Sonoma County musician, promoter and festival organizer Josh Windmiller has long sought out ways to help artists and musicians share their stories and their art. He founded the North Bay Hootenanny to connect North Bay acts and audiences through events and online media, and he founded and continues to run the annual Railroad Square Music Festival in Santa Rosa to showcase the region’s eclectic talent.
Now Windmiller is working with San Francisco nonprofit organization the Lost Church to create a new live performance venue in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa.
“The mission behind the Lost Church is to keep beautiful, intimate performance spaces alive,” Windmiller says. “That’s what this is.”
The Lost Church began life in San Francisco’s Mission District, when musicians Brett and Elizabeth Cline moved into an irregularly shaped house built by Bay Area artist David Ireland and turned the living room into a live venue.
Now a fully fledged nonprofit, the Lost Church is looking to expand its model of creating, sustaining and defending spaces like the San Francisco venue with a network of “Performance Parlors” that can host and nurture local and touring artists, and they’re starting with Santa Rosa.
Located in the vacant ground floor of the building at
427 Mendocino Ave., just off Courthouse Square, the Lost Church Santa Rosa will be an intimate, all-ages venue, with a 100-person capacity, and will focus on live music, theater, comedy and other acts. Windmiller will act as director of the venue, and says both local and touring performers will be featured.
“It’s not going to be a cafe or a bar that’s open all day,” Windmiller says. “We have some great spaces like that already. But one of the things that we could improve on in our community is a place specifically for experiencing performance together. It’s very difficult to start a venue, but this feels like a firm foundation to support the arts in the area and insert it more into daily life.”
The Lost Church is opening the Santa Rosa space in early 2019, though locals can get a sneak peek with an open house fundraiser on Saturday, Nov. 3, that will feature more than a dozen performers and bands, with presentations and discussions on the venue’s vision and future. “I think it will be an inspiring time to imagine what we can do with this space,” says Windmiller.
“We want to celebrate the community we have here.” —Charlie Swanson