By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Light Rail Studio in San Francisco on Sunday will host a fundraising “webathon” to help save some of the city’s  financially struggling live music venues amid the COVID-19 shutdown.

The three-hour livestream event “Because the Night,” is aimed at raising money and awareness about the plight of Bay Area venues that are part of the Independent Venue Alliance. The organization was born in the spring as the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged to shut down businesses. Operators from such landmark venues like the Bottom of the Hill, El Rio, the Rickshaw Stop and the Chapel banding together in order to amplify the cause of these key cultural hubs that have received little assistance from either city or federal government officials.

All IVA venues are currently closed and will likely remain shuttered until the final phase of the business reopenings. Some are speculating that live music performances, even on a smaller scale, may not happen this year.

Earlier this year, Light Rail Studios began streaming live music performances on Facebook as Light Rail Station, using multiple cameras and state-of-the-art sound to present local and touring acts like Robyn Hitchcock, Ezra Furman, Sarah Bethe Nelson, Chaki and Radioactivity.

“I have seen some of the most iconic venues in this city close over the past 30 years, and when we saw that there was no financial assistance for venues being considered from the state or local governments, we decided to form an alliance so we would have strength in numbers, and do everything in our power to save those that are still left,” explained IVA member and Make-Out Room booker/co-owner Parker Gibbs, who also helped found Light Rail Station and currently serves as its executive producer. “This city cannot withstand another exodus of creatives and musicians, so we decided to have a webathon where we could ask our neighbors to lend a hand.”

Because The Night webathon flyer (Light Rail Studios/IVA)

The virtual event starts Sunday at 5 p.m. with some of the performers taking a socially distanced stage at Light Rail for the livestreamed event, with others being streamed from additional locations. Among the notable acts are rock veteran Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes, actress/cabaret performer Isabella Rosselini, noted local songwriters Jonathan Richman, Chuck Prophet, Mark Eitzel (American Music Club), Joel Robinow (Once and Future Band), Kelley Stoltz and Allyson Baker (Dirty Ghosts), NYC indie-rock icons Yo La Tengo, SF funk outfit Con Brio and many others.

The webathon will be viewable on the Light Rail Studio YouTube and Facebook pages. Interested parties can donate to the cause at the Giving Back Fund webpage for the effort.

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