WILKES-BARRE — A.J. Jump is adamant about the importance of small venues.
As a professional musician, he’s no stranger to what it takes for an act to “make it.”
Even the largest, international touring acts started out playing garages, basements, house parties, small clubs and bars, backyard birthday parties, and whatever other gig might be available to the up-and-comer.
Karl Hall is something of an amalgamation of the aforementioned venues. Moreover, it’s a place founded by a zeal for sounds, not fueled by dreams of dollar signs, but instead by a love of good live tunes, regardless of genres or subgenres.
“I didn’t do this to make money. You don’t make money at this level,” Jump says from a stool in the empty basement venue. “It’s a passion thing. But it needs to be here. It has to be here. Every area needs to have a place like this.”
Opened in 2017, Karl Hall, named for late local musician Kevin Karl, saw initial success with its intimate setting, vast and varied bills and lineups, and the B.Y.O.B. policy, of course. Since 2020, however, the downtown all-ages spot has seen just one show played within its walls.
“It’s like Groundhog Day,” Jump says, reflecting on the uncertainty and monotony of getting through the pandemic. “We tried some things. We did some outdoor shows. And those were wildly successful and people really enjoyed them and it was great. We did eight total shows outside,” although one show saw thunderstorms threatening and led to the only indoor show.
Jump and Karl Hall also partnered with some other local entities for an “at-home” concert series that saw many acts play pre-recorded acoustic sets, which Jump says were awesome.
And while many acts turned to livestream concerts throughout the pandemic, Jump says the cost of production that goes into such things is just something that isn’t financially feasible. “Unless you do it on a grand scale, with production and you have the fastest internet – but the production cost to do something like that is super expensive and people don’t realize that.”
He points to television production as an example. “TV’s been produced for years, so how do you try to do something on a shoestring budget when everybody has been watching the Super Bowl halftime show and the Grammy’s?”
He says unless you can match that level of production, it makes no sense to go that route.
Jump has worked with downtown organizations like the Diamond City Partnership, although those collaborations saw him helping to book different events. “They’re awesome,” Jump says of the DCP. “I love …….