Center for the Performing Arts President/Chief Executive Officer Jeff McDermott had two main missions in launching the Studio Series at his Carmel venue.
“The genesis of this is two-fold: To provide a more intimate Studio Series to our patrons and also give an opportunity to some local and regional artists who might otherwise be playing in a variety of restaurants and bars to have a more a sit-down patron experience where they can not only play their music but have a dialogue with the audience,” McDermott said.
McDermott said the goal is to attract a younger audience to more casual events at its black-box Studio Theater, which can be set up in various configurations from standing space to 200-person seating.
“We have cocktail tables set up inside the theater, but the focus is the music and the artists,” McDermott said. “A goal is to offer something that is at a real modest price level, too. We’re restricting the pricing so a lot of people can come to it and enjoy it.”
The series kicked off Dec. 6, 2019 with a co-headlined bill of singer/songwriter Brett Wiscons and indie folk band Sarah Grain & the Billions of Stars. The series returns with Allison Victoria and her band at 8 p.m. Feb. 29.
Victoria, a singer/songwriter, has built a strong fan base since she began playing Indianapolis open-mic events in 2016. She was a featured artist at the Arts Council of Indianapolis’ 2019 Art & Soul festival. Her music is described as a blend of soul, hip-hop, R&B, folk and gospel sounds.
Grain, an Indianapolis resident, said the Studio Theater performance was no question her favorite performance of the year.
“Sometimes, it can be nice to set up and play at a bar where your goal is to simply provide ambience for guests to enjoy the company they came with,” Grain said. “However, playing for a listening-room audience like what was provided to us through our Studio Theater performance is incredibly rare and special. Instead of playing one song after the other, I was able to engage in storytelling, share background about each song’s meaning and engage with the audience on a personal level. The attendees who had seen me previously in a variety of different venues said our Studio Theater performance was the best they’d ever seen our band.
“They said they could hear every note, every word, and it allowed them to drop into the stories we were telling and the musical landscape we laid out for them.”
Grain said more Indianapolis venues are stepping up to provide music to customers and are willing to pay and provide a good atmosphere to the musicians.
“It’s an exciting time culturally in this city,” she said. “However, the Studio Theater is completely unique in the fact that it offers artists a listening-room environment with a top-of-the-line sound system and staff to support them in performing their best. Performing at the Studio Theater was full-service. Our band had excellent advance communication with the Center for the Performing Arts’ professional staff. Our event was publicized heavily through the Center’s media outlets. We were provided a thorough soundcheck with state-of-the-art equipment and an experienced engineer and lighting team to support our performance.
“We were provided excellent hospitality and the audience was attentive and engaged the entire performance.”
Other Studio Series concerts set so far are 800 lb. Gorilla, April 4, and Veseria, May 30.
“I would absolutely love the chance to play the Studio Theater again, but in the meantime, I look forward to seeing other great Indianapolis artists there,” Grain said. “There are so many worthy local artists that deserve to be heard in the intimacy of the Studio Theater.’
If you go
Concert: Allison Victoria and band
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 29
Tickets: $20 at the door or $15 in advance through the Palladium Box Office, online at thecenterpresents.org or by phone 317-843-3800.