The Re-Opening of White’s Bar • Embracing Musical Freedom in Wide Open Spaces

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, , Culture, ,   By: Robert E Martin

16th September, 2020     0

The undeniably unique musical harbor the iconic White’s Bar has provided to the cultural community of the Great Lakes Bay Region is the stuff legends are made of.  A generational family business that was founded back in 1937, since the late 1980s White’s has showcased an unprecedented array of live entertainment on a nightly basis ranging from debut local bands to national artists such as Country Joe McDonald to Wing’s Denny Laine.

But as with all sectors of the entertainment industry that were hit particular hard by the COVID-19 pandemic back in March when the country went on lockdown, for nearly six months this esteemed and much-loved cultural haven was forced to shut its doors until two weeks ago, when 4th generation owner Allysha Guldenzoph (with a little help from her friends) managed to fashioned a way to re-open the doors and bring the magic of live music back to this esteemed establishment.

“The biggest challenge we faced in terms of re-opening was figuring out a way to stage everything outdoors given the fact we didn’t have any capital to really work with,” she explains. “There wasn’t anything financially available in order for us to revamp the operation to make it work outdoors, until Antonio from Cue-Pop Entertainment said he would be able to provide us with a portable bar, port-a-potties, and tents.  We ended up renting a bigger tent to house the stage from Lee Tent and with the help of various people and friends, were able to make re-opening feasible. Due to the generosity of friends and neighbors helping us put something together, we’ve been able to bring music back to White’s seven days a week.”

Allysha says the establishment was able to get one $1500 grant through Saginaw Future along with a PPP loan for utilities and payroll, which also gave the bar more room to navigate all the pieces into the place.

The way it’s currently situated, the new outdoors formatting has worked astonishingly well. While patrons are unable to enter the physical bar, the rear pool room area has been converted into a full service bar allowing service at the rear entrance.  The outdoor tent, staging, and seating arrangements allow for servicing more people without any tight crowding, and the overall arrangement is expansive and comfortable.

“The current arrangement feels safe and makes me more comfortable,” reflects Allysha. “When I go to different places if they’re crowded I do feel a bit of anxiety and as with anything in life, I want to treat people the way I want to be treated. I wouldn’t do anything where I personally felt uncomfortable.  As the cooler weather is coming on, we’ll continue to be working with Q-Top to get propane heaters under the tents to warm things up a little bit and try and make people as comfortable as possible.  We’ll make this work as long as we can until we can safely re-open our doors.”

With two different bands and musical acts featured each day from 3:00 - 6:00 PM and 7:00 - 10:00 PM, Allysha says while all the entertainment is free, tip jars and raffles are conducted to help compensate the musicians.  “We aren’t charging cover but I am also leaving it open to the bands to decide. If they want to charge cover they can do that and keep the door money, only they are responsible for having someone collect it. Sometimes this works better for the bands and I’m leaving it to their own preference. We’re here to work with each other and I want them to get as much revenue as possible because the musicians that come through White’s are amazing and deserve all the money in the world for what they do.”

Following their big ‘Re-Opening Show’ last Saturday that went all day and featured 6 different bands, Allysha says she’s been approached about doing another larger show and will possibly stage something in October.

“It feels so good to have our doors back open to live music,” she concludes.

“We’ll keep the operation rolling outside as long as we can and weather permitting.  If we aren’t able to be fully open as the cold weather hits, we’ll probably have to temporarily close down again until we can fully reopen or it gets a little warmer out; but safety is our number one priority. Everybody has their own opinions on this crisis, but I am assuming that the Governor is following her sciences.”

Here’s a schedule of the performing artists happening at White’s through the month of September:

Weds • Sept. 16 & 30 • Brush, Balbaugh & Dolson (3 PM) / Andy Dalton (7 PM)

Thurs • Sept. 17 • Justin Mangutz (3 PM) / Holy Band Grenade (7 PM)

Friday • Sept. 18 • Ryan Sanders (3 PM) / Buzz Bin (7 PM)

Sat. • Sept. 19 • Chris & Wes (3 PM) / Barbarossa Brothers (7 PM)

Sunday • Sept. 20 • The Blue OG’s (3 PM) / Jason Dean & Pat (7 PM)

Monday • Sept. 21 • Will & Tony (3 PM) Drew Pentkowski (7 PM)

Tuesdays • Joe Balbaugh (3 PM)  / Musician’s Night (7 PM)

Weds. • Sept. 23 • Noel & Friends (3 PM) / Temper Padics (7 PM)

Thurs. Sept. 24 • Chuck Koval (3 PM) / Marsupial Creampie (7 PM)

Friday • Sept. 25 • Mel, Michelle & Wes (3 PM) / We, the Infamous (7 PM)

Sat. • Sept. 26 • Mio Bischoff (3 PM) • Ray Torres & Friends (7 PM)

Sunday • Sept. 27 • The Blue OG’s (3 PM) / Rustbucket (7 PM)

Monday • Sept. 28 • Dolson & Friends (3 PM) / Drew Pentkowski (7 PM)




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