It’s an understatement to say that businesses in Los Angeles are struggling during the Covid-19 crisis, and sadly, it’s the creative ones that continue to suffer the most. Music and nightlife, bars and clubs, plays and movies have all been restricted or shut down. And festivals? Forget about it. Large gatherings that are not necessary (or historically meaningful, such as protest events) simply aren’t worth the safety risk. Like other fests we’ve seen move online the past several months, Echo Park Rising is going virtual this year, and this effort deserves your support, maybe more than any other online event pivot so far, as it’s put on by the businesses for the businesses in need themselves.
EPR usually marks the busiest weekend of the year for Echo Park-area shops, restaurants and creators. The four-day event brought thousands to the area with local bands, artists and merchants from the Echo Park Chamber of Commerce participating. One of the biggest has been Bedrock.LA, a neighborhood Mecca for rehearsing, recording and inspiring local music-makers. Founded in 2009 by three musicians who sought to provide a bigger, better kind of music meeting place, the Eastside landmark features 40,000 square feet with multiple rooms of air conditioned facilities, providing a “sound sanctuary” for those who seek one.
“We’re a working-musician kind of place,” says Bedrock’s proprietor, who goes by the name KamranV. “It’s clean, friendly and things work. It’s not fancy but we’ve had everything from Weird Al’s #1 selling, Grammy Award winning album ‘Mandatory Fun’ to local piano teachers paying $10/hour for a solo room to teach piano to a young child. We love it that we can serve such a wide variety of customers.”
With a giant mural that the owners claim is actually visible from space, Bedrock has been a colorful creative hub for the community for over a decade, but the pandemic has obviously curtailed things to say the least. V calculates about 2,500 musicians per week came through pre-Covid. Bedrock was also the #3 seller of guitar strings in Los Angeles, just behind Guitar Center and Sam Ash. “Things are different now,” he says. “We just partially reopened a few weeks ago. [We’re] still far from breaking even on our costs of doing business, but it is really nice to see people respectfully and safely rehearsing and recording with us.”
The president of the Echo Park Chamber of Commerce, V admits that business in the area on the whole has been down. He says many businesses closed or are struggling to stay open. There has been about a 20 percent drop in membership in the business group due to the pandemic with some already out of business and many moved.
“Some can’t even justify as low as $50 a year to maintain membership,” he says. “Unlike most chambers, our board is all made up of volunteers like myself and we are not affiliated with any city or national chambers; all independent since its founding in 1961. Normally, Echo Park Rising is the most significant sales weekend for most of our local businesses.”
As someone who’s produced multi-million dollar events in the past, V adds that EPR has been free for the past 10 years and hasn’t been losing any money doing so. “Echo Park Rising is usually produced for less than $100,000,” he shares. “For a 4-day, 40,000 attendee event, that is unheard of. Most of that money came from sponsors and grants. “
Unfortunately, they have almost none of that this year, other than KCRW sponsorship and the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs helping support the event. They’re on their own otherwise. “EPR is a unicorn of an event and it’s a testament to the businesses, artists and volunteers that make this possible every year,” V asserts. “I’m very proud to be a part of such a fine group of people making, supporting and attending this event. We hope that fans of Echo Park Rising really put their full support into the businesses working to stay open and remind people that artists are businesses too.”
In addition to Bedrock.LA (which will be live-streaming the webcast for the EPR channel with musical guests Wajatta and Rropa Magica), planning partners at EPR include Gil Cedillo, Mitch O’Farrell, Community Partners, Department of Cultural Affairs, Echo Park Chamber of Commerce, The Echo and Echoplex, iam8Bit, Lassen’s, Mohawk Bend, Spaceland Presents, Studio Number One and Taix.
Some of our favorite local participating local businesses also include the following: Adamae, American Barbershop/ The 16660s, Aroma Laundry, Baby Blues BBQ, Bob Baker Marionette Theater, El Classico Tattoo, El Prado, Cosmic Vinyl, Dublab, Hammer & Nails, Lemon Frog Shop, Masa of Echo Park, One Down Dog Yoga, Portia Street Studios, Sage Plant Based Bistro & Brewery, Sick City Records, Subliminal Projects, Sunset Beer, Stories Books & Cafe, The Strength Shoppe, Tilda, and 826LA Time Travel Mart. Support them!
Proceeds from Echo Park Rising will be shared with participating businesses (full list here).
Read about the music line-up here.