It’s been almost two years, but Roseburg’s new concert hall is finally open, finally real.
The SunnySide Theater, located at 663 SE Jackson St. in downtown Roseburg, features live music with a focus on local talent, who are invited to perform at weekly open mic nights. The place had a smooth opening on July 1 and has grown since then, owner Daniel Thomas said.
“Dude, that was a relief,” he said. “Like going through everything to finally get it rolling was really great.”
Part of what makes the SunnySide Theater unique is the 1909 building it’s located in and the way Thomas chose to renovate the space.
The interior features a large stage, an L-shaped loft, brick walls, keyboards throughout, and antique pianos with glass on top that make up the main bar. Then there are the music-themed objects strewn everywhere – trumpets and trombones used as light fixtures, posters from old concerts, framed ballet slippers, a wall of cassettes, plastic records used as coasters, etc. . Each trip around the place reveals another treasure.
Thomas, a musician himself, said he chose the space because of its high ceilings, open floors, large windows that let in natural light and excellent acoustics, which he said was perfect for the type of concert hall he was considering.
The concert hall was originally scheduled to open last summer, but it fell victim to COVID-19, which caused delays, Thomas said.
The main driver of the delay was the mandatory shutdown due to the coronavirus, which Thomas says prevented him from hosting events that would have helped fund the renovation.
At one point, Thomas opened a GoFundMe site to help raise funds to complete the renovation. He also applied for grants.
If that wasn’t enough, the old building itself presented a unique set of challenges. The brick walls were covered in plaster, the plumbing was from another era, and parts of the building were not square or even, as they were meant to be.
Despite this, Thomas continued.
“A dream only dies when you decide to put it aside,” he said in a previous interview.
The name SunnySide comes from the name of Thomas’ former band, Sunny Side Up. It was meant to capture the vibe of the place, Thomas said.
“We always try to see the bright side of everything,” he said. “That’s what we want with musical theater, to try to spread positive vibes in the community.”
Thomas said the SunnySide Theater is also available to rent for events, such as weddings, corporate meetings, etc.
There is still work to be done. Currently the bar relies on Old Soul Pizza a few blocks away for dining options. Thomas had originally planned to offer fresh pancakes, but when he found out the cost of installing a required ventilation system – over $ 40,000 – he gave up on the idea.
“We really want food, and we’re throwing out some ideas,” Thomas said. “But our goal is really entertainment. “
Thomas said word was starting to spread around the venue and the crowd seemed to get a little bigger every week. He also said that as the SunnySide Theater attracts talent from Roseburg and beyond, the momentum will hopefully continue.
“We will continue to grow and make SunnySide better and better,” said Thomas.
Scott Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @ scottcarroll15.