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It will no longer “Get Weird” at Opus.
The Salem restaurant, cocktail bar, and live music venue dismissed booking agent Harley Sutherland on Sunday night (May 7), creating a swirl of public backlash and threats of boycott from those in the North Shore music scene.
Sutherland, who was profiled in our April article about Opus and fellow Washington Street restaurant Koto and credited for reviving Salem’s live music circuit at both venues, was responsible for booking Mondays and one Friday each month at Opus under his well-receieved “It’s Gonna Get Weird” series. Those nights, as well as his shows at Koto, specialize in “punk, rockabilly, hardcore, and everything in between.”
The 32-year-old Sutherland revealed the news of his termination by writing, in part: “After almost 4 years of hardwork i just got fired from opus. I held various jobs there, foodrunning, expo, busser, barback, sushi chef, bouncer, and booking agent. Brought in countless bands, local, national and international touring acts. Worked my ass off to make a name for that place and now without any notice got let go because they want to go in a new direction.”
Sutherland says he was also fired from his busing job at the venue, and most of the upcoming shows he had scheduled on the calendar have been cancelled, with some possibly relocated to Koto, where he also books.
When reached Monday afternoon, Opus declined to comment directly on Sutherland, but the entertainment manager at the venue did provide the following statement to Vanyaland: “We in no way plan to end the punk/rock scene at Opus, that was never the issue, contrary to what those on Facebook are saying. We are ending music on Monday nights for a slew of reasons, but still plan on booking all genres Thursday to Saturday.”
After news of Sutherland’s dismissal began circulating online, Opus was forced to make private its Facebook rating due to the influx of 1-star reviews, and an employee from the venue began messaging bands privately asking them to ease up on the boycott calls until more information comes to light (Update: One message that was published to Facebook has since been deleted).
In recent weeks, Opus was also the target of a Facebook group called Keep Salem Clean, which took issue with the venue’s show flyers remaining on street poles and other public areas around the city. Sutherland suggested on Facebook the flyers were responsible for his removal.
Opus is part of the Serenitee Restaurant Group, which also includes Latitude 43 in Gloucester, Maggie’s Farm in Middleton, and 15 Walnut in South Hamilton, among others.
This article has been updated. Featured photo of Tigerman WOAH performing live at Opus.