After 39 years Somewhere Else Tavern may be forced to close
The Triad is in real danger of losing one of the oldest and most beloved music institutions of our time, the Somewhere Else Tavern.
By: Rei Haycraft
Located at 5713 W. Friendly Ave. in Greensboro, the Somewhere Else Tavern was the first all-ages venue in North Carolina and has been the heart and soul of the local music community for nearly four decades.
For the past 39 and a half years, Burley Hayes, his wife Crystal, and his family have operated the Somewhere Else Tavern, providing a place for local bands to perform original material. With music venues closing and many no longer allowing local bands to play, SWET has been a haven for musicians in the Triad and one of the most influential. For the club’s 39th anniversary, musicians from all of the country submitted stories about how the Somewhere Else Tavern changed their lives, supported them, and gave them a home.
“The Somewhere Else Tavern is a beacon for the broken. A place of support, that shines even on the darkest nights,” shared Sonni Von T, who tended the bar at SWET for 14 years. “And I know no matter where I go, I’m always loved Somewhere Else. “
Shortly after celebrating that milestone, however, tragedy struck as Hayes learned that the building that houses the club had been sold. The previous owners understood the importance of the venue and its impact in our community and had an agreement that allowed Hayes to keep the club open at a reduced rent. Without that agreement, there was no way that Hayes, who is disabled, would be able to make the costs.
The building’s new owner does not plan to honor the previous rental agreement and informed Hayes that if he wishes to keep the club open into the new year the monthly rent would more than triple. Without a miracle, SWET may be forced to close its doors for the last time.
“Our backs are against the wall,” Hayes said sadly. “We are being forced out. This is really hurting my soul.”
“We are devastated,” added Crystal, who works alongside her husband at the club each night. “Burley’s heart and soul is love and original music. This is his life, his dream. I will stand by his side forever and support him in anything but he should be able to go out on his own terms.”
Musicians and patrons across the region are rallying together in hopes of saving the beloved Tavern from destruction; setting up fundraising shows, creating a GoFundMe for donations, and seeking sponsors that would be able to help the club reach its increased monthly rent.
Without support from the entire community, we will lose one of our most treasured institutions and a pillar of the music scene. For nearly four decades, the message has always been the same: it’s all for the love of music. And that is worth fighting for.
If you or your business is interested in becoming a monthly sponsor of The Somewhere Else Tavern, please contact Burley Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate to the cause, visit the SAVE SWET campaign at www.gofundme.com/keep-swet-open.