MIKE (audio engineer): This is easily my favorite venue I've ever worked at. I mean, one, the sound here is great. It allows me to bring openness and power to it, where we can make things as loud as we need to be. We can make things quiet enough where you can hear things like a drop of a pen. And I mean, with me being the person here, just having access to the place like I've been able to practice and hone in on what the room needs. I like to think at least, without being too biased.

It’s true.

MIKE: It's hard to make the sound not sound good in here. Also the booking agents here do a good job of filling the place out with good talent. It's also easy to make stuff that already sounds good sound better. It has so much more than this room needs, it’s actually overpowered. We’ve actually blown the power here once. It happened two months ago and was the last song of the last set. But you know, it’s been great. Just the flexibility here allows me to work on so many different types of genres that I wouldn't normally be able to because there are a lot of other bars here. It's like you'll have your rock bars or your jam bars, but this place kind of caters to just about anyone that wants to put an event on here.

It’s big enough and small enough, a room where it caters to the local sense that I grew up in, while still having international acts. It really gives you a taste of everything.

What are you planning to do after The State House?

MATT: I’m not stopping doing live sound. I've got gigs lined up for the foreseeable couple of months. Hopefully we can create another iteration of this or something that captures something the essence that this place has been, but I mean, concerts aren't going to stop for the formidable future, knock on wood. I just plan to keep on truckin. The industry's always going to push you back and forth. But as long as you stick with it, I mean, opportunity is what it is, experience plus luck or whatever the hell that is.

Do you have a favorite show from here?

MATT: If it's a show I played here, is that biased? I mean, The Jam has to be one of them. Actually, one of the more recent ones stuck out. Any time Ceschi comes here, he puts on a great show. But the last time he was here, he was with his band, the Anonymous Inc band, and they actually played one of my first few shows working here in 2019 where he sold the place out. It was the first time I saw a rap folk artist play with a xylophone player. And there wree only like four or five members of the band, but the instrumentation was so weird and different.

How are you going to feel going into doing sound for the final show here? How are you feeling?

MATT: Big happy-sad, that's probably the best way to go. It's bittersweet, it's going to be a great show, but last night tearing down the stage for last time, knowing it's not going to go back up, it definitely hurts a little bit. But I mean, hey, this place was great. The State House as a location is gone, but The State House as a people, we’re still around. That’s not going anywhere, we’re going to continue being The State House regardless of where the location is.

One thing that's fun is that we have to clear out all the alcohol here before it's gone. So that provides a fun, maybe dangerous challenge. But I think that our crew and our audience are up for the challenge.

What’s your advice to other people who do sound?

MATT: It can be a very frustrating job, its a high stress job. The point of our job is to be a problem solver, not someone that complains about an issue that comes up. When the issue comes up, the best thing we can do is stay calm and just deal with it. Just be patient and just know what you're doing. Be confident that you have the ability to know what you're doing to make it sound good and that all your patching and routing because that's all you really need. As long as you take it slow and know that, then you're going to be golden.

What are your hopes and dreams for tonight?

MATT: I kind of hope it just doesn't end. I hope it becomes a conundrum where it just doesn’t go back 11:59pm and we just do it forever. That’s my dream. But it’s going to go great regardless.

Any final thoughts on The State House?
MATT: It’s been the best place I’ve got to work. Best staff, best boss, best system. It’s a real shame, if only there was a better reason for why this is going away. But regardless, whatever the reason may be, things change. It's the only constant we got. I think this is all just in the past. Who says that this closing doesn't lead to something better?

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How does it feel to be organizing the final show at The State House?
TREY: It's cool because for me personally, I kind of got my start playing consistently here.

What do you play?

TREY: I play a bunch of stuff. I compose music, I perform, but this match here feels good, it’s been a real community space for us. It’s kind of bittersweet, but it’s high energy right now because I want that. It hasn’t hit me that this is the last time that we’ll be playing here, but it’s cool. It feels more like a celebration than like anything.

Do you have a favorite moment of organizing shows here?

TREY: Oh, definitely. Maybe like the second or third jam that we did here. It was special. Just felt good, it was my first headlining show here.

How are you going to organize shows after State House?

TREY: For me, personally, I have a thing called Seeing Sounds, and I have a festival and all that. But we don’t plan to stop this relationship we have with State House. It’s going to be one of those things that keeps going no matter what. I don't think the physical building defining our relationship and what this means to the community or me. It's still going to keep going, one way or another.

How will you remember The State House?

