Westminster alumnus paves the way for local artists

Andres Escobar, a Westminster College alumnus, prepares for a local band to take the stage at his new music venue. “How The Borough came about was that I found this [ad] on Instagram,” said Escobar, who is a co-owner of The Borough. “I tagged my friend [now co-owner of The Borough] Michael Paulsen. I was like, ‘Hey, this shop looks pretty sweet. We should go for it.’” Photo by Hasib Hussainzda

Andres Escobar, a Westminster College alumnus, prepares for a local band to take the stage at his new music venue. “How The Borough came about was that I found this [ad] on Instagram,” said Escobar, who is a co-owner of The Borough. “I tagged my friend [now co-owner of The Borough] Michael Paulsen. I was like, ‘Hey, this shop looks pretty sweet. We should go for it.’” Photo by Hasib Hussainzda

Senior communication major Olivia Wathne sings at her debut concert at The Borough, a local music venue owned by a Westminster College alumnus. “[Pursuing a career is music] is just like a huge thing,” Wathne said. “But I want to do it.” Photo by Hasib Hussainzda

Senior communication major Olivia Wathne sings at her debut concert at The Borough, a local music venue owned by a Westminster College alumnus. “[Pursuing a career is music] is just like a huge thing,” Wathne said. “But I want to do it.” Photo by Hasib Hussainzda

The Borough, located on 819 E. 2100 South, is a new Sugar House music venue bringing free live music from local and out-of-state bands to music fans of all age groups.

Andres Escobar, a Westminster College alumnus who graduated in 2015, co-owns The Borough with Michael Paulsen and said the idea to create the venue came to him after seeing an Instagram post. Escobar said the post advertised available space in the back of an existing shop. He told Paulsen about the space, and the two began planning.

“I was like, ‘Hey, this shop looks pretty sweet. We should go for it,’” Escobar said. “Then we met the owner. He showed me the space, and the first thing I thought of was a music venue.”

Escobar said The Borough’s focus is on showcasing local music but that the venue also welcomes out-of-state musicians.

“There are some music venues around here that [support local music] well, like Diabolical Records and Kilby Court,” Escobar said. “But [we] felt like Sugar House needed its own scene––its own music department.”

Escobar said local artists have priority when booking a spot at The Borough. As a member of the local band Indigo Plateau, he said he understands the value of an opportunity when a lesser-known band gets to share its music. Escobar said mainly inviting Westminster musicians to play at The Borough is his way of giving back to the community,

Olivia Wathne––who laughingly calls herself “the girl with the guitar” and goes by her stage name Liv Clare––played live at The Borough on Dec. 1. Wathne is a senior communication major from Pocatello, Idaho and said that though she’s performed at open mics around Salt Lake and for her friends, it was her first time playing at The Borough.

Wathne said the fact that a Westminster alumnus is behind The Borough’s initiative to start a music scene in Sugar House is “neat.” Especially because she said there’s not a big music scene on Westminster’s campus.

Wathne first met Escobar from a journalism class at Westminster.

Photo by Hasib Hussainzda

Photo by Hasib Hussainzda

“It is important to maintain college relationships, and someone [who] might open a business that you could work for [in the future],” Wathne said.

Christian Minton, the guitarist for the local band Static Nostalgia, is a Westminster alumnus. Minton said it’s nice knowing that the owner of The Borough is associated with Westminster because he said these personal relationships create a better experience for everyone.

“Andres treats us with respect when we are there,” Minton said after Static Nostalgia performed at the venue on Nov. 14. “Sometimes, you know, like, depending on who shows up for a show, how many people, the whole business side of it, that makes a real difference [when] they are really respectful. And Andres Escobar really is [respectful].”

Wathne is about to graduate from college and said she plans on pursuing a career in music―but said she hasn’t made a definite plan about it yet.

“I loved playing at The Borough, not only because it's owned by a good friend and Westminster graduate but because it also has the coolest vibes,” Wathne said. “It's just one simple basement room, but when you stuff a bunch of people in there to listen to some great music, the place transforms and becomes this awesome space for a live performance.”

Updated at 8:28 PM on December 8, 2016: A previous version of the article published without correctly stating that Christian Minton is a Westminster alumnus.