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In Session: The Jive Hive Live – Nippertown

Nippertown – Music, Arts and Culture News for the Albany Area – Celebrating Music, Arts, and Culture in the Capital Region
ALBANY – Generosity. Camaraderie. Spirit. And, everlasting love of music. At its very best, most idyllic form, that’s what the music industry rarely succeeds in offering, yet with every fiber of its being, that’s what The Jive Hive Live strives to uphold. Nestled in the foot of Albany, the building, which is touted – and rightly so – as a space for creatives to perform their artistic vision in either a live streaming or recording fashion, helps create art simply for arts’ sake. Owned by Tom O’Connor, and his wife, Stacy Marsh, and operated by the couple, alongside Mikey Baish and Alec Lewis, it is truly a diamond in the rough and a beacon for everything the music industry should be.
Relaunching their venue on April 20th, I finally had a chance to sit down with the crew and discuss this amazing venture. Please read on to catch our chat, and learn more about this great place!
Lucas Garrett: Thank you, everyone, for sitting down with us tonight at Nippertown for what seems to be a fascinating project in the Capital Region. How did this place come to be?
Tom O’Connor: Stacy and I have owned this historical property since 2000. I’ve always been in bands and the reason we bought it – against Stacy’s best judgment – was because it had this 1890s carriage house, where they’d have horses and their buggies. It was owned by a bigshot at the D&H Railroad and Canal Company down where the SUNY buildings are at the foot of Albany.
Basically, we walked into the place and she loved the house and figured out what she wanted to do. But I looked at the carriage house and I said, “Great! This is an amazing place for my band to play.” So, some versions of my band and other bands and people jamming; weddings and funerals and baptisms have happened throughout the years. It’s become a creative-commons where people come to express themselves in a completely open and judgment-free zone. It’s not about doing anything but helping people out.
LG: That’s a very noble cause, right there. Especially in the music world.
Mikey Baish: Yeah, for sure! It’s pretty unbelievable sometimes. Alec and I have had conversations where we’re like, “This guy is completely nuts!”
Alec Lewis: “He can’t possibly be this generous…”
MB: But, he is!
LG: I was just thinking about having all these different musicians in my house, and I’m like, “No, thank you. I’m good.”
TO: Ha. Well, I didn’t just do it for my band. We have a network of very talented local musicians – a number of who won Eddie Awards. Music should be a community experience where the music is color-blind and blind in any other way. Imagine 20 years of that attitude. There are a lot of cool people that have come through here. Once you’ve come here, you’re qualified to bring anyone you want back to the Hive. But, here’s the one rule of the Jive Hive: you can invite anyone you want here as long as you would trust them in your house under any circumstances and trust that your place would be fine when you get back.
LG: That’s a good litmus test.
MB: Absolutely. We do filter it a little bit.
LG: You talk about inclusivity and all these good vibes. I feel as much as they’re as good in this area, there’s also some really unfortunate stuff happening. I believe that this venue and what you’re doing is a great way to combat that. How do you maintain that energy when there is, for lack of a better word, sh*t, going on in the world right now?
AL: I think one of the ways we do that is by not having any exchange of money. We offer somebody to come in here, invite whom they want; have a show, have a performance. We can multitrack audio. We record videos. We can stream it if they wish, or if they don’t, we can just record it. We have five stationary video cameras that are motorized and moveable. There’s room for four additional cameras that can be brought in, as well. What we give them is an opportunity to document what they do and have a professional quality audio recording and video recording they can then distribute and use for their own publication and promotion. They can use that to make money, but we’re not asking for money. That makes it more about goodwill and the people that are here really want to be here and aren’t doing it for the paycheck.
Stacy Marsh: There’s a lot of gratitude.
AL: Gratitude and collaboration, as opposed to money.
TO: It’s not a transaction.
LG: I gotta be honest with you, Tom. You’re in bands, and you do a lot of stuff, so you know. A lot of what you guys are emanating, creating and putting out into the world, you don’t really see that that often. In my experience, more often than not, it’s “Where’s my dollar? Where’s my money? What can I do to go further ahead?” I think it’s fantastic, what you’re doing, and very admirable.
TO: I mean, I’ve seen some stuff on you, Lucas, and I’d love to have you come to the Jive Hive and lick microphones…
MB: Hahahaha.
TO: We have 58s, we have 57s, we have 835s.
AL: Add a little spice to your life…
TO: When are you coming to do your show here?
LG: Let’s set something up, for sure. I might lick microphones, but probably not. It depends on how I feel that day. Speaking of performance, though, what can we expect coming from the Jive Hive in the upcoming months.
MB: We have a lot of great shows coming up. We have Run Rabbit Run, which is a Pink Floyd Tribute.
TO: That’s a really cool one, Lucas. On Sunday, May 15th, there’s a lunar eclipse happening. Carl Blackwood, who’s an amazing dude, has put together a really killer band that is doing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety.
LG: That’s hard to pull off.
AL: They’ve got the talent.
MB: He’s put together a fantastic band.
AL: It’s a great ensemble, and an undertaking.
TO: One of the cool things about the Hive: if you weren’t filming and cut off sight-lines of the cameras, you could fit about 75 people in the Hive. In a club-like setting. We’ll probably have 40 people in the Hive for the Pink Floyd show, inside the Jive Hive. We also have an outdoor, 16 or 20-foot giant screen where we do rear-projection. For shows like that, when the weather’s nice, we’ll simulcast the performance to that screen and we invite people to come and picnic on the lawn. We set up a whole PA system outside and invite the neighbors.
MB: It’s going to be a great time. Here’s a full list of upcoming shows at the Jive Hive Live:
TO: One other thing. The NolaNauts, the nine-piece New Orleans funk band I’m in, call the Jive Hive their home-base. Every Wednesday, and a lot of Sundays – if we’re not doing a Jive Hive Allstars jam – we’ll get together and Stacy, the Queen Bee and executive chef, will cook for everyone. We’re talking 15 or 20 people. It’s friends of the Hive and people that are coming around. What it does for the NolaNauts is it makes us show up for dinner – most of these guys are motivated by food and beer.
AL: It’s not just food, it’s creation. She’s one of the best cooks I’ve ever experienced, personally.
SM: Thank you!
TO: For Wednesdays, this does a couple things. Local musicians will come by and enjoy dinner, and the NolaNauts will rehearse. We’ll get real-time feedback on where we suck and where we’re doing OK. That’s priceless and that’s what community is all about.
LG: I gotta say, I really love what you guys are doing. Would you like to comment on anything, Stacy? I haven’t heard much from you.
SM: I’m just happy to be a part of it. I’m not a musician, but I know how to cook. That’s my contribution to the band, and to Tom, and what everyone’s trying to do. Creating a sense of family and camaraderie, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.
LG: Awesome.
TO: She forgot one thing.
LG: What’s that?
TO: She brings all the girls who dance.
SM: I forgot about that, haha.
MB: They’re not dancing girls.
AL: They’re girls that dance!
LG: I was like, “Damn! Now I really have to show up!”
[everyone laughs].
TO: From ages 8 to 80, there will be women that know how to dance that will teach the guys that don’t know how to dance. And, the music helps!
LG: Thank you, everyone, once again for taking the time to sit down to talk about all of this.
AL, MB, SM, TO: Thank you!
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