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Regional News

Allen Stone to Perform in Virtual "Small Business Live" to Benefit Terrain

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Quinn Russell Brown
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Small businesses across the country have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, as have artists and musicians. A virtual event this Saturday [today] is bringing the two together with big name musical acts supporting communities across the country, including here in the Inland Northwest.

That’s soul musician Allen Stone, who grew up in Chewelah and now calls Spokane home, from his recent appearance on NPR’s popular Tiny Desk Concert video series. In the pre-coronavirus world, videos like this helped musicians connect with their fans and music lovers discover new artists. But since the pandemic shut down venues and parked tour buses, online events have become the only outlet. 

On June 20th, Stone will join an eclectic lineup of musical acts like Ms. Lauryn Hill, Brandi Carlile, Nathaniel Rateliff, and T-Pain for a nation-wide virtual concert called Small Business Live. Each artist will live-stream their performance from a small business in their community. Stone’s choice was Spokane non-profit, Terrain.

“Because Terrain and From Here support so many independent artists,” Stone says “And so essentially supporting them supports a large network of other small businesses. It totally felt like the right call for that purpose.”

From Here is Terrain’s storefront in Spokane’s River Park Square which sells gifts, art, handmade items by local artists. For Terrain Executive Director Ginger Ewing, the choice was a surprise.

“So I got a text about a week and a half ago saying ‘hey, can we chat,’” she says. “And I’m pretty excited that I returned that text.”

It’s a chance for Terrain to be highlighted alongside other small businesses in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New Orleans. Ewing hopes it will be a chance to highlight the mission of Terrain, which is best known for its annual showcase event each fall.

“We really view ourselves as a community-building organization first and foremost. And our vehicle, our method, is art and creativity. And again, the more that we can help to expose who these people are, who these creative businesses are, then we’re doing our job.

For Allen Stone, who moved from Chewelah to Seattle in his twenties to pursue his music career, it’s a chance to give back to the community now he calls home when he’s not on the road touring. 

“The big city thing just doesn’t really appeal to me.” Stone says. “Maybe it’s because I was raised in the country, but I really love Spokane and the size of Spokane. Your dollar doesn’t go very far over there in Seattle. Granted, the sushi is a little better over there, but you’ve got to make sacrifices.”

Stone says he’s thrilled to be sharing the bill with such an eclectic and acclaimed lineup for the event. But that won’t be the main focus.

“It’s really an attempt to highlight these small businesses and shine a light on just how important these small businesses are to the fabric of America, the fingerprint of our country, I think. And they’re struggling man, they’re hurting. These small businesses are kind of lagging along.”

In addition to highlighting those small businesses around the country, the Small Business Live event will also raise money for Accion Opportunity Fund which provides grants to at-risk small businesses hit hardest by COVID-19, with a focus on those run by women and people of color.

That’s important for Terrain’s Ginger Ewing as well.

“The beautiful thing about small businesses, be it Terrain or any other small business in Spokane or throughout the country, is that whether you’re a non-profit or you’re a small record store or you’re a restaurant, small businesses across the country make people feel like they are a part of something. They’re a part of the community.”

You can live stream Small Business Live via TikTok, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Allen Stone is scheduled to kick the event off, live from Spokane, at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Details and the full lineup can be found at the event website: smallbiz.live.