Local Current Blog

Hook & Ladder booking director Jackson Buck on the new Hook Stream series

The Hook & Ladder photographed in 2016, just as it opened under that name. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)

Morning Show host Jill Riley checked in with Jackson Buck, the booking director of the Hook & Ladder Theater and Lounge, to talk about the status of the building after the uprising in its neighborhood, as well as their new virtual streaming series, Hook Stream.

Jill Riley: Jackson, how are you doing?

Jackson Buck: I’m doing fine, Jill. Nice to chat with you.

You guys are doing something very special, Hook Stream, and I want to talk more about that in just a little bit, but what was it like during the unrest and rioting? What was it like to watch that go down in the neighborhood and not know if the Hook & Ladder Theater was going to be standing at the end of it?

Well, you hit the nail right on the head there. We, obviously, were watching it from home. We weren’t there at the time. We were watching the news coverage. The Hook & Ladder Theater is right next door to the Third Precinct, which, of course, got burnt down. I kept seeing the footage, and kept turning to my wife to say, “Oh, we’re still standing. We’re still standing, but we’re not going to make it. It’s going to burn down.” The whole neighborhood – most of the other businesses and structures in the neighborhood were burned down. I thought maybe some flames from the precinct would come over and hit us in the roof and burn it from the top down or something.

I don’t know why, but we managed to survive. We did have some people break in our side doors, so they got into our hallway between our main theater and our other performance center, the Mission Room. They set fire in there and did a bunch of destruction. The fortunate thing for us, in some regards, is that the sprinkler system kicked in. It doused the flames, however, the sprinkler system ran for many, many, many hours. We suffered significant water damage. Windows were broken, but by and large, the building is standing. It’s sturdy. We’re renovating right now, fixing things up, and when we get the go-ahead from the state, from the COVID situation, we’ll be ready to get back to live performances.

I was glued to the TV coverage, and I thought, “This beautiful community-run [building], run by volunteers, run by such great people, with such a great mission for quality performances. Please, please let that building stand at the end.” It was nothing short of a miracle to see that it’s still standing.

It really was, and we had that little tower on the top, so I was able to look at the cameras and I kept saying, “The tower is there. We’re still standing! We’re still standing!” Each night I went to bed, I didn’t expect the building to be standing the next morning.

Let’s talk about Hook Stream. What are you guys hoping to accomplish with the series?

Hook Stream is taking place in our smaller performance area, the Mission Room, which opens up into the parking lot. We have garage doors. It’s wide open. That room didn’t sustain significant damage, and it’s all been repaired to the point where we’re able to have our Hook Stream. Hook Stream is just…rather than somebody just sitting in their basement or garage strumming their guitar, which is great, I love those kind of streams, we’re coming in with a whole professional crew. We have a four-camera shoot. We have professional sound and lighting.

We kicked it off the other night with Davina & the Vagabonds. I watched from home, rather than going in, and it was incredibly done, very well produced. We’re having a series throughout the whole summer with, like, 18 different performers. The reason we’re doing it is to keep the music alive, give the artists a place to perform, and make a little bit of money. We’re donating some of the proceeds to various charities around town. We’re compensating the musicians, and of course, the staff that’s putting it all together. I do want to thank The Current for their sponsorship of the series, by the way.

This is a really nice diverse lineup of the Minnesota music scene.

We’re just trying to showcase a wide range of artists and genres of music, like we always do. We’re going to strive to even do more of that in the future, as we get back to full business mode.