For one final time in 2020, Neato Burrito/Baby Bar will be serving live music in its New Year’s Eve Time Machine benefit livestream, with proceeds supporting live music and mental health organizations.
Led by Norman Robbins and Luis Mota of entertainment management company Palimpsest Group, the four-hour themed benefit starting at 8:30 p.m. Thursday will host upwards of 20 bands and solo artists across the country, including local groups, playing 10-minute sets apiece.
“It’s kind of making this cool environment of just bringing these people that you’d normally go see onstage, and now you get to see them in their living room wearing their pajamas and playing music,” Robbins said.
The supported organizations include the For the Nomads fundraiser for touring road crews, the Keep Music Live WA relief fund for independently owned music venues in Washington, Art With Impact for supporting positive mental health in artistic creators and the Spokane-based nonprofit aLifeYounited for suicide prevention.
For the lineup, Robbins and Mota drew from their networks of bands that they’ve either played or toured with in their own bands or ones that have played at Neato Burrito.
“We just reached out to all of these bands and asked them if they would do a short set, and a lot of people said yes. It’s been really awesome,” Robbins said.
The year-ending benefit concert is the culmination of months of weekly livestreams arranged by Robbins and Mota that have given local entertainers a stage since September.
“We’re working on streaming shows pretty much every week,” Robbins said. “We’re constantly working on the material for that, and that’s just kind of become our job in the middle of all this hectic craziness.”
Co-owner Patty Tully, who worked at the space for 18 years before purchasing and converting it into Neato Burrito/Baby Bar with co-owner Tim Lannigan in 2007, said they were immediately onboard when Robbins and Mota approached them with the idea of having live music again.
“They came to us and asked if we would be willing to host it. … We knew right away we wanted to be a part of it,” Tully said. “It has become such a place for bands and more of a venue in the last few years.”
For Mota, a tour manager who has worked at venues in Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and Seattle, having Neato Burrito/Baby Bar as a space to record shows and coordinate an event that’s supporting causes close to him has significance.
“It hits close to home, being an old venue owner and venue manager, seeing a lot of my friends who own venues right now who are going through this,” Mota said. “Keep Music Alive is helping them out by raising money to keep their doors open.
“For the Nomads is an organization that helps touring staff like roadies, sound guys, lighting guys, lighting directors, tour managers, all of the stuff that’s behind the scenes.”
Tully said that the shows have meant just as much to her and Lannigan.
“I think we both got teary-eyed,” said Tully of seeing bands return to the venue space. “This is what we loved about it. … All of those local bands we know when they played there, it was just good to see everyone on that stage.”
Mota is quick to give credit for making the show happen, saying, “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t really be here.”
As 2021 nears, the anticipation is growing just as fast for Robbins, whose own band, BaLonely, is set to play in the stream.
“It’s going to be short and sweet, but I’m really excited to have a really big showcase of all these bands and just give everybody some solid entertainment for New Year’s,” Robbins said. “There’s a lot of different kinds of music that is going to be happening every 10 minutes. We’re really excited about it.”
Still, what’s not forgotten is the reason for the stream in the first place – showing hope and support in a time where audiences, creators and communities need both.
“That’s all that this is for,” Tully said. “It’s not even a question, that’s just what you do, that’s what we have to do.”