Favorite New Venue Becomes Favorite Old Venue

Here's the unedited text of this week's farewell to the Soundpost:

The Soundpost, the 108 High St. venue that’s brought a wide array of homegrown and visiting folk and alternative acts to Portland most Sundays in 2007, hosts its final show on September 23rd (see details in 8 Days a Week). Matt Rock and Kate Cox began opening their studio space (fondly remembered by many in its previous incarnation as the old Stillhouse Studio Theatre) to public performances at the end of last year. Their scantly advertised gigs quickly amassed a loyal and sizable following, thanks to the venue’s remarkably consistent acts and inimitably cozy atmosphere.

            Like too many good things in Portland these days, The Soundpost’s end comes thanks to a for sale sign (luxury condos, presumably, coming soon!). Kate and Matt depart for at least a half-year in Germany in the coming weeks, and while their space’s closure leaves a formidable gap in gigging possibilities for many of our best musicians (it’s a ripe time to call on Local 188, One Longfellow Square, and a few other spots to pick up the slack), we’d rather use this space to remember the good times...until Soundpost withdrawl starts next week, and every Sunday in “8 Days” to follow becomes a gaping hole.

            I asked Kate, Matt, and some of The Soundpost’s BFFs to write me with their thoughts on the venue’s end. In pure writing-to-your-best-friend-in-their-high-school-yearbook style, they took up a lot of space. Here are some snippets of their thoughts, which will be posted in their entirety on the Phoenix’s “About Town” blog ( Fare thee well, Soundpost: you were the best church I ever had.

From Jon Courtney, SPACE Gallery co-founder:
As the only person (as far as I'm aware) to publicly ask for someone's hand in marriage onstage at The Soundpost, I feel like I have a slightly different connection to the Soundpost than most people.  

When (former tenants) Tim (Harbeson) and Buffy (Miller) announced they'd be moving to Philadelphia, it was not only Portland's loss of two fine artists and individuals but such a wonderful performance space as The Stillhouse.  Thankfully, Kate and Matt stepped up to pick up the threads and, while keeping in the same spirit as The Stillhouse, to fashion them into something decidedly reflective of their own personalities and senses of wonder.  As a programmer, there are incredibly valid and worthwhile events that, for one reason or another, will only draw a small audience in a town the size of Portland.  Those events, with an audience of less than 50, can make a venue like SPACE or Geno's or One Longfellow, fine places as they all are, feel cavernous and the energy just dissipates.  It's so important to the performance (and betrothal) community of Portland to have these micro-venues like the Soundpost (and Strange Maine and Blue and Field and Jay York's and Sunday nights at the old Local 188) as a place for these intimate gatherings to occur.  Just as the New York City loft scene of the mid-70's played such a critical gestation role for so many avant-garde jazz musicians, venues like The Soundpost allow the adventurous and exploratory to occur here on Maine soil.

Best wishes to Matt and Kate.  The love, care and toil they put into each event at The Soundpost was evident and not lost on their audiences.

From Matt Rock, Soundpost proprietor:
Often the richest moments for me are after after the shows are done, when whatever cocktail of energy is still floating around the room. Last February Greg Davis and Wind up Bird finished their set where they set up three gongs across the length of the space, turned off all the lights and did a 20 minute arc from silence to skull-shattering. At the peak of it I thought my head was going to explode, the sound was so violent and suffocating. I think everyone at that show lost a couple of days from their life because of it. Right after they ended, John Courtney came in all cheery and curious what was happening that night, and it was so stark that he didn't just have his mind screw-drivered like the rest of us. It was really clear that night that our space offered a place for real transformation through music, which is something we've tried to maintain throughout all of our shows, and in a different way each time. Hosting shows on a second floor space on Sundays guarantees that the people who are there really want to be. I think that shared desire really lets things open up for both the performers and the audience and allows for energy to gain momentum.

The Soundpost has had a lot of facets for Kate and I especially because it has been a creative space for us during the week, and a venue on Sunday evenings. From the very beginning we treated the Soundpost like a petri dish, we had friends who played music, friends that liked to listen to music, and a space to bring the two together. We just tried to create an open atmosphere and let things germinate. Our recipe for booking shows has been really simple, to bring in musicians that we love. If there are only five people in the audience and the performers really connect with them, every musician I know would take that over free beer and half the door at a noisy bar. We try curate a space where the evening is ultimately about the connecting with music. That makes the musicians play better, and the audience happier, and the energy in the room builds from there.
Even though this chapter of the Soundpost is coming to a close, the name and the concept have a long future, in whatever incarnation that may be. We going to be in Berlin at least through the spring, and hope to continue to present and record shows while we are there.  We both love doing this and have acknowledge a strong need in Portland for venue for original music where people actually listen. I'm really happy we were able to provide that to the extent that we could, and hope that artists and musicians in Portland continue to see how vitally important it is to take administrating into their own hands.

But-- no tears yet we are going to have a final show on September 23rd, Me and Dylan, Ben Russell, Gray Cox (Kates dad), Tim Burns (who may be doing something with Kelly, and we're hoping Orifist will make an appearance.

From Kelly Nesbitt, frequent customer/performer:
Ah woe is me! O grief, o grief, for my heart shall beat like raw piece of meat roaming these empty Sunday streets.  A fond farewell to the most amazing, life saving, & life giving Soundpost.   I was there for The
Stillhouse beginning till end, and I couldn't have possibly asked for anything more when Kate and Matt leaped at the chance to take over the space with their Soundpost vision.  So as this chapter ends now, I am reminded of their incredible generosity, openness, complete intrigue, and excitement, as well the creative comfort I felt there, friends made, and of how precious these times are.  Thanks be to the Post!

From Chriss Sutherland, frequent customer/performer:
For me it's sadly interesting to witness the second closing of my favorite performance space in Portland.
I survived the 13 straight Stillhouse Runs of 2003 and it was so nice to hear that Kate and Matt were going to continue the tradition. But like anything cool it came to a quickish end. Weirdly (or not) Cerberus Shoal just finished mixing a record that came from a show we did at The Stillhouse (Soundpost) in May of 2003. That space was/is incredible in that it forced us (CS) to create an all acoustic show but at the same time allowed to stretch out the theatre in us (curtain and all). I don't know I have a veritable shitload of great memories asociated with that space and I think it will be a tall order for anyone to fill the shoes first worn by Tim and Buffy and then Kate and Matt.

Anyway... blah, blah, blah

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