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The Recorder – Community-driven music venue under new ownership in Greenfield

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GREENFIELD — The music venue whose direction is largely guided by the community has changed ownership, opening a new chapter in the business’ life with hope for a sustainable future.

Ang Buxton and Alex Noonan bought 10 Forward from owner Sarah Lanzillotta after the birth of her second child. They hope to keep many of the staples of the venue that is located beneath Mesa Verde on Fiske Avenue while also implementing more organized managerial components to support its longevity.

“This place is inclusive, queer, weird, in the best way, and experimental,” Buxton said of 10 Forward.

Charlemont residents Wendell Rheinheimer and Shana Totino first opened the business as The Root Cellar — a venue focusing on all types of acoustic and electric music — in July 2016. The club changed hands briefly in 2018 before ownership was transferred to Lanzillotta and Paul LaBrecque in 2019. Like Buxton and Noonan, Lanzillotta and LaBrecque had worked at The Root Cellar under the previous owner, and chose to rebrand it as 10 Forward, named after the bar/lounge on the USS Enterprise on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Buxton and Noonan said Lanzillotta called a meeting for all the venue’s workers and volunteers in August 2022, at which time she explained she wanted to spend more time with her family and would be giving up ownership of 10 Forward.

“This would have been a terrible loss to the community and a terrible loss to us,” said Noonan, who was a bartender at 10 Forward at the time. Lanzillotta hoped someone in the club’s community would purchase the venue, or else she would put it up for sale on the general market.

The young couple from Springfield, who now lives in South Deerfield, had dreams of owning a stand-up comedy club as well as a T-shirt printing community space, so they decided to step up and purchase 10 Forward.

“Working with Sarah was hot Virgo energy to hot Virgo energy in the scariest, coolest way,” Buxton said to describe their experience transferring ownership of the club.

Noonan cited her great eye for business operations and success working with her partner in the past as examples of why her management will help the business grow.

“Sarah was running the business more experimentally,” Noonan noted.

The two explained anyone with any idea can come to 10 Forward and host events. The venue has hosted many sold-out shows of touring or local acts, such as punk band Space Camp and comedian Neil Hamburger. But the venue also opens its doors to any event, including something as simple as “three friends and a banjo,” Noonan said.

“Artistic expression is at our core,” Buxton continued. “I am here trying to make friends, not money.”

Having worked as a stand-up comedian for several years, Buxton has connections with most local venues. The couple said they are not concerned about competition between businesses. Rather, they hope to continue building relationships with other owners, mentioning a growing connection between 10 Forward and The Majestic Saloon in Northampton, another LGBTQ bar and community space.

Lanzillotta specialized in connecting with touring bands, but Buxton explained they have connections with other musicians as well as stand-up comedians.

“The community is gaining momentum,” Buxton said. “We are continuing to carry the torch.”

The two said astrology-themed monthly raves, weekly karaoke and diverse comedy shows are popular, regularly planned events they hope to grow under the new ownership, but they plan to let the community guide the direction of the club in the future.

They also hope to cultivate new talent by providing lessons and a space to perform. Buxton and Noonan have revived monthly “open decks,” where people can learn how to DJ. With this in mind, they are raising money for in-house DJ equipment.

“If someone hasn’t come to our space, they should check it out. We want people to come and make the space what they want it to be,” Buxton said.

Visit or 10 Forward’s Instagram page for more information, including a regularly updated list of events.

Bella Levavi can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4579.

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