TREY: This was an affirming space. There are so many thousands of people in a community who don't really have space to do their thing or to get their start or to play consistently. The State House has been there for a lot of people, including myself, and I think they do have a good legacy. Whatever the next thing is, I think the energy around what was here is good. I think it's engraved in people's minds that way.

Any final thoughts?

TREY: The future. There’s a future. There’s something happening. I think it's less about the closing of the chapter. I personally I get excited about whenever there's one door closing, there's another door opening.

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ALEXANDRA (Bartender at State House for three years): The New Haven music scene is like Hydra, you cut off the head and three more grow back. That’s how it always happens, after twelve years here.. that’s how it always happens. That’s why I’ve been here for twelve years. I’ve seen so many places stop doing shows and new places pop up. That’s how it goes.

I grew up in Tribeca. My parents were artists so I grew up there in the eighties and nineties. I remember my parents talking at the dining room table. The dining room table, of course, being a sweet way of saying we had a table in the middle of a giant working art studio that we ate dinner at, with cot sheets hung from the ceiling kind of dividers. Very communal. All the grownups would talk about how it's going to be great, we're going to live here as artists, it's going to be super cool, and then in a year we're all going to be gone because we can't afford to live here anymore.

That was my first experience of gentrification and this is nothing different. But if the history as I’ve seen it unfold is any indication, we have great things to look forward to. This will be a “you should have been there when…”, a pleasant memory.

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You work the door?
DUSTIN: Yes, I do.

How’s been working the door?

DUSTIN: It's an incredible experience. I look at doing door a little differently than everyone else. I feel the party starts when you walk in, so I have more of a personality. I treat it almost like a ringmaster, like a cabaret. Welcome, bienvenue!

I like having conversations with people because there are some people who will come in and be like, I don't really drink, this is the first time out since I’ve been clean and sober. I say, feel free to come back over here, hang out with me, I don't drink until my shift is over, so you'll have a safe spot. That has been some of the nice and most incredible things to happen here. And watching the incredible art that happens here and being the most diverse venue. One week I worked here, there was a klezmer music night, which is traditional Yiddish music. There was a punk rock drag show, a Steve Rogers release party, and then indie rock acoustic the following week after that. There are puppet shows – it's amazing. This was an incredible place to fully understand yourself and continue to challenge standards.

How long have you been doing door here?

DUSTIN: I answered a Facebook thing two Novembers ago.

What are you doing post-State House?

DUSTIN: My five year plan is that I’ll have a venue. The community really needs a venue and there will be a vacuum once this place is gone. I don't think the city knows how much it really needs it until this happened.

How long have you lived here?

DUSTIN: Nine years.

How have you seen the city change?
DUSTIN: I come from Long Island, which is spread out. So you have to drive 30 minutes to get to a venue, so you're not seeing as many different things. So when I first came out here, it was one of the most incredible things just to see the tightness of the music community scene and the amazing talent out here. They’re humans you know, you can sit, you can talk and you can go get pizza with Ceschi, you know what I mean?

You don't see that everywhere. And that's one of the things about being out here, and how diverse the community is, coming from the suburbs aspect of it. You know, there's a bunch of mosques, there's a whole bunch of synagogues, there's different churches all within walking distance. And there's a beauty to it, that's what I love about New Haven.

Do you have a favorite show you saw here?

DUSTIN: There's a whole bunch of them, the list will go on and on and on. But I have to say, any time Ceschi has performed in this place, it almost becomes like a religious experience. The way that he captivates the crowd. And also like being someone who, as a musician, being able to see someone you can talk to and be like taking notes on how they're doing things is really just one of the most incredible experiences out there.

One of the most incredible experiences was seeing Martin from Suicide play here. He makes some of the most incredible dark music, but also a classically trained pianist, so we didn't know exactly what to expect. He's up there in super tight, shiny mirror pants, and he’s an older gentleman. Then he just kind of smacks the keyboard the whole time to the point where myself and the sound guys are like, Are we getting punked right now? Is this when Nick Cannon runs out?

To sort of quote Hunter S. Thompson, this industry is full of snakes, liars, cheats, prostitutes and pimps. And there's a downside. There's an incredible piece of humanity here. It’s the fact that everyone who works here is somewhat into the music scene, is a musician themselves, and we treat them like you would want to be treated. This is a family.

Anything else you want to add?

Art is super important and it's risky. It makes people feel uncomfortable and that's what it should do. To have a place where it can be celebrated is super important, but you don't have to go out to celebrate. Check out your local scene and create a local scene playlist. Engage, share your friends' stuff out there.

