Odd venues for Classical Musicians

The il Troubadore Klingon Lounge Band after a performance at the Melody Inn, one of Indianapolis' old punk rock clubs.
The il Troubadore Klingon Lounge Band after a performance at the Melody Inn, one of Indianapolis’ old punk rock clubs.

Having spent so many years playing odd venues since the 90s I sometimes forget that most of my earliest performances were in auditoriums, recital halls and churches.  Some of the venues are jsut variations on a theme, such as the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, while others are what non-classical musicians will regularly play like Punk Rock Night at the Melody Inn in Indianapolis.

Jon Silpayamanant performing at the Grand Ole Opry with Ray Price
Jon Silpayamanant performing at the Grand Ole Opry with Ray Price

Art Galleries, Libraries, and Museums aren’t that much different than concert halls and many of the larger ones actually do have auditoriums of their own.  Then there are the basement and home shows–I’ve done plenty as a noise artist and with bands–which can sometimes not be the most savory of spaces.  I remember one basement at the home of some hippies during a “folk series” the kids were running–having my shoes stick to the floor because of the cat urine and the black mold bathtub (they warned me not to use the bathroom) are experiences I won’t soon forget.

BIg sci-fi conventions can be a treat.  This year at Gen Con Indy there was nearly 50,000 in attendance so I have no idea how many thousands of people saw my performances at the little stage outside the dealers hall.

il Troubadore performing at Gen Con Indy 2013.  Nearly 50,000 people attended this year's event.
il Troubadore performing at Gen Con Indy 2013. Nearly 50,000 people attended this year’s event.

That’s an environment that isn’t much different than stadium concerts with audiences numbering in the thousands and so much background noise you can barely hear yourself think.

The Sam Houston Race Park Showgrounds in Houston, Texas before playing during Willie Nelson's annual picnic in July 2008.  photo by Jon Silpayamanant.
The Sam Houston Race Park Showgrounds in Houston, Texas before playing during Willie Nelson’s annual picnic in July 2008. photo by Jon Silpayamanant.

Jazz clubs, rock clubs, and dance clubs in stand alone venues or in Casinos.

Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights, Washington state.  Photo I took before our soundcheck in the Pend Orielle Pavillion.
Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights, Washington state. Photo I took before our soundcheck in the Pend Orielle Pavillion.

Belly dance shows at dance studios or other venues which are open to this rising performing arts form.

Jon Silpayamanant performing with The Ghosts Projects for bellydancer, PixieNyx, at 2720, a club in St. Louis.
Jon Silpayamanant performing with The Ghosts Projects for bellydancer, PixieNyx, at 2720, a club in St. Louis.

I remember a Goth club I played at in St. Louis, the Crack Fox, which had an BDSM playroom in the basement.

Jon Silpayamanant as "Death" playing for Tempest at the Crack Fox in St. Louis.
Jon Silpayamanant as “Death” playing for Tempest at the Crack Fox in St. Louis.

And at Restaurants, Coffee Houses, ethnic churches, and big outdoor ethnic festivals with the wide variety of world musicians with which I regularly play.

Jon Silpayamanant performing with the Balkan Band, Kermes, at St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church in Indianapolis.
Jon Silpayamanant performing with the Balkan Band, Kermes, at St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church in Indianapolis.
Jon Silpayamanant performing with Arabic Band, Ahel El Nagam, for bellydancer, Azayani  at Shiraz Mediterranean Grill in Louisville.
Jon Silpayamanant performing with Arabic Band, Ahel El Nagam, for bellydancer, Azayani at Shiraz Mediterranean Grill in Louisville.

At some point you can start to notice the similarities and differences in audiences, venues, musicians, and communities–a perspective you can’t get if you’re not in the trenches actively performing and booking these gigs.  You also start to get a sense for how you can start making a living doing this through trial and error.  As I continue to develop new projects and expand into new musical realms (yeah, there’s still much more out there than even I do) I take the experience with me and hope to create something that works and is “sustainable” (I really don’t like that word).

I’ll keep reporting what I’ve been doing but until then please peruse some of my other Music Entrepreneurship tagged posts here.

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