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Barkingham Palace turns to the community for a helping hand

Yung Trunkz performs at Barkingham Palace on Feb. 16.

Alexxus Browning

Keeping the lights on at a DIY venue is no easy task, even in the best circumstances. But after this summer’s historic flooding damaged the basement at Barkingham Palace, operator Yjessika Rondi—whose employer recently shuttered its doors—learned just how tough it can be. 

She checks off the list of equipment needs: mics, cables, and a power pusher to start. “I’m not in a spot where I can get these things right now,” she said. “But I don’t want to stop having these shows for the time being because Barkingham is a really important space for a lot of younger kids.”

Barkingham has hosted free, all-ages shows—featuring everything from folk to punk to hip-hop—since 2012. But the venue can only function for so long without bringing in revenue, especially after the setbacks of recent months, so Rondi and company are enlisting the help of the community through a benefit show on Aug. 17.

Britton Morgan knows firsthand how much Barkingham means to the community, and vice versa. He previously lived in the house venue and ran sound at shows. His band Shoog Night is playing the benefit alongside Tell Lies, Acid Queen and more to be announced.

“Yjessika pretty much pays for everything out of pocket ... for everything that goes into keeping up the venue like sound and repairs and stuff like that,” he said. “It’s pretty difficult to pay for all of that. Every once in a while you need the community to help out a bit.”

That community spirit is whole reason Rondi moved to Tulsa in the first place. She wanted to recreate the same sense of community she felt in her hometown of Battle Creek, Michigan. 

“We had a couple all ages venues in my town,” she remembers. “I’m realizing how important it was for me as a kid and teenager to be going and seeing a bunch of live bands and being allowed to be myself. I learned a lot about who I was and what I care about by going to these shows. I met a lot of great people that definitely had a big influence on me growing up. It just really opened my eyes at a young age to see how important community was.”

Rondi has fostered those same experiences in Tulsa, striving to bring people together around live music night after night. She hopes the same community served by Barkingham Palace will turn out on Aug. 17 with donations in hand, so the venue can continue to build community for those who may otherwise feel isolated 
and alone. 

“We’ve all been in a spot where we feel like we don’t have a lot of friends, or like things just aren’t going well. This space provides a safe haven,” she said. “Come out, be yourself, and meet new friends.” 

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Barkingham Benefit Show 
Barkingham Palace, 412 S. Phoenix Ave. 
9 p.m., donations encouraged