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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Groundworks provides a safe space for youth and young musicians

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Andrew Mourelatos
Groundworks’ The First Show shows provide young musicians to get their footing in the local Tucson music scene.

When entering the venue, on your right you’ll find an art gallery room with beautiful art from local artists for sale. On your left is where the musical magic happens. Whichever way you go in the building, artwork lines the walls. In the venue room, all four walls are painted or decorated with something to express the individuality and creativity that is Groundworks.

Groundworks has become home to many musical and artistic youths that never had a place to represent themselves in Tucson. Located at 2919 E. Grant Road, Groundworks is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that functions as a concert venue, art gallery and teaching environment. The venue officially opened in 2021 and climbed all the way to its first sold out show on April 12, 2023.

Getting to that sold out show night wasn’t easy. Groundworks started out as a nonprofit in 2019, then started to fundraise with the intent of opening a building in 2020. The original grand opening was set for April 2020 and was canceled due to the pandemic. Finally at the end of 2021, the place opened where it currently resides.

Logan Greene, one of the Groundworks founders, noticed there wasn’t a place in Tucson that was specifically created for the creative youth. Growing up, there was a place called Scrappy’s that was a youth friendly venue that inspired Greene; in addition, while touring as a musician Greene has come across The Trunk Space in Phoenix and The Holland Project in Reno, Nevada.

“We noticed that there weren’t spaces in Tucson at the time we wanted to do it [open Groundworks] that were safe for all ages and that we felt were really meant for youth specifically, and not just bars that allowed youth to be there,” Greene said. 

Since Greene didn’t specifically go to school for nonprofit business management like some people, he had to take the time to do the necessary research. “I was absolutely determined to make it successful, it was all of my being. I was working a full time job teaching and any break I had or any free time I had I would just be looking at the city code for occupancy and stuff like that,” Greene said. 

After taking the time to build a team, Groundworks has created a foundation of volunteers who have learned how to put on and manage shows, which takes some of the weight off of Greene’s back. Volunteer and sound engineer Nico Esparza volunteered at Groundworks for a little over a year before he was running behind the scenes at concerts. 

“It’s fun, you get to see shows for free and you meet a lot of people in the music scene which has been really great for me as a volunteer and a musician who’s in a few bands. It’s a really great place to make music foundations. I’ve made a lot of friends at Groundworks,” Esparza said. 

Jonah Lamont performs as The Jonah Show at Groundworks. By Andrew Mourelatos

Like many artists, Jonah Lamont got his start on his music project at Groundworks. Lamont created his first solo music project, The Jonah Show and played his first show at Groundworks. Specifically, he applied for Groundworks’ The First Show Show events, which is a show for young artists who haven’t played their first show yet. 

Groundworks released applications for groups or solo artists to apply for The First Show Shows. Criteria was based on if they have performed at a venue before and how well they could perform. This encourages youth to attempt and possibly perform on a real stage for their first time.

Lamont’s mom flew down from Virginia for his show. “It was a really special day. It was really thrilling to be standing in front of people waiting for you to do something. It was really fun to do that and it was spur of the moment, but it was a really great experience,” Lamont said. 

Lamont really liked The first Show Show concept and having that be his first live performance as The Jonah Show. It felt like a very inclusive experience and the way Groundworks has it structured, it makes a lot of nerves subside.

“To see a venue reach out to musicians who had never even played a show to play a show, it’s so unbelievably encouraging. Because it’s so easy to get your foot in the door because they’re trying to get your foot in the door. Also very encouraging because all the other people you’re playing with are also playing their first show. You don’t feel like you’re the only one there who’s never done this before. I felt a lot of comradery with the other people there,” Lamont said. 

Not only does this benefit Lamont and his future, but other young artists will benefit from this as well. Being a first time artist, there is a lot of fear of rejection and the feeling of not being good enough. Sometimes this fear stops people from taking the leap of faith and trying to score a show at a venue. 

“For people that won’t give themselves the push to go out and find a venue, they need to see that they have that ability and they just need that push. It shows them that they can do it and they are good enough. At least in the music industry, it’s easy to be like ‘I’m not cut out for this,’” Lamont said. 

Overall, Lamont is appreciative of the environment that Groundworks provides for youth like himself. Going into a venue you’ve never performed at, especially if you’be never performed at all, can be terrifying for a new artist that’s already scared to play in front of a crowd, let alone being a newbie at a venue.

“[Groundworks is] super welcoming and kind, and just a very good vibe for a venue. It’s kind of scary going to a place you don’t know. I’m so lucky,” Lamont said.

Groundworks’ has a very clear cut mission statement. Safety and inclusivity are some of the most important things to Greene and his team.

“Our mission is promoting the youth driven music and arts community in Tucson. There’s a few ways I think we really achieve that mission, One is by providing a safe, inclusive space. People can come, they can use the space, they can perform, they can set up art, they can do a workshop and it is truly that open. I think people are sometimes surprised even at how open it is,” Greene said.


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