The Show Goes On at Pump House Music Works

Live concerts return to the Wakefield venue after taking a hit from a damaging fire in spring

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As pandemic restrictions have eased, many music venues spent spring eagerly planning for a busy summer of shows. Wakefield’s Pump House Music Works was among them until disaster struck on May 6 when a fire ripped through the venue. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but damage was extensive.

“It’s been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks,” said Pump House president Dan Collins just after the fire struck. “I’m still processing everything, but in hindsight I’m feeling very lucky that no one was hurt. We had substantial losses inside the building as the fire was in an area where we store all our musical equipment.”

Pump House is a popular non-profit that presents concerts and other events in their intimate 125-person space. National touring artists and locals share the stage, along with several open mic events held weekly. Over the past few years, the venue has become one of South County’s premier live music spots, with shows every weekend.

Although the fire was contained to one area of the building, it was centered in the “green room,” where most of the audio equipment is stored. The biggest loss hit Collins personally – among the items destroyed in the fire was his collection of handmade instruments that he built over the last 30 years. “It’s hard to put a value on some of that stuff. It’s a big bummer; I’m really depressed about that – it’s all just sort of hitting me now,” says Collins.

“We have an outdoor stage and tent, and after the fire happened, we really got into gear to make sure that we could at least hold fundraisers and things like that outside,” he continues. The venue had some insurance, but it didn’t cover everything. “The fire damage to the building was covered, but much of the equipment inside was not.” 

Of course, as they say in the entertainment business, “the show must go on.” Within a couple of weeks, after smoke damage was abated, the venue resumed indoor performances. They plan to continue live indoor and outdoor shows throughout the summer. At press, a Benefit Concert Series is in the works, which will be streamed on their new YouTube this summer.

Even before the fire, plans were in motion to improve the facility. “I’m putting in a commercial kitchen so that we can sell food in the future. That was a big project that we had planned for this year,” says Collins. 

Although the fire was certainly a setback, Collins appreciates the community response. “I’m just really grateful for all the support we’ve seen for live music in Rhode Island. I’ve been amazed at the outpouring of support from fans of Pump House and the musicians for donating time and helping us generate funds. It’s been really touching.” 

With a long journey still ahead, Pump House Music Works is looking for a little help from their friends – come out to a concert to show your support; check the full line-up online. PumpHouseMusicWorks.com

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