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How does it feel to be at the last State House show?
BABZ: I don’t like it, because I think this is a cool, groovy space and it fills the need between big venues and tiny living room spaces. This is bigger than Cafe Nine, but smaller than College Street. There is a need for that in-between space for people to hang. Good music, hanging out, good vibes. I just hope that they reconsider another space and trick it out in the same way. That's what I hope because it came at a time when nobody was thinking about this kind of vibe. This is still their time. All I want to see is them opening a new venue. The last time I was here, I was recovering from a hip surgery, so it feels bittersweet to finally feel better to fully move for their final show.

I know some of these musicians. I dig them and I just want to support this cool place. We got to keep coolness going. People got to support. I'm a fan of Paul Bryant Hudson. He was a visionary for artists and songs, all the cats play with him. I was here for Nick de Maria with the big band Orchestra, so I saw them and they were like to see all those musicians on stage playing big music. I don't have to go to Radio City Music Hall to get big bands, it was right here with cats that I know.

What do you think New Haven needs post-State House?

BABZ: I hope that they re-imagine this concept somewhere else. It’s just like how the phoenix rises from the ashes. Clearly people dig it. There's so much apartment building going on, which I think is a little tragic for the city. It's changing the look and feel of our city. It doesn't mean that I don't want people to come here and feel the vibe, but I just feel like places like this have to have spaces to exist. We can't out develop cool spaces. We can help develop the cool, quirky warehouse kind of spaces

Anything else you want to add about The State House?

BABZ: I love it. I think that brother had a great vision and a great concept. I hope he doesn't get jaded. I feel like this is the end, but I hope he is inspired to re-imagine this again somewhere else because it is a necessary and needed entity in the city.

.•° ✿ °•.

How does it feel to be playing the final show?
DEREK: It feels good. This is the second time that I'm playing here. I was here a few months ago for a show. It was like a triple or quadruple header, and both times it was with my brother Wesley over there and his band. So I'm just playing keys for it. Feels good. It's exciting. It's nice to be a part of this. I'm sad that it's going to go.

Have you seen other shows at The State House before?

DEREK: Just the two that I've played on. I don't live in Connecticut, I live in New York City in Harlem. I was going to school there and just graduated. But I come to Connecticut fairly often to play with my brother because he's here. All the music I've seen here has been great. It seems like a really nice spot and a lot of people come out and enjoy themselves, so any time that a piece of the music community in an area is removed, it's an emotional thing. It feels good to be a part of it, but again, I'm definitely disappointed that this is the end. Hopefully the people that are here get to enjoy it.

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How does it feel to be playing the final show?
WESLEY: Final show… it feels really good. I feel like I've snuck my way into The Jam, maybe six months ago, eight months ago… actually, probably almost a year ago now. I was brought here by friends who knew Paul and I just brought my saxophone and ended up sitting and having a great time. It feels great to be featured, to be asked to come up and perform some of our own music for the first time. That setup has never really occurred here before, having multiple acts interspersed within this framework.

What exactly is the framework?
WESLEY: The Jam is usually like a bunch of really good friends, but also like professional musicians around New Haven who typically play soul music, R&B, and some jazz. The musicians get together to create an improvised set that includes a lot of music that has sort of similar tunes, like that same book of gospel, R&B, and soul standards. It’s an opportunity to put together as much as New Haven can offer in terms of jazz musicians, in terms of this type of music community.

How will you remember The State House?
WESLEY: I feel like all of the shows that I've been a part of here have been so closely associated with the band, with the community. I've been to concerts here where it almost feels like a comedy show, there's banter. People are talking to individual audience members, and that always feels really special. It just feels like more of a home and a conversation to go to a concert here than other venues in New Haven. And hopefully there will be room for that kind of thing. Now that this is gone, we'll find other places to convene.

How do you envision New Haven post State House for you as a musician?
WESLEY: I like Cafe Nine a lot. I play a lot of jazz music, so the New Haven Jazz Underground puts together a lot of shows centered around Cafe Nine and Three Sheets. And then aside from that, I like College Street, Space Ballroom. I really enjoy the other venues in New Haven, but I don't know if there is another place that can support this type of atmosphere. I know that everybody here who is putting together The Jam, and Jeremiah especially, are really intent on finding a new space that can host this type of club. I'm just keeping this going as much as we can. I think a lot of it is about finding somewhere that has the space and the capacity for what we want to do.

