Three local residents opened a music venue in a Fayetteville house over the summer as live music began to make its gradual return after a difficult year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joshua Larson, Caleb Larson and Mackenzie Lea make up the staff for the Swamp House, which they opened in July at their home. The three started working together in 2020 when they opened their previous DIY house venue, Death’s Door.
“We only got to do one show before we had to shut everything down for the coronavirus,” Joshua Larson said. “We moved to this place and recently, within the past two or three months, started to do shows again. It’s been a year-long process.”
About 90% of independent venue owners, bookers and promoters who responded to a June survey said they would have to close permanently within a few months without federal aid, according to the National Independent Venue Association. COVID-19 has threatened the survival of live music venues across the country, including independent, DIY spaces.
Despite the struggles the live music industry has faced during the pandemic, the Swamp House team were encouraged to open their new venue because of rising vaccination rates in the spring and summer, Joshua Larson said.
Since opening July 9, three shows of various sizes have taken place at Swamp House. The venue has multiple performance spaces both inside and outside the house.
The Swamp House team has been able to book musicians through the help of social media, Joshua Larson said. The venue’s Instagram account, @swamp.fayetteville, has over 500 followers.
The first show at Swamp House took place July 9 and featured Mount Comfort and Polaroid Panda.
Erin Detherage, who was the guitarist for Polaroid Panda until late July, said she was pleasantly surprised by the venue’s lively atmosphere.
“As soon as we got in the house where the performance was at, it’s so neat,” Detherage said, “The experience was just extremely amazing and I know we had a lot of fun performing there.”
The venue had plenty of room for gear and included an impressive lights display, and the staff recorded the band’s entire performance, Detherage said.
Swamp House was host to another event on July 24, with multiple live music performances and art booths. Musical acts including Bera Bera, FunkFurmunks, Mindless Souls, DJ Man Ray, Quantum Hotbox, Rawbxne and DJ Girlfriend performed at the event.
Help with booking and funding for Swamp House comes primarily from the support of volunteers and donors. For each event, Swamp House has a $5 suggested donation box on a table near the entrance. Money raised goes toward the bands, artists and supplies for the show, Caleb Larson said.
Despite how highly saturated the live music industry is in Fayetteville, Lea said she is not worried.
“Since we’ve tried to get started, we’ve pretty much made it a point to not have to try and compete,” Lea said. “We’re just trying to bring in an extra space for live music to the scene.”
Swamp House’s next show will take place Sept. 18. Masks and vaccinations are required for all attendees, according to the Swamp House Instagram page. The event will include Mothership, Bootleg Royale and Carpenterpencil.