Charles Thorpe got his first chance to help with stage management at a concert more than 25 years ago. He was working as a bartender at the time, and post-hardcore band Fugazi was playing at a venue called Bricks that no longer exists. A co-worker gave him a shot.
“It was the greatest thing that could have happened to me because I ended up on stage with one of my favorite bands,” Thorpe, now a mainstay in the Salt Lake City music scene, said. “And from that night on, I knew that this was what I was going to do.”
In the decades since, Thorpe has helped “build the platform for others” in the Utah music scene by founding Anchor Stage Management in 2007 and managing thousands of shows.
But his latest project is a place for local artists of all kinds — from bands to podcasters to painters to poets — to not only work on their art in rooms that can be rented out but connect with other people in the community. It’s called Space and Faders.
“This place isn’t just about music, it’s every art,” Thorpe said. “It’s really meant to be a melting pot of inspiration.”
Concept is ‘refreshing and needed’
Sometimes, local bands don’t prop each other up and instead “cut each other’s throats,” Thorpe said.
That’s one reason why he felt the need to build Space and Faders, which currently has 14 practice rooms available to rent out — some monthly and some hourly.
At the center of the space is a lounge with couch seating, a couple of arcade games and walls littered with art and concert posters, where artists can meet and hang out with each other.
“How many guitar players hang out with a f---ing abstract painter?” Thorpe said. “But it’s very important for those people to know each other because their struggles are the same.”
Not every room is the same. The business provides some that are already set up so bands can just “plug in and play,” as well as empty rooms where people have to bring in their own gear.
There’s also a studio that can be rented out for podcasts, videography or photography. Still in the process of building the place, Thorpe has a vision for even more room options — which could include an editing workspace, a recording studio and other multi-purpose rooms.
Kameron Anton is the banjo player for Folk Hogan, the first band to start practicing in Space and Faders in early 2021. He said Thorpe’s concept is “refreshing and needed.”
“Speaking as a musician, how cool would it be to be at a space where you can rehearse your music, get promo photos done by a professional photographer, be on a podcast, get album cover art done, and hang out with all of the above individuals in one place?” Anton said.
Thorpe first bought the 13,000 square feet building — which used to be an FBI call center — in South Salt Lake to bring his vision to life in February 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the following month, Thorpe was unable to do his regular job of managing stages.
“It was like, well, what else am I going to do?” Thorpe said. “My entire world is closed.”
And there was plenty of work to do at the space. On average, Thorpe said he’s probably spent 12-18 hours a day there since then — doing about 90% of the work himself with occasional help from friends. At times, there’s been a sizeable learning curve, but he likes the freedom of doing it his way.
“I had a couple of people come and go, but usually it’s just me doing it because my mind changes,” Thorpe said.
‘We all love being down there’
For the past six months, the band Endless Struggle has shared a monthly room with a couple of other bands. Bassist Darren Hutchison said it’s a little more expensive than other practice spaces in Salt Lake City, but it’s worth it to worry less about stolen equipment or flooding — something they’ve had to deal with before.
Racist Kramer, a band that’s been using the space since early 2021, has practiced in a variety of places over the past 15-plus years, but guitarist Grason Roylance said nothing comes close to Space and Faders.
“It’s a safe, secure space with a bunch of great people so we all love being down there,“ Roylance said. “ ... Our old spaces were either in warehouses, garages or in other practice facilities that didn’t always feel like we were getting our money’s worth.”
Roylance added that while Thorpe’s work doesn’t land him in the spotlight, “everything he’s done with the space is to help other people.”
Thorpe plans to do more community-based events at the space such as “Drum Shed,” which was held for the first time this month. It involved providing 10 drum kits for people to play on and connect with local musicians. He plans for it to be a monthly event moving forward.
“[Artists] need a place to be, to interact with other like-minded people, other art-minded individuals that are there for the same goal which is feeding … that angst to be doing what they love,” Thorpe said.