By Brian Tucker
Singer/musician Evan Baker is no stranger to the local music scene, either as a member of Deep Ecology or putting together open mic sets around town. He took over booking duties recently for downtown venue The Calico Room and for the last five months was running the singer-songwriter series and open mic nights on Tuesdays.
The Calico Room underwent changes over the summer and Baker’s been working on a stronger focus on local music, highlighting the community and the region. Baker and the owners want to create an open and inviting environment at The Calico Room, catering to everyone’s taste buds. The venue is also one of the many venues downtown playing host to this weekend’s Sonorous Music Festival.
“In November you’ll be seeing a lot of that,” Baker said. “Emma Lee Nelson will be releasing her first record as a full band on Nov. 29th with Deep Ecology performing that night too. Temple 5 is going to be bringing their unique blend of hip hop and jazz on Nov. 22nd. A little punk and rock and roll, some jazz, maybe a little hip hop. I think we are looking for originality above all else. To find acts as original and eclectic as the bar itself.”
What are the exciting aspects of an open-mic night there?
Baker: As a musician, I think open mic nights will always have a special place in my heart. It’s where I got my start, as well as many other musicians around town. It’s great to watch people who’ve never been on stage before go up there and succeed. There’s also a great group of musicians who play professionally but still make it out to open mic night because it’s just that special to everyone.
Are there theme nights or original music only as a rule?
Baker: There are no theme nights – yet. We do try to encourage original music but if you want to go up there and sing a bunch of cover songs, I’m not going to stop you. Each week our open mic night features a guest artist who performs a forty minute set. The artist varies drastically each week. We’ve had folk musicians, rock musicians, techno musicians – it’s an unbelievably well put together open mic we offer here.
How is your experience as a musician informing what you’re doing?
Baker: My experience as a musician helps in everything I do there. Being a musician I know what I want from a venue and I try to give that to all the musicians that come here.
How many shows is Calico a part of for the upcoming Sonorous festival?
Baker: The Calico Room will be hosting seven performers for the festival. Friday we’ll have the band Cayenne, some live R&B from Mr. Chenier the (R&B, hip hop) band Wordsmith. Saturday we’ll have Dreamkiller, A Brilliant Lie, Jocelien, and Spaceship Days.
You’re juggling a day job, a band, and work at the venue.
Baker: Thankfully, this has become my day job. There is a fun aspect to what I do but it’s certainly not my motivation. My motivation as an artist and as a booking agent is to create something exciting, refreshing, and something everyone can enjoy.