studio 99: 2008-2013

About five years ago I had three women come to me at the same time for some music head shots.  While we were making the photographs and conversing, one of the women, Elise, was telling me how she wanted to find some studio space so she could start doing private instruction.  Just down the hallway from me was an empty space.  I showed it to her and gave her some contact information.

Read more and see images after the cut:

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The first time I met Elise; her head shot session.

A little later, Elise took that space and started teaching music from there.  She named it "Studio 99" - the basis being that her studio was located at 99 Factory Street in Nashua.  While she was doing this, people started asking her about jams; did she host them, etc.  She gave it a shot, and, over time, the jam sessions became specific and catered to players; a Blues Jam once a week, then a Jazz Jam, then a Django Jam.  Pretty soon she had all kinds of Jam nights for local musicians to come and test their chops with their local musician peers.

While Elise was teaching music lessons and while the jams were going on, she was asked if she did Open Mics.  So she gave it a shot.  Pretty soon, lots of people from the Jam nights, as well as new visitors and musicians started attending an Open Mic even twice a month.  Then, she was asked if she featured headliners at the Open Mics.  So then she started booking short, 30-45 minute headliner acts that would perform during the middle of the Open Mic nights.  We all passed a hat around for the feature performer.  Usually they went home with some money in their pocket.

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During the first headlining concert, with Elise joining in.

While Elise was teaching music lessons and overseeing the Jam nights and lining up people for the Open Mic events, she started getting contacted from bands and songwriters asking if Studio 99 booked gigs.  So she gave it a shot.  One of the first bands to perform at Studio 99 was Miss Tess & The Bon Ton Parade.  Another was guitarist Ian Ethan Case.  Slowly and steadily, Studio 99 started to grow.

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Ian Ethan Case.  Amazing Nashua since 2008.

Pretty soon, Studio 99 outgrew the space at 99 Factory Street and she located a short walk from there into a building located off of Main Street in Nashua.  It was a great location - set up in an old room with a checkerboard floor that used to be a typing school.  I did an album cover session with Matt Jackson there.  We sweat along with Liz Longley during a very hot evening.  I met Michael Bellar there.  Sara and I even had our small wedding reception there in September of 2011.

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Matt Jackson's "Prove You Wrong" 2010

Sid & Sara get married! 2011

Shortly after our wedding, Elise moved Studio 99 to Factory Street in Nashua.  This was the first time the venue would be a ground level venue with huge floor to ceiling windows in the front.  I got really excited for the possibilities that they would now have.

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The Bryan Thomas Trio, live at Studio 99

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The Bryan Thomas Trio, live at Studio 99

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Liz Longley Live! flyer

But eventually all good things must come to an end, and Elise simply couldn't sustain Studio 99 any longer.  I think partly because we couldn't reach that critical mass needed for a listening room to survive.  In an article published at the close of 99, other factors, like very rude passers by and an overall lack of support didn't make it possible for Studio 99 to continue.  Abruptly in March of 2013, Studio 99 closed its doors for good.

I'm still saddened by it's closure.  For me, it was an escape to a place that supported creative musical talent and tried to get that talent audience.  I've become very good friends with a lot of the people who helped keep Studio 99 going for as long as it did.  I've met and worked with some amazing musicians.  The memories will last forever.  The friendships and support will last forever.  The spirit will last forever.

Because everything ended so abruptly with the closure of Studio 99, it didn't feel like it had a proper ending.  There was no proper "thank you" to Elise for everything she had done over the last five years.  The others that were involved also felt the same way,  so on April 13th 2013 we held a surprise party for Elise here at my photography studio.  Everyone who was involved with Studio 99 was invited, and what we ended up with was a room full of musicians and fans jamming the night away and eating good food in honor of Elise.  She was surprised, and everyone finally felt like we had a proper thank you to Elise and a proper goodbye to what was Studio 99.

Mike Loce, Kevin Wyman, Bryan Thomas, Ian Ethan & many more musicians all jammed and played in celebration of Elise and Studio 99.

I miss it like crazy.  I miss seeing live music in my town every weekend.  I miss meeting all these great musicians and music listeners.  But I got to be part of some magic, and while the audience might have been low in numbers, those who witnessed it will always remember how special it was.

Here are just some of the musicians I was honored to meet and eventually work with:

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Ian Ethan Case

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Emily Elbert

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Bryan Thomas Trio

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Alec Speigelman Trio (From Miss Tess & Bon Ton Parade)

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Liz Simmons & Hannah Sanders

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Liz Longley

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Matt Jackson

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Allison Miller from Honey Ear Trio

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Amy Petty

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Tripple Shot Factory Funk

Thank you Studio 99.  Five years of incredible music and talent.  Utterly fantastic.  Thank you Elise MacDonald.  You remain a dear friend and totally awesome.

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Wearing our shirts proudly.