Recession forces Crash Music owners to move out of state

Crash Music may remain open as a nonprofit organization and continue to offer music lessons

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
The owners of Crash Music at the Aztec Theater have announced they are moving to Tucson, Ariz., at the end of the month.

AZTEC — After more than five years of providing music lessons and concerts in their downtown theater, Crash Music owners George Rowe and Sue Rys have announced they will be moving to Tucson, Ariz., at the end of the month.

There will be a goodbye party and concert starting at 4 p.m. Oct. 29 at Crash Music at the Aztec Theater, 104 N. Main Ave.

The couple opened Crash Music in May 2012, and their venture was named Aztec Business of the Year in 2013.

More:Blues guitarist Eli Cook returns to Crash Music in Aztec

Rowe said he will provide patrons will details about the future plans for Crash Music during the goodbye event.

Rowe said they will be moving to Tucson due to the economic downturn in San Juan County.

"We were doing good up until about two years ago," Rowe said.

Co-owner George Rowe talks about closing Crash Music at the Aztec Theater on Friday.

The business started at a smaller location downtown at 108 S. Main Ave.  At first, it focused on music lessons.

"Most people like blues around here," Rowe said.

More:Ben Rice Trio performs at Crash Music

In 2013, Crash Music moved into the 8,000-square-foot, historic Aztec Theater. The larger location allowed Crash Music to book larger concerts. At first, its focus was blues, but soon Rowe and Rys began bringing in bands from other genres, as well including country, funk and old-time music.

Rowe said Crash Music catered mainly to a working-class audience. When the oil and natural gas industries entered a bust phase, the customers were not able to afford as much musical entertainment.

Crash Music co-owner George Rowe reflects on his time operating the business Friday in Aztec.

Rowe said he began to notice Crash Music's clientele and income declining.

"It's like a balloon that's slowly losing air," he said.

While other people in the community have expressed optimism that the oil and gas industries could turn around, Rowe said he does not think the energy industries will return.

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"We're making a transition to a renewable-energy economy," he said.

Rowe plans on continuing working in the music industry in Tucson, which has a more established arts scene.

"It's an old city," he said. "It's always had a Bohemian part to it."

Crash Music co-owner George Rowe says he plans to continue working in music business when he relocates to Tucson, Ariz., next month.

He also plans on returning to Aztec every six weeks and continuing to teach music via Skype.

Crash Music will likely be turned into a nonprofit organization, which will help subsidize some of the music lessons, he said.

Katee McClure, an Aztec city commissioner who has organized local blues music festivals, said she thinks it is a good move for Rowe and Rys. McClure would frequently help with the shows that were put on at Crash Music.

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"There were a handful of people who really loved it and frequented it," McClure said.

She said San Juan County residents often travel out of town for concerts rather than supporting local venues like Crash Music.

McClure said Tucson will benefit from Rowe's experience booking good bands.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.