More Than Just A Concert Hall
By Gene Marrano
Tyler Godsey had a good job with the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Planning Commission, but he also had a dream. That dream is now the 5 Points Music Sanctuary on Maple Avenue (just off Walnut Avenue in downtown Roanoke), a former church turned into a 2800 square foot concert venue with a balcony space, full bar, couches and other types of seating for around 250 people. Modifications have been made to help with the acoustics and Godsey says they may be “almost perfect right now.” He cites friends, supporters and volunteers for suggestions on how to tweak the sound.
5 Points has hosted various performers and groups over the past year or so and the roster continues to grow. “I wanted to see the next level in Roanoke. My goal was to complement the fantastic work that’s already being done [at other venues].” Godsey saw a void between the bar scene like Martin’s and other smaller halls like The Spot – and the much larger Jefferson Center.
As a hearing-impaired person with two children that were born deaf but now hear with the help of cochlear implants, Godsey has another goal: he says the 5 Points Music Foundation mission is “to pursue the power of sound through live events that support programs focused on music therapy, education and hearing loss advocacy.”
That entails working with bands to ensure their music won’t damage the ears of those who come to shows at 5 Points. It also means he can lend patrons with severe hearing loss a “subpac” they wear on their backs during concerts, a vest wired in remotely to the sound system that vibrates to the beat and lets those who hear little or nothing enjoy the experience.
In the basement of the old church Godsey has leased space to artists who conduct their own forms of therapy for those dealing with hearing issues. He struggled until decent health insurance and support from the Regional Planning Commission meant he could afford hearing aids. (Godsey thinks it’s odd that many insurance plans will cover the more extensive cochlear implant surgical procedure but not a simple hearing aid; he’d like to see that change.)
It’s still about the performers first and 5 Points welcomes a variety of genres. (See the Facebook page or 5pointsmusic.com for a complete schedule). “We want to create an atmosphere where people come in and find not only a sense of intimacy … but a sense of comfort.” Outside groups can also rent 5 Points Music Sanctuary for special events – like a silent disco and glow party on October 26, when attendees will wear glowing headphones to hear the music. Two DJ’s will battle for votes; dancers change channels on their headphones to hear them. There are other perks as well. See the 5 Points website for more details.
October is National Audiology Month and “is really big for us,” notes Godsey – it’s also the 7th anniversary for his son “having his ears turned on,” via the implant. “We have an incredible lineup of music [in October]; I wanted to turn it into a celebration of where we are, where we’re going and where we’ve been.” Godsey says the musicians he books for 5 Points truly “feel the mission of what we do – it’s a sanctuary not only for the performers but for the people that come here.”