Any other final thoughts?
WESLEY: There's a mirror in the green room that is really large and pretty. My one thought I had when coming here today was that I really want that mirror. I’m going to try to figure out who is the right person to talk to tonight.

Talk to Los, the guy with the glasses.
WESLEY: All right. I will actually go talk to him about that, thanks.

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How does it feel to be at the last State House show?
ANDWELLE: Wow, it's bittersweet. It's been impacting the community for a while now, a lot of old friends here, good memories.

What are your memories here?
ANDWELLE: Epic jazz, incredible musicians, interracial relations, a lot of people from different backgrounds come together and have a free space to enjoy music.

How can other venues in New Haven fill this vacuum?
ANDWELLE: As a musician, first and foremost, great sound. Their sound is compatible with the type of stuff we like to do. It's a really big sound.

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How does it feel to be here right now?
MATTY: We didn't know this was the final show before coming here.

MILES: It’s a little unreal being someone who has only gone to one other State House concert. I feel like I’m in a special place, almost having a little imposter syndrome. It’s like going to the last show of a famous artist but only being a recent fan of them. I feel the sadness of it, but it's hard to really read what other people are feeling around me because I'm so new to this type of State House lifestyle.

What are your hopes and dreams for this show?
MATTY: I hope it goes kind of hard. I mean, if this is it, I’m excited to see the crowd. There’s no way it could not be a good show.

Any final thoughts?
MATTY: I'm anxious, I’m excited. I feel good.

MILES: I love the bar here, that’s the final thought.

Why do you love the bar here?
MILES: It's a tiny nook in the corner, but it's so it's still part of the event area. It's not like it's another room where some events are. It just feels like it's all connected.

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How does it feel to play at the final State House show?
CLIFF: It’s bittersweet, but it’s really beautiful to be playing with people that I've known for a long time, some new folks. The energy feels really good.

How will you remember The State House?
CLIFF: The venue always brought eclectic groups, hidden gems, and opened up my eyes to certain things. It's just made the city cooler.

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How does it feel to be at the last State House show?
BRIANNA: I've come here so often. I’ve left my heart here on the dance floor and connected with so many people. I've always seen the best shows here, the coolest artists. I feel like the city is going to be different without this space. But nonetheless, it feels amazing to be here with so many people that I love and adore.

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How does it feel to be at the final State House show?
OWEN: It's a little emotional, but I think the music's great. The vibes are great. There's a lot of people here for Sunday.

What was your favorite show here?
OWEN: I think it's the most recent one I went to, besides this one, with Killer Kin and The Tines. I did miss Ángel Loor opening for that show, unfortunately, but The Tines were on point, Killer Kin was on point. It was a great night, I got to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen in awhile.

How do you think The State House will be remembered?
OWEN: State House… oh boy. It’ll be remembered as a place filled with memories and soon to be filled with workout equipment.

What do you think New Haven needs after The State House?
OWEN: Another goddamn venue.

What about the venue? What makes State House unique?
OWEN: Great sound, nice room and great bands coming through. So many good bands played State House. What are we going to do without it?

Any other final thoughts on The State House?
OWEN: Rest in Peace State House, but not forever, right? Maybe there'll be another one someday.

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How does it feel to be at the final State House show?
JISU: It feels wild, the energy in this room is palpable. You can feel the emotions. Even in the joy you can feel the depth of all these years. People think about the first shows they've had here, the first shows they've been to here, and you can feel the love. Someone said the drinks are strong, maybe because they're trying to get rid of all the alcohol that they have in the back. I don't know, but whatever it is you can feel it.

Best show here?
JISU: Oh my God! Oh, my God, okay. There was a show. It was this year. It was Angel Loor, Esmer, it was someone I see here on saxophone who was here with curly hair and earrings. It was a very beautiful show, and what stuck out to me about that show was that I was seeing someone perform for the first time. It was my first time seeing Justin Esmer, and I was so captivated by it, and I was there with someone and there was one line from it that just hit me really hard. And my friend, the person I came there, was like, You want to go close to the front? I was like, You go, I'll hang back a little bit. I hung back, and I just cried. And now Esmer and I send each other verses every day. So, you know, the friendships that form from a place like this are wild, beautiful.

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How does it feel to organize the last show at The State House?
PAUL: I got all the feels. I’m really grateful for the run, for the energy that was fostered and sort of sprouted from this space. I’m feeling deep gratitude for all the artists who created this space, the institution, The Jam itself, is really special. From the very beginning, we always had artists and musicians at the center of that experience, and I feel like the community, both artists and non artists alike, have made that a real band. So I'm feeling deep gratitude for being able to choose to be a part of a community like that and good feelings, while also deep grief and a sense of loss. There are very few spaces that are committed to creatives and artists.

