Open since 2004, the Alley has brought mainstream and independent bands to the Rail City. Owner Jonathan Chapin has been in the music industry for 20 years, booking bands for various venues all over the west coast. He worked as a music technician, manning the soundboard at Vixen’s, when its owner put the establishment for sale. Chapin and his business partner, Jeremy Abts, a former band manager, bought Vixen’s, remodeled the inside and renamed it the Alley, named for the back alley bands drive into, to unload their things. They opened in May, with the Saddle Tramps playing, starting off the Alley’s successful run with unknown bands that would eventually run into local favorites.
“We play everything: hip hop, ska, punk, big band, radio to underground,” said Chapin. “We’ve had some big names play here like Panic at the Disco and All-American Rejects.”
Despite the popular bands, the Alley caters to local music. They often host local band competitions, where musicians can compete for monetary prizes and local name recognition.
“We’re not just a bar,” said Chapin. “We do a lot of community service events. I was the MC for the Pumpkin Palooza in October. We host benefit shows and rent out the space to companies for things like parties.”
The Alley also hosts karaoke nights and rock n’ roll trivia events with KRZQ disc jokey, Chris Payne, where participants can win money, bar tabs and show tickets.
Things haven’t been how they used to be for the Alley.
“Thursday’s farmers market got smaller. Sparks didn’t host any Street Vibrations events this year. We’re low on foot traffic in this area. People are not stopping in to check things out,” said Chapin. The Alley hosts a weekly $1 beer night that was once popular in the past. Now, Chapin said that the popular event is not getting the turn out as it once did.
“People should come out to the Alley. We have an outgoing staff and we make you feel welcome.”
Despite being in Sparks, the owners of the Alley want more Reno music lovers to come out and support the venue.
“It’s an interesting phenomenon to me,” said Chapin. “People will drive for miles to go to things like the grocery store. They think that Sparks is so far away and don’t bother driving out. We have some really great, affordable shows that everyone could enjoy.”
The Alley staff is constantly posting events and specials on its website and Facebook page.
“We’re one of the last mom and pop venues left standing,” said Chapin. “Come in and enjoy the staff and sounds.”
For more information, visit www.thealleysparks.com.