February 21, 2008

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Ground Zero for rock that uplifts
Former Drifters manager plans to open new booze-free live music venue
By Alec O’Meara aomeara@hippopress.com

The former manager of Drifters in Nashua and, prior to that, the Café Eclipse in Concord, has resurfaced in Suncook with a new alcohol-free live music venue.

The Ground Zero Coffeehouse is the newest music venue opened by Christian and Starr Skinner, and it’s their first project since Drifters closed its doors approximately five months ago. Anyone familiar with the scene at Drifters will immediately recognize the new digs, said Christian, who is aiming for a March 7 opening.

Christian is a strong believer in both the positive and negative influences music can have on young people. As a child, he was deeply affected by hardcore metal acts of the day, he said, which led him on a darker path. However, upon discovering the Christian rock movement, specifically songs with a heavy metal sound but an uplifting message, Skinner found his life was headed in a new direction overnight. His clubs are an extension of those beliefs.

The Skinners keep a close watch on the content of the music at their establishments. Christian reads over all the lyrics of the songs bands may play on a given night, and if there is objectionable language or profanity, he asks for a change.

“Maybe one out of a hundred bands says no, they won’t change, and we say that we understand, but they just can’t play here,” Christian said, adding that he hosts bands playing all genres, from piano-driven rock to ska to hard rock. The Skinners do monitor for dark content, but the music doesn’t necessarily have to have a specifically Christian theme, he said.

“We are an inclusive venue,” he said, “not an exclusive one.”

Aside from music, Ground Zero will also offer coffee and other refreshments and will likely include other forms of recreation, including a pool table and some pinball machines. Christian hopes he can recruit some graffiti artists to help decorate the interior. Much of the student-made art from Drifters has also made the trip up to the new location at 50 Pinewood Road in Suncook.

Early artists lined up for the venue include Soul Fuel, Anaheim and Our Last Night, a Hollis-based Drifters staple that recently signed with a national label and is about to embark on a major tour.

Christian is also hoping to open up a skate shop inside the coffeehouse as a business with the business.

“Word is already spreading,” Christian said; he heard that some Suncook teens familiar with Drifters had heard that Ground Zero was opening. “They were all, ‘You guys have come to my town!’”

For more details on the opening of Ground Zero, visit www.groundzzzero.com.


Jeremy Jordan, left, and Tommy Spangler are teaming up to open the versatile Flambeaux Bar and Grill in Manchester. Alec O’Meara photo.