Orpheum Theater

For more than a year now, the live entertainment industry has struggled to hang on as the COVID-19 pandemic brought gigs and revenue to a grinding halt. A federal grant program called the Save Our Stages Act, part of the American Rescue Plan, was supposed to help. But to date, none of the more than $16 billion has made it to local venues. That’s because the system crashed shortly after the program launched last month when thousands of eager people tried to apply online. The Small Business Administration says it’s back up and grants should start going out at the end of the month, good news for many in the music, theater and film industries. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius spoke with Susan Walter, general manager of the Orpheum Theater in Flagstaff, about the pressures she’s faced this last year trying to stay afloat and hopeful.


Independent live music venues in the U.S. were among the first businesses to close at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ll also be some of the last to open, and that’s put thousands of clubs and theaters on the cusp of going under, and has left scores of employees and touring bands without income. A bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate aims to throw the industry a lifeline by providing $10 billion in federal grants to pay rent, mortgage, payroll and other expenses venues have accumulated as nearly all their income has dried up. Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is a co-sponsor of the Save Our Stages Act and spoke with KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius.


Three decades ago the Verde Valley School established its Native American Scholarship fund. For many years, the annual fundraiser for the scholarship was organized by legendary singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. He became enchanted with the landscape and people of northern Arizona on a road trip many years ago. Now, in the COVID-19 era, Browne has revived the benefit concert as a virtual event with performers including Michael Franti, Shawn Colvin, Bruce Cockburn, Calexico and Sihasin. In the latest installment of KNAU’s series Eats and Beats, Browne recounts his lifelong love for the region made famous by a song he co-wrote with the Eagles’ Glen Frey.




Tim Mosenfelder/Corbis/

Larry Mullen, Jr., the drummer for the Irish rock band U2, has donated $100,000 to the Navajo-Hopi relief fund. It follows a surge of donations from Ireland for tribal assistance during the coronavirus pandemic. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Orpheum Theater

The live music industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. With virtually all shows and tours cancelled revenue has come to a halt for thousands of promoters across the country. One of northern Arizona’s biggest music venues, the Orpheum Theater, was having a banner year with sold out shows and packed calendar. But the economic shutdown forced managers to layoff dozens of full and part-time employees. The Orpheum has now joined other independent venues across the country to advocate for their industry. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius spoke with Orpheum owner Charles Smith and GM Susan Walter about how they’re planning for the future of live music.