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"It was nearly closed for a year, and the fact that the city finally compromised and allowed it to start operating again felt like this big war was won. The reopening was great," Jenkins says. ITR started up again on February 20, 2009.
After nearly two more years of fostering the development of the local scene, Wolfe shifted his focus to his career in Web development. He continued running ITR until early 2011, when Jenkins and fellow volunteer Andy Peterson took charge of booking duties.
"In my mind it had been a fixture of the Belleville music scene for years. At the time Josh and I took over, it was either we run the place or nobody does, which would've been a devastating blow to the scene," Peterson says.
8 S. Church St.
Belleville, IL 62220
Category: Music Venues
Region: Belleville/ Fairview Heights
Peterson had always been involved with ITR, but his growing role bred changes in the venue's last year of operation. Peterson took an active role in booking and made additions, including a distro table to sell records and tapes.
"It started as just one room to play shows in, but we kind of envisioned it being much more multipurpose. One of the first things we did was clean out the basement, which soon became known as Tarpland," Peterson says. "Then we got the idea to have outdoor shows in the back courtyard, so we cleaned that out as well."
Jenkins and Peterson pulled from their own shallow pockets to keep ITR alive, birthing a concession stand to help pay the ever-growing costs of operation. Despite challenges with shrinking attendance and enthusiasm, Jenkins and Peterson have stayed persistent in keeping the space alive. ITR faced the many trials all small venues do.
"Sometimes local bands drop off the day of the show, leaving a gaping hole in the lineup. Sometimes touring bands don't show up, and they don't answer your phone calls. Sometimes equipment breaks or the power goes out," Peterson says. "Sometimes nobody comes to the show, which I think is probably the worst thing that could happen."
After four years of working through all of it, the tough decision to close the doors has been made. The venue is going out on January 31 with the same party atmosphere it started with. Seven bands are confirmed, including the reunion of Oh No You Didn't!, as well as the Vanilla Beans, Dem Scientist, Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship, Suburban Epidemic, French Fry Guys and Spastic Plastic. The show will offer up its loudest slice of aural heaven to the denizens of Belleville.
Jenkins and Peterson wanted to have the last hurrah on the venue's last day of operation, meaning a weekend shindig — when it's easier to draw a crowd — is out. This is an event for the enthusiasts. The lineup is stacked and diverse, pulling the artists together who have spent their sweat and effort at ITR for a spirited sendoff.
"The major focus of Illegal Tone Recordings was the idea of creating a positive environment where anyone could come to and enjoy, no elitism or pretensions," Jenkins says.