By C.G. Aaron
The Bakery can be tough to find if you’re uninitiated. It’s an old warehouse that sits next to a high rise interchange where I-79 twists into I-64 and heads south down the West Virginia Turnpike. It is buttressed by a single giant billboard that stretches into the sky, hoping to catch the attention of commuters moving at full speed, designed to convince them that wearing a Rolex might be nice.
The old warehouse, formerly the Purity Bread Factory and now known as The Bakery, is a difficult place to Google. You’re better off searching for its next door neighbor, Barney’s Sports Bar. Either way, the warehouse sits at 1007 Bigley Avenue in Charleston, and houses studio space for local artists and musicians. Hole in the Wall Studio is located here, as is Limelight Theatre Troupe, and Greg Hunt Recording Studios. Moreover, a number of bands utilize space in The Bakery, including Farnsworth, Time & Distance, The Beggars Clan, Gold Town, and John Poole’s projects.
Byzantine calls The Bakery home and has recorded three music videos there. Their most recent video shoot, “Vile Maxim” off the forthcoming album “The Cicada Tree” on Metal Blade Records, was livestreamed by the band via Facebook.
On July 17, Byzantine front man Chris “OJ” Ojeda again took to Facebook to share news that The Bakery is in trouble. In a post to the Charleston Music & Art Collective, OJ explained that The Bakery, a historic one hundred year old structure “located four blocks away from the Elk City Restoration Project” has the potential to be a centralized hub for art and music in the Charleston area. In order to harness that potential, The Bakery must be saved.
The old warehouse has issues with the roof and the HVAC and currently has more vacancies than tenants, a situation which has the owner contemplating a possible foreclosure. Despite the needed repairs, OJ describes The Bakery as a safe and convenient facility for local bands and artists. Security cameras are installed throughout the building, multiple bathrooms are available, and bands have 24 hour access to an interior loading dock and service elevators for their gear.
In order to save The Bakery, OJ formed the Charleston Music & Art Collective. The Collective currently exists as a public Facebook Group, but is ultimately a four-phase plan to save The Bakery and restore lifeblood to the local scene. If the campaign is a success, The Bakery could be the future location of all things artistic and inspirational in our city.
Byzantine will finish their U.S. Tour in October, and plans to draw further attention to the project with “a good old fashioned ALL AGES rock show.” The donation-only Byzantine show, planned to take place in The Bakery’s loading dock, can become reality only if we act now to #SaveTheBakery. For more information on what you can do to help, join the Charleston Music & Art Collective on Facebook.
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