GREENFIELD — The music venue whose direction is largely community-driven has changed ownership and opened a new chapter in its business with hopes for a sustainable future.
Ann Buxton and Alex Noonan purchased a 10 forward from owner Sarah Lanzillotta after the birth of their second child. They hope to implement a more organized management component to support its survival while maintaining many of the venue’s staples under Mesa Verde on Fiske Avenue.
“This place is inclusive, queer, weird, best-of-breed, and experimental,” Buxton said of 10 Forward.
Charlemont residents Wendell Reinheimer and Shana Totino first launched in July 2016 as The Root Cellar, a venue focused on all types of acoustic and electronic music. The club briefly changed owners in 2018, with ownership transferred to his Lanzillotta and Paul LaBrecque in 2019. Like Buxton and Noonan, Langirotta and Labrecque worked in the Root Cellar under the previous owner, named after his USS Enterprise bar/lounge in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’. Chose to rebrand as 10 Forward.
Buxton and Noonan said Langillotta called a meeting for all the workers and volunteers at the venue in August 2022, at which time she wanted to spend more time with her family and owned 10 forwards. He explained that he was giving up his rights.
“This would have been a terrible loss for the community and for us,” said Noonan, who was a bartender at 10 Forward at the time. Lanzillotta wanted someone in the club’s community to buy the venue or put it up for sale on the open market.
A young couple from Springfield, now living in South Deerfield, dreamed of owning a stand-up comedy club and t-shirt printing community space, so they decided to step up and buy 10 Forward.
“Working with Sarah was the scariest, coolest way to move from hot Virgo energy to hot Virgo energy,” Buxton said of the club’s ownership. He talked about his experience of transferring.
Noonan cited her excellent eye for business operations and past successful collaborations with partners as examples of why her management team helps her grow the business.
“Sarah was more experimental in running the business,” said Noonan.
The two explained that anyone with an idea can participate in 10 forward events and host an event. The venue has hosted many sold-out shows by touring and local acts, including punk band Space Camp and comedian Neil Hamburger. But the venue is also open to any event, including something as simple as “three friends and a banjo,” Noonan said.
“Artistic expression is at our core,” Buxton continued. “I’m here to make friends, not money.”
Having worked as a stand-up comedian for several years, Buxton has connections with most local venues. The couple isn’t worried about competition between companies, she said. Rather, they hope to continue building relationships with other owners, and between 10 Forward and The Her Majestic Her Saloon in Northampton, another her LGBTQ bar and community her space. I’m talking about deepening ties.
While Lanzillotta specialized in connecting with touring bands, Buxton explained that he has connections with other musicians and comedians.
“The community is gaining momentum,” Buxton said. “We keep carrying the torch.”
The two hope to grow their popular and regularly planned events under new owners, which include astrology-themed monthly raves, weekly karaoke, and a variety of comedy shows. He said the community plans to guide the direction of the club.
We also want to nurture new talents by providing a place for lessons and performances. Buxton and Noonan have brought back a monthly “Open Deck” where people can learn how to DJ. With this in mind, they are raising money for their in-house DJ equipment.
“If someone hasn’t come to our space, check it out. We want people to come and make the space what they want it to be,” Buxton said.
For more information, including a regularly updated list of events, visit 10forwardartsvenue.org or 10 Forward’s Instagram page.
Bella Levavi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-930-4579.