Cup O Joy to hold Christmas benefit concert

Accommodations have been made at new location to allow for social distancing

GREEN BAY — Another debut is fast approaching at the Cup O Joy, which has provided a venue for faith-based music and comedy for more than 30 years. On Saturday, Dec. 12, Cloverton, a contemporary Christian band from Kansas, will perform two Christmas shows (3 and 7 p.m.). The concerts will be the first in the large auditorium.

Volunteers Carol Hall, left, and David Van Lannen prepare a Christmas tree for the upcoming benefit concert at the Cup O Joy in Green Bay. The faith-based entertainment venue opened its new location in August. (Jeff Kurowski | The Compass)

This year, the Cup O Joy moved from its previous location on South Broadway in Green Bay to 525 N. Taylor St. on the city’s west side. The first concert in the new location was held on Aug. 15 in the smaller auditorium. The space is known as Cup2 because it’s designed after the former location, said Jan Oettinger, director of the Cup O Joy.

“The second one is patterned after the last building because people loved it and it felt like home,” she explained. “The big auditorium is Cup3. When we list shows, we will list them by rooms” (Cup1 is a small room on the north side of the building designed after the original location on North Broadway).

Oettinger described the past several months as “an amazing journey.” COVID-19 hit two weeks after construction started on the new location. Cup2 is set up as a socially-distanced room.

“There is a nice big space between the people and the artist,” said Oettinger. “Right now, a lot of artists are doing two shows a night. When we have a couple that sits in a pair of seats, I take a chair out. I’m lucky if I get 50 people in here. If you are a touring artist, you almost have to do two shows just to have enough people to pay their way.

“Most of the artists have been off for a long time,” she added. “They are suffering. It’s not good. I don’t know how many will be able to come back. They are rearranging their lives, especially if they have families. They are trying to make a living.”

Some artists have canceled, but the Cup O Joy has maintained a fairly full schedule on Friday and Saturday evenings.

“I’m trying to book a lot more local and regional artists and a lot more artists who can fly in and fly out,” said Oettinger. “There are a lot of talented people in the area. This is a great opportunity for people in the area to play some music in a beautiful space. They can invite their friends and family, and church people out to a socially distanced show to share their talents.”

Some national performers, such as Jason Gray, who performed at the Cup O Joy on Oct. 30, play solo concerts rather than with a band, as in the past. Open mic nights are also on the schedule. Due to the uncertainty of the current situation and possible cancellations, Oettinger suggests that concert goers check the Cup O Joy Facebook page “before you get in the car.”

The Cloverton Christmas shows will serve as the annual benefit concert for the Cup O Joy. Cup3, the large auditorium, seats 550 to 600 people, but every other row will be vacant and open seats will separate parties to allow for social distancing. Oettinger estimates that each show will accommodate approximately 200 concertgoers. Donations are accepted. Bay Area Diamond Co., Trophies of Grace, a nonprofit, and Ron and Karen, a married couple, will provide $13,000 in matching funds. To make a donation or for benefit show tickets, visit cupojoy.com.

“Cloverton does a beautiful Christmas show,” said Oettinger. “They sing the song ‘Hallelujah’ that everyone loves so much. I thought this show would be something nice to do in (the large auditorium) because they bring production. We don’t have sound, lights or video in that room. We are hoping that some of this money that we raise from the benefit concert can be the beginning of the money we need for production.

“It’s really a Christmas concert,” she added. “Sometimes, you get a Christmas concert where a band does two (Christmas) songs and then all their own stuff. They do a Christmas concert. It will give us something to get into the mood for Christmas and remember the reason for the holiday, the reason we celebrate.”