TJ Hayes has been regularly attending shows in Chicago since 2015. Hayes, who has spina bifida myelomeningocele, checked in with Half Access to talk about their experiences with accessibility, where venues still have room to improve, and advocating for your right to accommodation.
Valerie Gritsch is the community manager for London-based indie label, Xtra Mile Recordings. As community manager, she handles all of their social media channels, in addition to managing their street team and other fan engagement efforts. A New York native, Gritsch is currently working towards her Masters degree at The Graduate Center, CUNY, where her research includes, but is not limited to, music fandom and celebrity studies. The subject of her thesis will focus on celebrity death and how fans create history. Gritsch—whose history of chronic nerve pain eventually led to fibromyalgia and myalgic encephalomyelitis (commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome)—caught up with us to talk about her experience in the music industry and what adequate accommodations can and should look like.
Brianna Snider is currently a student at Capital University in Columbus, OH, where she studies music technology and is the music director at the university’s own WXCU Radio. She is the co-founder of Blue Salt Records, and plays music under the name saltlick. Snider – who has a mild form of cerebral palsy, as well as scoliosis – caught up with Half Access to discuss her experiences with accessibility as both a spectator and performer.
Sean Gonzalez, one of our board members, virtually met Jessica through a music group on Facebook, sharing a common interest in bands and genres. After reading a few posts from Jessica, we reached out to discuss her disability, Cerebral Palsy, to spread some awareness.
Amber Nicole Wolfe, 20, has been regularly going to shows and getting involved in her local scene in Omaha, NE since 2016, and takes an occasional hour-long trip to Lincoln for shows as well. She’s autistic, and in our interview below, she explains her sensory sensitivity at shows, and shares experiences of both accessibility and inaccessibility at concerts.
Before I even knew how to advocate for myself through Half Access, back in 2014, at the now-extinct Alhambra in Portland, I was attending a Real Friends show in the front row and the band worked with security to make sure I was placed side-stage—safe from the crowd and with a good view of the show before their set began. Fast forward a couple of years and they did it again at the Wonder Ballroom—one of the venues that was a catalyst for me to start Half Access. Just recently, I caught them on their headlining tour in support of their new record, Composure, and was able to chat with bassist and tour manager, Kyle Fasel about their willingness to help their disabled fans.