Nation & World

Red Room gets its acts together

It’s been a see-saw battle for Kennewick’s Red Room in its quest to become the premier venue for indie music in the Tri-Cities. I’ve written about them several times in no uncertain terms as being a little lax in reaching their goal.

But things have changed. Over the last 11⁄2 years, they came out like gangbusters in recruiting acts like Man Man and Erin McKeown to play here, and while that was great, they sputtered with only a handful of acts since. Now with their remodel complete and space for the main stage able to handle 300 to 350 people, they have a place that can lure high-quality acts.

And now that booking manager Caleb Ingersoll is here full time, the venue is able to devote the time needed to get the job done. You see, over that long stretch where acts were scant, Ingersoll was in Los Angeles finishing school at Citrus College earning his degree in recording arts. Management by correspondence didn’t work, but with his return, things are shaping up. Exhibit 1 as evidence is the venue’s calendar. On Sept. 4, they brought in up-and-coming songwriter Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson. Also on tap are indie powerhouses Earlimart, My Brightest Diamond, Bowerbirds, The Acorn and more. This is a schedule any city would be proud to see, let alone the out-of-the-way Tri-Cities.

It's been Ingersoll's dream to solidify the Tri-Cities as a stop on indie-circuit tours. And while he spends much of his time trying to get the stars to align with tours criss-crossing the country, he has the card in hand that no other venue here can compete with -- his capacity.

"We have a good standing point with artists' booking managers in that we can seat 300 to 350 people," Ingersoll said. "We also can afford to pay their expenses in setup and travel to make it worth their while."

In the subtext of all this is another goal: to plant the seed of indie music in our scene.

"One goal is to breed musical influence here and have kids start their own bands," Ingersoll said. "I'm not against hardcore metal music, but I know there are kids here that like indie music. I hope that once they start seeing bands that are willing to be creative and are making music just because they like to make music, that will catch on."

He also knows this will take time.

Now with acts coming in, he hopes to make the venue self-supported. In the past, they've tapped funds from the church arm of the project "The Living Room" to keep things afloat.

But that's where the partnership ends.

"Basically we're just in the same building," Ingersoll said. "We're not trying to preach to anyone."

The focus now is just on making it happen. Ingersoll is working on updating the website to make it more interactive where fans can look at videos and check out links to the bands' MySpace pages to get a feel for their sound. This is set debut soon. Later on, he hopes to add a street team to get the word out and plaster local schools and colleges with fliers for upcoming bands.

And if things pick up, Ingersoll says he's also working on Halloween and New Year's shows and bringing in acts like M. Ward and the Fleet Foxes to play. And that’s something I think just about any music fan can get behind.

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