ROCHESTER — As a musician, Pat Egan has a good sense of timing. As an event organizer, that remains to be seen.
In 2020, Egan launched a series of live music and discussion events at the Gray Duck Theater called “Songwriters in the Round”.
The series of events has attracted over three dozen people and seems to be picking up steam from there.
As with all things with a promising start to 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the series to a halt.
“We didn’t have the best timing,” Egan said.
After hosting half a dozen shows at the theater, Egan found a new home for the series at the Treedome, 309 S. Broadway Ave. The series also receives funding through the Rochester Downtown Alliance and Thesis Beer Project. Now he needs momentum again.
Having a unique musical experience will in itself be a draw for some people, Egan said.
“Those are the types of shows I like to go to,” he said.
Treedome co-owner Nathaniel Nelson said he offered to provide space in his record and vintage store for the series to give songwriters an outlet to hone their craft together.
“I think those are really crucial for young songwriters to understand what it takes to be a songwriter and what goes into a song,” Nelson said. “There is a positive effect in not only playing a song, but also talking about songs.”
Nelson noted that Steam and Forager Brewery regularly host open mics that provide a similar experience, but added that there are few other options for songwriters to share their art in a conversational setting.
“There are no listening rooms in town,” Nelson said. “Even ours is a bit of a stretch as it’s a store, it’s still a record store, but it’s much easier to reformat that than to move a bar into a quiet space.”
“Songwriters love this type of venue,” Egan said. “You have an audience that listens, they don’t talk about you, they don’t drink.”
Having grant funds and sponsorship to pay area musicians with a large fan base should also help, Egan added.
“Before, I felt guilty asking musicians from the (Twin) Cities to come,” he said of the previous six shows. Musicians were compensated, he said, but funding, which was mostly tied to attendance, had been sporadic.
Thanks to Nelson’s funding and contacts after years of booking shows, the remaining songwriter series for 2022 features well-known regional artists and musicians from as far away as Pennsylvania.
“A lot of these people are my friends or I’ve worked with them before, but they’re not necessarily easy,” Nelson said.
The next event will be November 20 with Soren Staff of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Them Coulee Boys; Annie Enneking of Annie and the Bang Bang from Minneapolis and Brooke Surgener from Erie, Pennsylvania.
The December 4 show will feature Minneapolis musician Chris Koza and Milwaukee musicians Ellie Jackson and Caley Conway.
From the second week of November, the remaining showcases for 2022 are the only ones scheduled. However, Egan said he would likely continue the series. Nelson said he would be on board if it happens in 2023.
“I think it’s a no-brainer to continue,” Nelson said, adding that crowds seated at Treedome may already be at capacity.
“Space is the real issue,” Nelson said.
“That’s TBD,” Egan said.
What: Songwriters in the Round
When: 6 p.m., 20 Nov; 6:04 December
Where: Treedome, 309 S. Broadway Ave.
How much: $10 at the door.