From garage to gallery space to countywide pop-up experience, creative advocate the Frontier Room has evolved within the North Bay’s arts and music scene to give room to underground acts with curated live experiences outside the norm.
This month, the Frontier Room hosts rising Seattle indie-pop band Lemolo in a free show at Sonoma Cider on Sept. 27, with Santa Rosa songwriter John Courage opening the show.
The Frontier Room is headed by South Bay native and pro-skateboarder Adam Crew, who moved to Santa Rosa five years ago.
“I knew I was going to be coming back to the West Coast,” says Crew. “I always had a lot of longtime friends who lived here.” Crew moved into a house in Santa Rosa’s Luther Burbank neighborhood, though upon arrival he says he felt a lack of diversity in the local music and art scene. So he did something about it.
“I never thought I would be trying to run a venue,” says Crew. “But, basically, I turned my garage into the first edition of the Frontier Room.”
Crew built a stage and set up his garage into a social club that hosted art shows and low-key concerts. In 2014, Crew teamed with musician and drum instructor Jesse Wickman, who was running Atlas Studios in Santa Rosa’s South of A arts district, to turn that studio space into a gallery under the Frontier Room name. While that space only lasted a year, the Frontier Room became synonymous in Sonoma County with dynamic, inclusive events that blended art and music from both touring bands and local artists.
These days, Crew continues to look for a permanent brick-and-mortar location to revive the Frontier Room, though he still works with a select group of venues to put on pop-up events. In addition, he’s taken the Frontier Room to the frontiers of the internet. “We’ve turned into a digital voice for an underground community,” he says.
The Frontier Room’s support for the local scene also includes trying to bring bigger musical acts to town, such as Lemolo, who make their Sonoma County debut this month. Formed and fronted by songwriter Meagan Grandall, Lemolo crafts ethereal dream-pop gems that walk the line between quiet reflections and dance-floor jams. Lemolo’s current New Songs and Spaces tour sees the band performing brand-new material.
“I encourage people to come early, says Crew, “and engage with likeminded people.”