The building that is now known as “the Porch” has provided the West Central part of Spokane with many uses, not only as a church but as a place where musicians are welcomed. The converted space was originally intended for church gatherings. A local church, the Porch, purchased the building in 2007 with the purpose of hosting Sunday gatherings. The sanctuary and main stage area is decorated with various lamps, rugs and couches giving the room a coffee-house feel. The room displays wide ceiling-to-floor windows, providing substantial natural light. The garage-like rolling doors that are set behind the stage open up into another giant room that has skeletal walls bursting with drywall and foam padding. A large part of the building is still unfinished. Because of the various uses of the building, Pastor Dave Wilkinson and the leadership of the Porch were open to look for multiple ways to open it up to the community during the rest of the week. With a stage and sound equipment already set up for Sunday services, they decided that the space could be used as a music venue.
“One way that we are reaching out to the community is to benefit the music industry here in Spokane,” Wilkinson said. “We want to support and bless them.”
The original idea behind using the building as a music space was to create a comparable venue to the Service Station here in Spokane. Twenty-year-old singer/songwriter Pete Wells, band member of The Perennials, was put in charge of the music venue development and is now the main contact for booking shows at the Porch. The building has been used as a music venue since last spring.
Wells discovered a variety of sound equipment stored in one of the large unfinished rooms. The equipment had been collecting dust and provided Wells with the opportunity to use what was already there to help his musical ventures.
“It was basically already set up; it was a no-brainer,” Wells said. “All we had to do was organize and book the venues.”
Twenty-four-year-old Aaron Hamel, considers himself Wells’ “chief-idea-bouncer-offer.” Hamel helps Wells with whatever needs to be done; they both run sound and do everything themselves. Hamel said he hopes to see the Porch becoming a multi-functional building, accommodating different uses related to music. Wells and Hamel both agree they would like to see INDABA Coffee, West Central’s local neighborhood coffee shop, in the same building as the Porch. In order for this to happen, the Porch would need to acquire investors to complete the remodel.
“Conceptually part of the draw is getting the Porch to have that intimate feel,” Hamel said. “You don’t have to be a big loud band to play here.”
Several bands have played at the Porch, including Crickets of Cascadia, Cathedral Pearls, Horse Thieves and Dovekins. Wells explained that because the building is already paid for, they are not pressured to have shows every night like other music venues in town that need to book shows to make money. This gives Hamel and Wells the freedom to be more selective in booking bands. Hamel prefers quality over quantity.
“We book consistently quality acts,” Wells said.
The collection of upholstery and unique light fixtures play into that desired coffee house ambiance. The metal doors and slick cement floors can prove to be a challenge to bands with a full drum set or heavier metal sounds. The room appeals more to acoustic indie bands. Shane Collins, band member of Wonder Wonder, had a good experience playing at the Porch this past month.
“It’s like a big glass box; it’s got a live feel to it,” Collins said. “The sound bounces off the huge windows; there’s a cool natural reverb.”
Wilkinson said members of the Porch want to use their building well and open it to performers.
“We care about music and want to build relationships with musicians and other artists,” Wilkinson said.
If Whitworth students are interested in playing at the Porch, contact Pete Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include an appropriate press packet and a link or demo of your music.
By Brianna Anderson