By Jacob Stockinger
The Ear has received the following message from Bill Rogers, the owner of The Malt House tavern on Madison’s near east side. It fits in with the national and international trend of performing classical music in non-traditional venues such as bars, cafes and coffee houses, much like what the Classical Revolution movement does here and Le Poisson Rouge does in New York City do. So The Ear thinks what Rogers says will interest both performers and listeners.
Thanks for calling and asking about classical music at The Malt House (below). I love the name of your blog!
I put up a flier in Metcalfe’s seeking musicians who’d like a place to perform. I’ve got three bookings from that flier, and I will try other locations soon.
Upcoming performances include:
Jeff Larsen (below) — Classical Guitar – TODAY, Saturday Jan. 23, 3-5 p.m.
Yahara String Quartet (below) — (classical and love songs, “pops-style”) – Saturday, Feb. 13, 3-5 p.m.
Jeff Larsen and Inna Larsen — Classical Guitar and Violin — Saturday March 12, 3-5 p.m.
Karl von Huene (below)– Solo Cello – Saturday, March 26, 3-5 p.m.
Unfortunately, there is no piano to use. And patrons seem to prefer instrumental music to vocal music.
The musicians play 2 hours, including a beer break. Alas, these are not paid gigs. They play for tips and beer. People DO tip.
I don’t play, but I’ve been a fan of classical music since high school (40 years ago). I subscribed a few years ago to the Madison Symphony Orchestra at the Overture Center, but I found the atmosphere stifling although the music was amazing. Nobody bobbed their heads, tapped their toes or fingers, nobody “air conducted.” Meh. There was no life in the room!
I’m also not likely to seek out concerts in churches either, because I like a drink while I listen.
I wanted a more vibrant and intimate experience and, as a bar owner, I happen to have a small performance space.
So … I’m looking for chamber music-style experiences for our customers, and lively feedback for performers.
Chamber music is party music. That’s what it was written for, yes? It belongs in parties, bars, etc.
I think there’s an unmet need for intimate, relaxed, classical performances. I want my bar to be the place people come for weekend classics. A lot of University of Wisconsin faculty, staff, technicians and others who live near us come here, and they seem to respond well to these shows.
The Yahara String Quartet has played at The Malt House several times before. Attendance was decent, we sold a fair number of drinks, and everyone had a great afternoon. They’ve received a few wedding bookings because people heard them here.
I’m seeking other musicians because they’re often busy with other performances, and normal family life. I can’t book them as often as I’d like. Incidentally, I found them because one of the violinists also plays fiddle for the Oak Street Ramblers, a bluegrass band playing here monthly.
About the bar: We’ve been in business almost 8 years. Isthmus Readers voted us best craft beer bar five consecutive years, Madison Magazine named us 2nd best beer bar twice, and we’ve been named one of the 10 hottest places in America to drink whiskey by Zagat. Besides a great beer and whiskey selection, we have a full bar setup, so wine, cocktails, cider and other beverages are all available.
We’re at the corner of East Washington Avenue and Milwaukee Street. Red Letter News is kitty-corner from us, and that’s the landmark people recognize when asking “where are you on East Wash?”
Bill Rogers, Owner,
The Malt House
2609 East Washington Avenue
Madison, WI 53704