CUMBERLAND — Loft 129, a new live entertainment venue, has opened on the downtown mall.
The concert hall, located at 129 Baltimore St. above the former Oxford House Restaurant, will feature musical acts from all genres presented by organizations and promoters in the region.
“The whole idea was to create this nonprofit organization,” Larry Jackson of Loft 129 management said. “We will do some events ourselves as an organization but we also wanted it to be a venue for other outside presenters to be able to inexpensively lease the venue to present music as well.”
The first concerts at Loft 129 will be two jazz shows. On Aug. 6, the ToMaJiTo Jazz Funktet will perform, followed by the Barry Gurley Jazz Group on Aug. 13. The shows are sponsored by the Cumberland Jazz Society.
“We created a website that will show the acts and dates and times and you can buy tickets through the website,” Jackson said. “So we wanted to bring a true musical performance venue, kind of focused that way for people.”
Jackson said he hopes the venue will be another addition to the downtown that can create a vibrant atmosphere.
“A lot of things are happening in Cumberland and people are moving here,” he said. “It should be a nice complement to all the other places that are downtown. We want to be part of the entertainment and nightlife scene.
“We want to be another option for cultural tourism for people locally and the outside area which can come bring money into the community. It becomes another layer of tourism which is already growing downtown with the trails and train and other entities that are an important part of the area.”
A feature of Loft 129 will be an already-installed public address system. With the cost of touring for professional groups increasing, many performers do not travel with large amounts of equipment. Some star performers also request local musicians as a backup band.
“We wanted to have things plug-and-play ready to go,” Jackson said. “We have all the PA equipment built in and we have lighting and monitors and other backline equipment. In addition, the venue has great sound with our acoustics.”
Jackson is also currently looking for a restaurant to fill the vacant space on the first floor at 127 Baltimore St.
“We are working to get a restaurant in there,” Jackson said. “The restaurant would be there and it will be an attraction for the live shows being right there. We are excited about the potential. Between us doing shows directly and other outside groups, we can have as many shows as possible. It would be great to have shows almost every night.”
The ToMaJiTo Jazz Funktet performs jazz fusion by such artists as Herbie Hancock, Jeff Lorber Fusion, Yellowjackets and Weather Report. Barry Gurley, originally from Cumberland, is a pianist and vocalist who started playing local gigs at an early age while studying with jazz pianist and Verve recording artist Don Scaletta. Since then, his career has taken him to jazz clubs like the Washington (D.C.) Blues Alley, The Blue Note in New York City and the Bilboquet in Paris.
For more information on the venue, including ticket availability, visit Loft129.org.