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Under the Radar

Santa Rosa's Live Musicians Co-op expands its vision

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SOUND CHECK Nathan Prowse supports the local music scene with his co-op rehearsal space and venue.
  • SOUND CHECK Nathan Prowse supports the local music scene with his co-op rehearsal space and venue.

Nestled among nondescript industrial blocks on Santa Rosa's Piner Road is one of the most extensive and all–encompassing musical centers in the North Bay.

Music scholar and educator Nathan Prowse started the Live Musicians Co-op nearly eight years ago as a small rehearsal and recording space. The locally raised musician, who studied at Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State before earning a degree at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, returned to the North Bay and saw the slim pickings that local musicians had in terms of space for making music.

"There's a ton of talented musicians around," says Prowse, "but the area doesn't support live music. I don't know why."

Prowse saw an opportunity to put together a successful business model for the underground scene with his co-op. Bands pay a monthly fee and are guaranteed rehearsal time in one of the space's soundproof studios, complete with equipment and gear. There are also state-of-the-art recording studios, with reasonable rates and a professional mindset.

"It's more of a networking hub for musicians, a cesspool of ideas," says Prowse.

For him, it's all about the community, and the co-op has long worked with nonprofits like the InterFaith Shelter Network to offer free music and dance lessons to disadvantaged youth.

In the last two years, the co-op has doubled in size. The largest rehearsal space has been outfitted with a top-notch sound system and dance floor. "We're not a bar, we're not somewhere you eat. This is where you hear live music," says Prowse.

This summer, the co-op is bringing underground music back to Santa Rosa with an exciting concert series. Out of all the eclectic offerings, the most intriguing show is expat Chinese punk band Stegosaurus? The group was formed in 2009 in Shanghai by four Americans, two of whom hail from Sonoma County, and mashes up a fun and addictive brand of outlandish punk mixed with Chinese pop and throwback rock riffs.

Stegosaurus? play for the first time on American soil, kicking off a DIY tour at the Live Musicians Co-op. The show also features local alternative rockers Green Light Silhouette and indie-rock pop endeavor Survival Guide, which features Petaluma vocalist and musician Emily Whitehurst, best known as the voice of seminal punk outfit Tsunami Bomb. The co-op will also host contestants in the Bohemian's 24-Hour Band contest later this summer.

Stegosaurus? play Wednesday, July 2, at the Live Musicians Co-op, 925 Piner Road, Santa Rosa. 7pm. $6. 707.527.8845

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