WE ARE LISTENING
That’s not only the tagline for a new nonprofit music club in Hampton Roads. It’s a promise to artists.
Often, live music is background noise. Not at Hampton’s Victorian Station, where open mic nights on Thursdays and bluegrass/Americana nights on Fridays have packed the house with serious listeners over the past five years.
There’s just one problem with those nights: food and drink sales aren’t enough to support the music.
Big Pink Music changes that. The nonprofit was born out of the friendship between Victorian Station owners Chris Jacobson and Karen Benson and Kelly Murphy, a local music presenter.
What they’re creating is a community of music lovers – and listeners – who will pay an annual membership fee ranging from $100 to $500 to support performances by local musicians. In return, they will receive benefits including reduced ticket prices, invitations to private events, and even private use of the venue.
“The support of Big Pink members means music can be the focus,” Murphy says. “Victorian Station is the perfect home for our community. It has developed into a very special venue -- one with no TVs, karaoke, or loud bands -- where the audience truly listens to our local musicians.”
Think of it as Coastal Virginia’s answer to Greenwich Village’s Gaslight Club or Havana’s Buena Vista Social Club.
In addition to the regular no-cover weeknight events open to everyone, including non-members, Big Pink Music will present special ticketed shows of songwriters-in-the-round format of The Bluebird Café in Nashville, spotlighted on the television show, “Nashville.”
On Sunday, October 23, 2016, Big Pink Music presented its first private songwriters-in-the-round show, featuring local songwriters Karl Werne, Dustin Furlow, Mike Glass, and Jackie Merritt & Resa Gibbs (two-thirds of the M.S.G Acoustic Blues Trio). This was the first but, with a packed house, it will not be the last!
“I’d always dreamt of having a venue that felt like a real home for musicians, like they have in Austin or Nashville,” says Victorian Station owner, Chris Jacobson. “This kind of community support could make it a reality here.”
Murphy, the president of the board of directors, is a long-time supporter of local singer/songwriters in Hampton Roads. She was the first to introduce the house concert concept to the area nearly 18 years ago and in 2017 celebrated 10 years of presenting the well-regarded Sea Level Singer/Songwriter Festival in Norfolk. An experienced board of directors has been established for the new non-profit, who will lend their expertise in finance, marketing, community relations, event production, and project management.