Two weeks ago, we had John “Cyco” Defruscio and Windsong Hadley from Firehouse 13 on Derelict Dummies to confirm that the venue would be closing the first week of July. At press time, there are still no known plans for the building.
Firehouse 13 began as an art gallery plus performance space. It hosted all types of special events, and many of those events included the traditional wine and cheese plates we all expect.
At some point the versatile building was also the home of local artists, and owner Nick Bauta and curator/promotions person Anna Shea saw a true renaissance of the Providence music scene in the process.
Eventually Bauta moved on to partnering and managing Fete Music Hall in Olneyville, but still felt loyal to his original launching point. The only issue was finding someone who had the passion and expertise to keep Firehouse 13 flourishing and nurture it’s performance and gallery events.
Enter John “Cyco” Defruscio from Intrinsic Promotions and his partner Windsong Hadley. John was no stranger to promoting hugely attended dance nights since his college days and he became an intricate component at the Big Bubble Living Room back in the late 80’s doing 1000 people dance nights or handling security at a Megadeth show.
John had run Club Hell on Richmond Street in his post graduate pursuits and built relationships with artists and talent agents.
Under the Cyco era of the Firehouse, the venue developed its own unique place in the Providence music community. Not only did it become a local music venue, but it also began to present regional and national touring acts.
The stage and sound were beefed up and a much needed beer and wine license was procured. The building became like a community center. There were rehearsal studios for bands and unique events designed to accommodate two upstairs loft spaces. Artists still displayed their work for sale and The Spot gang found a relocation for their Madcap Mondays series.
However as live music attendance dropped off and new generations of fans declined, it became harder to get the bottom line to support the property and the owners began to think of alternatives including a sale of the building.
Seeing the writing on the wall prompted Defruscio and Hadley to re evaluate the situation in terms of being able to book a dependable schedule of shows thus forcing the Intrinsic brand to move its operations focus to other facilities including setting up new headquarters at Dave Moore’s Alchemy nightclub.
We reached out to some folks who were involved with the venue to give us their impressions of the closing:
I can't tell you how many times I've been to FH13 because it was a regular occurrence. I've attended as a promoter, music fan, and to view art and hear comedy! I heard everything from local acoustic to punk (leading to a knee surgery we won't discuss) to national rock and metal. John and Windsong were always amazing and I felt welcome with open arms. I'm going to miss rocking out in this iconic building.
When I think of a Providence venue with a rich history - Firehouse 13 comes to mind. Throughout the years I have had the pleasure of experiencing many diverse acts. From local bands to not so local bands. As a musician I have enjoyed playing the venue with the bands I have been in as well as a solo artist. So many memories in that venue - best playing memory was the Limelight Music Awards with Fall & Bounce about 5 years ago - great crowd and sound. Meeting and hanging out with the awesome Gail Greenwood after a Benny Sizzler show is another stellar memory at FH13. I honestly can't even count the times I've hung out there - so many nights in Firehouse - I've seen punk, folk, rock, experimental, jazz, disco, comedians - even a live production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show - which was amazing.
Ruth Marie of Sex Coffee
Firehouse 13 was an amazing place to play. Regardless of the genre or theme of the night, all bands were made to feel welcome and original music was celebrated! The eclectic line ups were always nothing short of a mashup talented musicians! We have worked with John for over ten years now and he has always been one of the biggest supporters of local original bands. We look forward to working with him in future endeavors and cannot wait to see what he has in store next!
"Nick Bauta called me for the grand opening of Firehouse 13 in (year?) and I immediately loved the space. A renovated Firehouse!? How cool is that!? Being an artist I had the opportunity to live there for a year in 2010. There were always art shows and concerts going on. I was fortunate enough to moon Sasquatch from the second floor through the floor Plexiglas. Hahaha. I recently played Madcap Monday and heard they were closing down. I was fortunate to hang out with Nick, like old times and reminded him how valuable people like him were to the community. To provide places for art to flourish and a music community to happen. It is important to have people like Bauta in your city. It is sad to hear that such a great venue will need to be closed."
"Firehouse 13 is the kind of venue I dreamed of hanging out at as a kid. Something about the slightly spooky, beautifully antiquated brick architecture, majestically lonely watchtower looming over an starkly urban backdrop gives it a distinctly mysterious, darkly promising ambiance that to me just couldn’t be any more rock and roll. This impression has been strengthened in my with every show I’ve put on there, every event I’ve hosted inside its walls, every night I’ve enjoyed myself lounging as a guest at a variety of events so eclectic in nature that they made my heart sing with the sheer Bohemian-ness of the experiences distilled within. In contrast to some other venues where the profit margin is the bottom line, Firehouse 13 has been a bastion for local art, music and creative activity of all kinds since it first opened its doors.
The fact that it is now set to close should serve as a wake up call to all of us who value such things. Will the fire be passed on, or will it be left to smolder in the gutter? There’s no easy answer, no simple replacement. Whether another venue opens ( or an existing one adapts itself to fulfil the same function ) or not it’s time for all of ask to ask ourselves what >we< can personally do to keep the spirit of communal creativity alive. Firehouse has done its part. It’s our turn now."
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