July 5, 2009 in Idaho Voices

Entrepreneur helping fuel concert scene

 

It used to be if you lived in Sandpoint and were looking to attend concerts put on by top musicians, you had to travel to Spokane or wait for the summer to attend the Festival at Sandpoint. But thanks to Tyler Stonehocker and his production company Stonehouse Entertainment, that is no longer the case.

Over the last several months Stonehouse Entertainment has brought several concerts to downtown Sandpoint and has done its best to keep ticket prices affordable.

Sandpoint resident Chris Bessler for one has been pleased.

“We’ve been getting some terrific acts at the Panida and other venues,” said Bessler. “Stonehouse is bringing in artists that you just wouldn’t expect to see in a town of 8,000.”

Stonehocker is a member of the band Stoney Holiday as well as part owner of Three Glasses Restaurant and Wine Bar in downtown Sandpoint. A tourist manager for several years, Stonehocker said that when he wasn’t playing with his band he sought out something to do that was still related to music.

“So I thought why not sell music?” said Stonehocker. “Even if I lose money, I feel good because my product makes people happy.”

Now 29 years old, Stonehocker started in the music industry at 18 working at the Tacoma Dome as a stagehand. He worked with some of the bigger bands in the industry including Bob Dylan.

“Music has always been a part of my life,” said Stonehocker, who says growing up he liked everything from Billy Idol to Michael Jackson.

Over time, he began to build a reputation with touring companies and decided to open his own production company.

But to start a production company takes money and time. That is why Stonehocker thought Sandpoint would be the perfect place to start.

“Sandpoint is a great size town. I don’t need a huge semitruck, I can just fit all of the equipment into one truck,” said Stonehocker, who says owning his own sound system helps significantly reduce his overhead costs. That, in addition to being able to provide the 150-seat concert venue at Three Glasses, helps keep tickets in the range of $15.

“It all ties in really nice,” said Stonehocker, who books the larger concerts at the historic downtown Panida Theater.

Because the musicians tend to charge more for performing on weekends, Stonehocker books most of the concerts Sunday through Thursday nights.

Incorporated in November of last year, the company has yet to turn a profit. However, looking at the music lined up for the summer months it won’t take long.

Already this summer, the alternative rock band Cracker as well as the Irish rock band the Young Dubliners have been booked. And reggae fans attended the recent Voice of Reason concert at the Panida.

“There hadn’t been a reggae concert at the Panida in a long time,” said Stonehocker, adding that there are many fans of that genre in this area.

In addition to Stonehouse Entertainment’s concerts, Bessler said other production companies also are doing their share to enrich the lives of Sandpoint area residents.

“In the last couple months at the Panida I’ve seen Mason Jennings, a terrific young singer and songwriter. Joan Baez played one of the finest concerts I’ve ever been too; it was like she was in our living room, making jokes about Bob Dylan,” said Bessler. “Jackie Greene rocked the house about a month ago.”

Bessler and many others hope the trend of recent months continues.

“We’re just fortunate to get these kinds of amazing musicians here in our little town. I doubt anyone is making a lot of money from it, but it’s making us richer culturally – that’s for sure,” said Bessler.


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