Imagine if half of the independent music venues in Philadelphia suddenly burst into flames one night, shutting them down for an unforeseen amount of time. It’s almost unthinkable, but that scenario actually occurred in Atlantic City on Sunday, Jan. 19, as Le Grand Fromage suffered damage from an electrical fire, jeopardizing its future as a bastion for live events.
“People think we’re like the Hatfields and the McCoys, but that’s not it at all,” says Paul Brown, who books the calendar for the Boneyard, a neighboring venue, and the other half of the city’s local, independent music scene. “We’re actually friends — we’re like a small family.”
As a testament to those feelings, Brown is organizing a benefit for the Fromage to be held 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26.
Doors will be opening at 1 p.m., with more than a dozen acts performing 30-minute sets throughout the day.
“The amount of bands that came forth in such a short time to help out is amazing,” says Brown.
Jersey punk legends the Choices will perform, along with retro surf aficionados the Outlets, grunge-fueled newcomers Under the Radar and several other acts from across the state.
“I’m also waiting for final confirmation on a surprise headliner,” reveals Brown, who remains tight-lipped for the time being. “We’re pretty much going to have an all-day festival. It’s a Sunday, so we don’t want to keep people out too late.”
As for the benefit itself, Brown hopes the money raised can help toward getting their neighbors at the Fromage back on their feet and hosting more independent music shows and festivals as soon as possible.
A $20 donation will be accepted at the door, giving patrons access to all the bands, all day long. A 50/50 raffle will take place, as well as other fundraising activities.
“Jerry Ryan from Elephant Talk is going to bring in some rare music memorabilia to auction off or use as door prizes, too,” Brown says. “We share a back wall with the Fromage. Luckily, it didn’t spread too much, but if it had gotten out of control we would have been in trouble. We really don’t know how much this damage is going to wind up costing.”
Other bands scheduled to play the benefit include Lurk, Your Persona, the Total Soundholes, Ebb and Flow, the Second Side, Volume 11, Spectrums and Christine Rubcich.