by Brad Carlson, photos by Mark Dyrud
Wednesday nights this summer, on a culturally rich block that can hold more people than its intimate atmosphere suggests, employees at The Basque Museum & Cultural Center will work late so they can be available to a couple thousand more people.
The museum will extend its Wednesday hours to align with Alive After Five, the 30-year-old weekly concert and event series in downtown Boise. This year’s series, June 1-Aug. 31, will be staged in the Basque Block rather than its longtime site in nearby Grove Plaza, which is unavailable due to construction.
“We’re hoping that with it being held on the Basque Block, it will bring a lot of people in who normally would not come in,” said Wendy Bauer, front-end manager at the museum, a popular destination on the block that encompasses Grove Street between Capitol Boulevard and Sixth Street.
Staging Alive After Five at a new site presents new opportunities along with some challenges inherent in relocations. Remembering that the 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday event moved might be the first challenge, though the Basque Block is wellknown and well-liked.
“They are going to find the music one way or another,” said Pat Rice, who manages the Boise Centre convention building in Grove Plaza. “They will find the party.”
“One of the neat things about the Basque Block is that it showcases Boise’s history but is in the shadow of Boise’s future,” said Downtown Boise Association Executive Director Lynn Hightower, referring to neighboring major building construction. DBA puts on Alive After Five with Capital City Development Corp. and other sponsors.
Hightower said she expects the block, which is popular and has hosted big events, to create a unique energy. Alive After Five attendance, typically 2,500 to 3,000 each Wednesday, shouldn’t change.
The temporary move from Grove Plaza means a different set of walk-in businesses can benefit. But big events going on outside the front door can add responsibilities as well as customers.
Craig West, who has worked as a bartender for about nine years at Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery in the Basque Block, said the establishment staffs up for big events. Certain responsibilities can become more important, like making sure no Bardenay alcohol drinks go outside, and no alcohol drinks from outside come in, per law. West said he expects Alive After Five to boost the establishment’s Wednesday night business, which also rose when the event was at Grove Plaza.
Musicians will adapt load-in procedures and equipment setups to the Basque Block’s stage, on the Capitol Boulevard end.
“This is part of the musician’s community. This is how we roll,” said Mike Elliott of Gig’s Music and Audio Services, which handles sound for Alive After Five and has worked Basque Block events before.
“Typically we adjust.”
Hightower said Alive After Five is the community’s premier weekly event for summer. “And that’s going to continue on
the Basque Block,” she said.
“It will be a different view for everybody,” said the museum’s Bauer. “Plus, the Basque Block is just beautiful this time of year.”
For more information:
Downtown Boise Association