New downtown Niles nonprofit to provide respite for roadies

Published 12:09 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2020

NILES — When walking by 205 E. Main St. in downtown in recent months, windows with a sign bearing the words “Follow our story

@theoryoneproductions” may have caught the eye of passersby. The account belongs to the production company that Paul and Courtney Klimson jointly own. The plans for 205 E. Main St., however, reach beyond production.

The Klimsons purchased the three-story downtown building to restore and to give their professional community what Niles has given them: rest and recovery. The site downtown is set to be the home of The Clinic: A Roadie Advocacy Group. The Clinic will offer services in-house like therapy, education, advocacy, financial guidance, recovery resources, marriage counseling, family resources, suicide prevention tools, women-in-touring services and temporary housing.

The nonprofit will use the space to include accommodations for touring music industry professionals, to reground and recover from their lifestyle in a place that the Klimsons say has become “the medicine” they sought after.

“[Niles] had a realness to it, of hardworking people having a good time and trying to build something that was more than just the temporary, the flashy,” Paul said. “It was the old school, downtown mentality. That really resonated with the people that I work with because our life is temporary, that if there’s something that’s brick and mortar, and you believe you can see it, you can go to it. I felt like downtown Niles was a sort of magic.”

The Klimsons are both industry touring professionals, or professional roadies. While Courtney has taken on a management role of Paul’s career, a career built over 20 years of hard work, they find it necessary to touch base meaningfully every couple of weeks to stay grounded and together. With their work in the industry, and Courtney’s continued work on management and production, they realized their work community needed something they had found.

“We are creating a space for touring personnel, lovingly called ‘roadies,’ where they can heal, recover and get back on the road healthier than when they came to us,” Courtney said. “It’s a really rough industry to be in, and the toll it takes on our personal bodies and minds, and those of our families, kids and spouses.”

For roadies, the unsung heroes making sure everything is set up and working correctly for performers, constant travel is their industry norm. The Klimsons saw resources for performers to cope with their lifestyle and find respite, but found that there was a need to care for touring personnel as well.

The Klimsons aim to make The Clinic, set to open in the summer of 2021, a place where touring personnel can take a break and reconnect by providing food, a room and other resources like therapy while spending time in a smaller community to take time off from the always on the go nature of their work. 

“On the first floor we’re going to put what I’m calling ‘The Shop on Main,’” Courtney said. “We want to support local artists.” Courtney is hoping to fill the store with goods and artwork created by local artisans. She hopes to source everything for the shop from within a 20-mile radius of downtown Niles. “There will also be a commercial kitchen in the back that we’re calling ‘Table 13,’” Courtney said. “That will be the only nod to the industry, as you can fit 13 people on a tour bus including the driver.”

The kitchen will remain mainly in use for those staying at The Clinic, but the Klimsons hope that they can extend its use and invite the community for meals from time to time.

The second floor of The Clinic will house four individual lofts for roadies to take a short stay in. Each will each have its own bathroom, share a community laundry area and a lounge with a sober bar to create a healthy environment for all visitors.

The third floor will house the offices for the nonprofit, as well as a master suite, a studio mixing suite for Paul and for visitors to use if they need to do a little work while they are off the road. One of the biggest points of difference that the Klimsons are bringing to The Clinic are the two soundproof therapy suites on the third floor.

“We’d like to have in-house therapists, but also make it so they can do virtual therapy from those rooms in a safe environment,” Courtney said.

The Klimsons are quick to say that The Clinic will not be a rehab, but more of a retreat. The touring lifestyle can be difficult for those on the road to stay connected with their lives back home. Without having a permanent place to stay, the “fight or flight” response can take a toll on those never able to quite get comfortable as they tour, they said.

“As roadies, just like [the movie] Groundhog Day, you go to one arena, they do the same show and they pack it up that day,” Courtney said. “They go onto their bus or onto their plane, and they go to the next place and do it all over again. It’s hard to find stuff to talk about. It’s hard to stay connected.”

Courtney and Paul have seen their share of distress on tours among roadies unable to stay connected with their life at home, and know the mental and emotional toll it can take.

The Clinic has begun demolition, the first step in restoring the building.  In a full-circle moment, the Klimsons are also having roadies taking a break to help with the demolition and construction efforts of The Clinic.

“We are working with the State Historic Preservation Office to restore it to its original beauty,” Courtney said.

As roadies, Paul and Courtney have an extensive resume. Paul works with artists like John Legend, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake on a regular basis. With grueling tour schedules that sometimes sends Paul across the country and across the ocean multiple times within a month, the Klimsons both know very well what a healthy break can do.

“The last place that you want to be when you’re recovering from anything is a big city,” Courtney said. “That’s where we live; that’s where we work. The place that we need to breathe is a place like Niles.”

Being a part of the Niles community is important to Courtney and Paul, as both a way to support the community they have recently become permanent residences of, and as a way to connect The Clinic to the community.