Since the disheartening news last March that the C Note was closing its doors due to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on its business, a continuing groundswell of financial and moral support from loyal fans, musicians, and the community has kept alive the hope that the popular music venue might once again become part of the lively local music scene.
About $28,000 has been raised so far from GoFundMe and other donations and a number of outdoor and livestream concerts – enough for C Note owner Charlie Fruzzetti to pay the bills through February to keep the club going.
“March 14, 2020, was our last show. No one knew back then what the extent of COVID would be,” says longtime C Note bar manager Barbara Rhind, who has a long history in the music business and books many of the gigs. “We need music in our lives.”
The sticking point is the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, which stipulated that alcoholic beverages can be served only for on-site consumption if accompanied by food prepared on-site and also limited the number of people who can participate in indoor and outdoor events. The C Note does not have a license to serve food.
“We’re just waiting on a date from the governor about when we [and other clubs] can reopen, and then we can start rolling and bring back live music,” owner Fruzzetti tells The Hull Times. “I wish that could happen tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Fruzzetti, Rhind, and other supporters remain hopeful that the C Note could perhaps reopen in late summer or in the fall, depending on continually changing state regulations and the amount of time it would take to get the club up and running again.
Rhind, with encouragement from C Note waitress Theresa Fougere, joined with Theresa’s sister Annette, a C Note bartender and passionate music lover, in convincing Fruzzetti to give them the go-ahead to set up a GoFundMe account to benefit the C Note.
According to Theresa, it was Annette’s and Rhind’s efforts that “started the ball rolling and helped Charlie realize that all of us who are making efforts to save the C Note are doing so as much for the local music community as for the town of Hull.”
The GoFundMe page was set up with a fundraising goal of $40,000, “believing at the time that we would only be closed for a couple of months and that those funds would get us through the end of the year,” Rhind says.
The response was overwhelming. With the $28,000 raised to date, including proceeds from three live outdoor events this summer that took place in wide-open venues and livestream concerts so far this winter, the C Note has paid its bills through the end of February.
“We were shocked, surprised, and humbled by the number of people who stepped up and made a donation,” Rhind says.
Other supporters came up with fundraising ideas of their own, including Alloys member Lindsey Buck, who played at the C Note earlier with the band, and who raised an additional $1,100 from the sale of her “Save the C Note” T-shirts, tank tops, and pullover hoodie creations (https://www.bonfire.com/save-the-C-note-1/).
Cohasset resident Jim Mitterando stepped up in late summer to organize two live music events on Glastonbury Abbey’s spacious lawn, with social distancing and other protocols in place, featuring the Doc Ellis Band for one concert and the Assisted Living Band for the other, both with the state-mandated 50-person maximum in place.
“Knowing that the capacity was limited, many of those who attended gave more than the ticket price,” Rhind says. “We’re hoping to do some more outdoor fundraising events in the spring if possible, under state restrictions that are in effect at that time.”
The Jeff Allen Shaw Band, which performed at the C Note the night it closed (on March 14), played an outdoor concert in Shaw’s large yard in Middleborough as the third summer benefit concert. The event also featured longtime C Note regular James Montgomery.
All the performers donate their time, which Rhind says is a huge contribution. The events benefit the C Note in the short term but also the performers who need a place to play. “If we don’t save the club first, we won’t have a venue to offer them live gigs,” she says. “We book hundreds of bands a year, so this is an important, mutually beneficial effort. …
“Trying to raise funds for something like this is exhausting, but we’re grateful for everyone who has stepped up to help keep live music on the South Shore – musicians donating their time and our customers and others making contributions ranging from $5 to $1,000, which are all very much appreciated. Every single dollar gets us closer to the goal and to the next day.”
Grant applications for potential COVID-19 relief funding have been unsuccessful so far, but that effort will continue as more grant opportunities become available.
“We’re at the bottom of the totem pole because we’re only open on weekends and for special events,” Rhind says.
One of the things Fruzzetti misses most besides hosting regular weekend performances are the youth concerts on the first Friday of every month that provide an opportunity for young musicians to be noticed.
One of the biggest disappointments in this scenario is that about 75 percent of the dates for the upcoming spring season had already been booked before the decision to close was made last March.
Before the pandemic set in, many local organizations and groups benefitted from the Fruzzetti family’s hosting of local fundraising events at the C Note – from the Hull High School music department, veterans, and the Anchor of Hull to Wellspring Multi-Service Center, Hull Seaside Animal Rescue, and others.
The C Note performance space is provided free of charge to bands that are performing benefit concerts. “We try to give back to the community as much as we can,” Fruzzetti says.
What makes the C Note special, he believes, “is that we have a really good staff, great music, and we treat everyone with respect. The goal is for everyone to have an enjoyable time, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of doing that considering we remained open for 12 years after I took over the ownership of the club.”
Hull resident Sherman Whipple, who has been both a performer and spectator at the C Note over the year and who also started the C Note Memories Facebook page, calls the club “a core destination, drawing an audience from the South Shore and beyond.”
Whipple notes that for many young people, reaching the age when they could be admitted to the club became “almost a rite of passage. It’s a great community gathering place” for music lovers of all ages, he says.
Rhind has a wish for the future “after all the effort that is being put toward keeping the empty C Note building” available, with an eye toward an eventual reopening. “I hope that once COVID lifts and we can breathe a bit, people will actually come to the C Note to support live music because music touches everyone’s lives in some way,” she says.
Donations to benefit the C Note can be made through the GoFundMe page https://www.gofundme.com/f/c-note-benefit-fund or directly to any Rockland Trust branch in the name of “The C Note Benefit Fund.”