New venue is for serious music lovers

Changes in how humans get music is changing how we see music, too.

Advances in technology have made it so five musicians in five states can send files to make a record, fans can receive songs via email and digital downloads even accompany your newly purchased vinyl. It’s only natural that such sophistication in production should inspire an equally sophisticated listening space.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with rock music being played to a noisy audience on a beer-soaked floor or rowdy country providing the soundtrack to an angry fist hitting your face, a listening room void of drunken idiots is a great way to see music.

The Northpoint Mall (1315 Main Ave.) is the home of the iAM Music Institute and Independent Artist Management, the organizations started by Jesse Ogle and Ashley Edwards of Hello Dollface that serve as a music school, venue and offices of a booking organization for a handful of bands that tour around the Southwest.

Independent Artist Management is the booking portion of the organization; the iAM Music Institute is a music school teaching guitar, bass, vocals and keyboards, along with hosting workshops and concerts. The space also will feature local artists’ work and the occasional poetry slam.

It’s a venue that is artist- and listener-driven. Shows here will start on time just as happy hour ends and will stop long before midnight. Listening is the key factor while walls are broken down between artist and fan; shutting your yap is the rule while instruments are being played, but questions and answers are part of the game in between songs.

The venue kicked things off Tuesday with a show by Marvin and the Cloud Wall.

“What this space is ... there will be anything that’s involved with music and art,” Ogle said. “For every featured artist it will be a storyteller kind of show. It’s not going to be just like a bar where you go in and a band is playing. It’s centered on the music, not centered on the bar.”

The whole organization got underway when Ogle realized he had become the “go-to” guy for friends and fellow musicians who wanted to book shows in the Southwest. He was solicited for advice about venues and booking shows not only in Durango, but in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Flagstaff and beyond. The booking-agency arm got thrown into the business with a music school and small venue, although it remains as grass roots as most local nonprofits.

“We started a co-op of all of our friends, and we could share shows when they tour the Southwest,” Ogle said. “Primarily when they tour the Southwest, I’ll book them tours. Then we started the music school, and we’re combining those things. So all the artists that we’re working with will come in and host a workshop, they’ll do a show or maybe they’ll teach lessons.”

The iAM Music Institute’s next performances and associated events will be held in late August and September. Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.

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