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“It’s a really good feeling to know that the community has our back.” Café CODA weathers the pandemic with GoFundMe, streaming concerts

Hanah Jon Taylor, outside the new Cafe Coda.

It has been a rough few months for Café CODA, a popular space for world-class jazz and creative music on Madison’s near east side that has had to stop live performances because of the coronavirus pandemic. Café CODA owner and renowned jazz musician Hanah Jon Taylor really wants to keep the club alive because it fills a jazz-music void in this city.

“This is a very unique moment for most everything in our economy, especially the arts,” Taylor tells Madison365. “I think it’s important that we maintain this venue because eventually when this passes there is going to be a real need for cultural venues and we are hoping that we can stay open long enough to stem the course of the pandemic.”

Café CODA was famous for its constant live music, usually from Wednesday to Sunday every week, from a variety of diverse artists locally and from around the world. When the pandemic put an end to that, a GoFundMe was set up by Jan Lin Tetzner, the marketing specialist at Café CODA, which has helped to keep the beloved jazz club alive while other clubs, unfortunately, have gone under. 

“After the last live performance concert that we hosted was when we knew that nobody would be coming in the future because of COVID and that’s when I decided that a GoFundMe would be necessary to keep the club going,” Tetzner tells Madison365. “We are lucky to have the support that we have had so far. Hanah has a lot of friends in the community and they really support him.”

Tetzner says that she had never done a fundraiser like this before in her life and that it is heartwarming to see the community support. 

“At first, I didn’t know if people were going to donate at all. The first few concerts we got some great donations but nowadays the donations have gone down quite a bit,” she says. “We are lucky to be able to do the GoFundMe because, without it, we could not pay the bills.”

Café CODA Live Global Streaming, supported by the GoFundMe link and presented on Facebook, has given musicians a chance to play their music during the coronavirus pandemic and has helped to keep the club alive over the last few months. Since March, the GoFundMe has raised $15,751 of its $20,000 goal.

“The beauty of the streaming is that it is a two-fold benefit,” Taylor says. “First of all, it’s keeping us alive by allowing us to maintain our utility bills and invest in streaming equipment. It’s also allowed for musicians to have a gig when there are basically no gigs in Madison. 

“We are proud that even if we can only produce duos and trios that we are still producing live music opportunities for musicians not only for a regional audience, but an international audience,” he adds. “We’re feeling pretty good about that.”

Taylor says that he’s also thankful for the generosity of his landlords, Brandt Investment Group.

“I think that it is important to note that there are other clubs that have gone out of business because their landlords are not giving them the consideration of rent abatement,” Taylor says. “I am just so happy and delighted and thankful that Brandt Investments, our landlord, gave us a rent abatement. They’ve agreed to suspend our rent until we open again. It’s been huge for us. What a big help.”

Money raised in the Café CODA GoFundMe goes towards live streaming concerts from Café CODA every weekend, along with paying the staff and musicians.

“Of the proceeds of the GoFundMe, a third of it goes to the production of the event because we have to have technicians, a third goes to the musicians who are performing and a third goes to Café CODA to purchase other equipment and to pay our bills,” Taylor says.

“I’m really grateful for the community support we have received so far,” he adds. “It’s a really good feeling to know that the community has our back.”