Any words to describe State House?
PAUL: It’s been home. It’s been cozy. It’s been cozy in that it feels safe. At it’s a foundation, it’s practices and philosophy around how to do a creative economy well and value and honor creative spirits, and how to be a part of the community that’s not extractive. It’s done so in a way to contributes to the health and wellbeing of artists. It’s been cozy and safe in that sense.

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How has the show been going?
RUBY: It's amazing, think some of the most impactful performances, experiences and events, are artist centered or related, are the strongest. The strongest and most impactful events are artist lead and artist centered. When you make things purposefully for artists and center the needs of artists, that’s the most impactful for community, because we are the community. For us, by us. And The Jam is a perfect example of that, and why it’s so successful.

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What has State House been to you?
MICHAEL: The State House has been a place that New Haven artists and community can assemble downtown that is on their terms and very much for them.

How have you worked with The State House?
MICHAEL: I’m trying to figure out how much this is like a man in the crowd as compared to my day job role.

MICHAEL: So I've actually been lucky enough to be working for an organization called CT Next, which puts state bonding dollars into projects that support innovation and entrepreneurship. And six years ago, this was one of the first projects that we worked on. So at the time there was a community of folks that were looking for a type of space, and there was this overlap between the types of space that artists like that are performing right now were looking for, and entrepreneurs who are working at the time at the Grove. And this was an unused space that the Broken Umbrella Theater did, which was an improv group in New Haven. But otherwise, then that little pop up, it's been fallow for a long time, and so CT Net Innovation Places Grant fixed upa nd made possible the improvements to the roof that made this space a permeable, long term, usable space. Since then, there's been a series of networking events, fireside chats, but also a whole lot of music that's happened here.

As far as my own story of connection to the space, I met and connected with my girlfriend when her company launched out of this space on stage. Years later, she threw a surprise birthday party that included a performance from a New Haven band on the stage. Several dear friends are performing tonight as part of the Jam, and this is a uniquely community-connected living room for a lot of different communities that don't otherwise have a space downtown. And that has been really what I like to see happen. So I think that long term this community needs other spaces in order to continue convening and doing like the art that they do.

It has been really special that the space has been able to exist in a rapidly changing downtown space. We desperately need that housing is going to be coming in here, we desperately need a lot of businesses that are going to be bringing jobs, but at the same time, we need to make sure that these communities can continue meeting and making art and building the kind of city that is the reason that people are wanting to move into the apartments that are being built. And using the cultural assets that we have from our community are leading that appeal. That is incredibly important to like economic development writ large, but also maintaining the talents that are going to be driving new company formation and supporting that talent coming from our communities like throughout this.

The other side of the railroad's a whole bunch of new apartments, in five years the other side of the street, within a year or two, this is going to be new apartments. A lot of people are coming to New Haven and ensuring that there are still spaces for community and community based artists to be performing is incredibly important. And that in the midst of all of the transformation, purchase of everything that's two blocks from here that happened in the last three years, the fact that this space has managed to exist in this changing moment is a really precious and beautiful thing.

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Do you have a favorite memory?
CAITLIN: Someone named Moonshot had a play here, she was the only person who put on a play here. She performed her play here. After she was done and I was outside, she gave me a hug and said, “I did it, I did it, I finally did it.” It's a lot of work for someone who is a playwright, someone who is putting a production together, they've given their heart. That's really been evident in the kinds of productions that we've done and the relationships that we've built with these people. I’m now the bar manager at the Ridgefield Play House, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the Connecticut music scene will grow.

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How does it feel to be at the last show?
KEVIN: It feels special. It's something that I didn't think I'd be a part of.

How was playing here with Angel Loor?
KEVIN: It’s my favorite venue. Any time that I've played here, the sound has been perfect. The stage is immaculate and the crowds are always with it. It's for the locals, it’s why I appreciate this space.

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Show’s almost over.
OWEN: I redact everything I said before, The Jam on 5/28, last show at State House, it’s been the best show that’s ever happened.

OWEN: The energy has been unmatched. The people are going to be working out in this goddamn room wondering what the fuck they're feeling. And it's this goddamn energy.

Get all the photos 'n a whole lot more by reading the article in our next issue, #11! Pre-order here.