The Day the Music Died in the San Luis Valley
By Kathy Bedell © Saguache Today
“With tremendous reluctance we have to suspend our presentation of live music,” announced Villa Grove Trade via their Facebook Page on January 6. The post ignited a firestorm of support for live music in the region and a lot frustration concerning legal choke-holds.
At the root of the decision to no longer provide live performances are threats of lawsuits by The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). “These are music ‘proprietorship’ corporation that claim to represent the rights to all music presented in any fashion to anyone,” explained Villa Grove Trade. “They demand payoffs by any venue, activity or other forms of public music. These “fees” are more than we can afford as a small venue and are non-negotiable.”
For readers unfamiliar, the small roadside town of Villa Grove sits unassumingly at the base of the Sangre de Cristos Mountains in the San Luis Valley. Villa Grove Trade sits at 34094 Highway 285 and touts itself as the General Store since 1882, but also acts as the only grocery, convenience store, as well as a café, specialty coffeehouse, and yes, live music venue! If you’ve traveled around Colorado at all, then chances are you’ve traveled through Villa Grove. And once you see this quaint roadside spot, it’s hard not to stop, and that would be at the Villa Grove Trade!
Villa Grove Trade has been a family owned and operated business since the 1970’s. Jeff & Amber Shook have owned the business since 2002 and run it with their daughter and son-in-law, Jessica & Denny DuBoe.
The owners reported that they would gladly pay their fair share of royalties earned by the publishing artists but they fall below the minimum requirement and therefore would be penalized for being too small. In addition, venue owners receive nothing for those charges, like promotion of events or guide listings. The charges simply prohibit the venues from getting sued for hosting live local music; in the end, it’s Villa Grove Trade that bears the burden not the musicians.
“We have never charged people to enjoy an evening of live music,” posted Villa Grove Trade on their Facebook Page. “Many of them (musicians) have commented to us that this has been one of their favorite places to play.” But on January 6, 2016 was The Day The Music Died in the San Luis Valley.
The owners are trying to figure out what to do and response from the community has been overwhelming:
We’re overwhelmed with the response and support. Thank you all dear friends. This is something we love providing to the community and are saddened and frustrated by these road blocks. We’re trying to figure out our next step. We appreciate your feedback, suggestions, sharing and getting the word out on this matter, and always your support. Thank you from your friends at the Trade.
Villa Grove Trade can be reached at 719-655-2203 or connect with them via their Facebook Page.