Meet Devin James Dean, the owner of The Local. With the official grand opening happening later this week I interviewed Dean to get the scoop on Grand Junction's newest music venue.
1. Why did you decide to open The Local?
The Local started out as a community not an establishment. The downtown Grand Junction community is very tight but welcoming at the same time. We knew we wanted to open a concept but we didn't want the gimmicks. We wanted a place where people could relax and know it is their place. The Local is filled with familiar faces and we feel it gives visitors a great first impression of western Colorado.
2. The Local seems to focus on homegrown products (food, drinks, art, music). Explain why focusing on local products was so important to you when opening the business.
We do try to focus as much as we can on Colorado products. We can't do everything that way but we do try. We rely on volume to support all of this by keeping our prices realistic. This is the only place in town where you can get any Colorado liquor for $6.50.
Our art is local to Grand Junction and will be revolving. We do not take a commission on art sales and we also pay any credit processing fees associated as a thank you to the artists who have taken so much time creating what are, in my opinion, masterpieces.
3. The eastern half of the state is blowing up with strong music/art and foodie scenes. Are you sensing that western Colorado is starting to catch up to the rest of the state? What is the energy like in Colorado right now?
Oh yeah, the energy in Colorado is climbing like crazy. We all know we live in the best state and we are a proud group of people for a good reason.
4. The Local has been open for just a short time but already people seem to be into the place and I’ve been hearing a number of good comments. What’s been the most exciting part about opening the Local?
Music is the heart beat of the vast majority of our team, we have musicians from different bands that work with us as. Grand Junction has an overwhelming amount of musical talent and the downtown community thrives on that. We have the largest budget for a venue our size when it comes to entertainment and I plan on blowing that the first chance I'm allowed.
We host live art shows, vinyl brunch Sundays, live original music 2 nights each week minimum. Live poetry and soon to come will be live theater. We were not joking when we said this place belongs to the community. When people tell us they want events done we make it happen. That is our passion.
5. The official Grand Opening is just a couple of weeks away and you’re throwing a huge two-day party with a number of Grand Junction’s best/favorite bands. What do people need to know about the grand opening? How did you narrow down the music lineup for the grand opening?
The grand opening is Friday and Saturday and we are doing it festival style. We have Palisade Brewing company all night Friday with a tie-dye stand, and pear blossom fans are giving donations for raffle as well. We will have a paid raffle where proceeds will go to Partners and we will also have a free raffle with tons of prizes.
The band line up is insane. Luckily all of the musicians have worked with me in the past and it was very easy to make this happen. My personal motto is that if it is worth doing it is worth overdoing. I want all the bands to play in their place and be surrounded by the great talent.
It goes back to the great and wonderful Kevin Costner "if you build it they will come." Well if you throw a big as public party with the some of the best bands and keep the prices right, you have the beginning of the local music fest. This year is 2 days and next year I want 3 days.
6. The Local is open later than any other venue in Grand Junction. How’s the response been since staying open and serving food till 4 a.m.?
The late night is a big test. We take a huge risk with it but the fact is I have gotten off work at 3 am over 100 times and ended up on north Ave looking for food. Why are we sending people away when they should stay downtown and chill out and wait for a cab if need be. No need to leave. We have had people up to 4 almost every weekend and that was the goal. Breakfast or dinner it does not matter. Just relax and unwind.
Navigating the local music scene can be hard to do for the completely uninitiated.
There are dozens of bands in Grand Junction that go unheard by the masses simply because it’s hard to get face time with everyday folks.
Sure, there are a core group of fans who make it out to every show, but it’s nearly impossible for local musicians to penetrate beyond that dedicated demographic.
Generally speaking, the only opportunities for local bands to play live are at bars late into the night at 21-and-over venues. All area venues are fine spots to catch a local band, however, I understand why most people miss those shows.
Local shows start late, usually around 10 p.m., and for this area, that is a tough sell.
For many, the idea of working a long week then waiting around all evening just to stand shoulder to shoulder with an obnoxious drunk for a night of live music is not an appealing option.
This is a city of weekend warriors, who frankly would rather spend their free time bombing down a trail on a mountain bike or wading through a cold river to cast a fly to hungry fish than shuffle up and down Main Street in the dead of night to catch an unknown local band.
In Grand Junction, music is not a priority, at least, not in the wanting to catch a late night live show kind of way.
I’ve been on both sides of the coin as a fan and as a musician, and playing late night shows are not ideal for anyone.
The situation is just as annoying for a musician as it is for the audience.
For a musician, a 10 p.m. start time really means getting to the venue three hours early to set up the gear and sound check. Once that’s completed its two and a half hours of dead time usually wasted nervously sipping beer, chain smoking cigarettes, and hoping to God that someone, anyone, will show up to the gig.
Outside of hanging around bars and talking to musicians face-to-face, there’s not really a completely reliable, trusted source for local music in Grand Junction.
An opportunity exists for someone to come along and connect fans and musicians in a more convenient way. I think this is a music town, we just need to rethink how to get local musicians in front of more music fans.
I’ve been a big believer that a local music showcase is a key step toward bridging that gap. Thankfully, it looks like a true local showcase is finally happening.
The official grand opening of The Local, a new mixed-use space on Main Street, features a two-day music festival event with 15 local musicians performing on Feb. 13–14.
All the usual suspects are lined up to play including Zolopht and the Destroyers, Shea Bramer, Tight Thump and local super group Toaster, featuring vocalist Jamie Gaines, guitarist Kellen Michael, bassist Steve Williams and drummer Steve McGarry.
What’s immediately appealing about this music festival is that at least part of the event is for all ages and takes place before 10 p.m.
With two major barriers preventing people from catching a local show removed, this is a real chance for local bands to play for new crowds.
It doesn’t take much to convert someone into a local music fan, the hardest part is providing the opportunity for that conversion to take place. The Local has taken care of that.
It’s now up to the bands to do their part.
Ideally, someone will see a band such as Toaster play, they will fall in love and be motivated to check out Toaster’s next show. And maybe at that next show these new fans will have a great time and decide to try a similar event out, like the weekly Funk Jam. Maybe they put a sticker on their car bumper or, better yet, buy a local band’s album.
The point is, once someone finds an in to the local scene, they become vested in what is happening in their community and more likely to actively participate.
It makes sense that The Local provides this access point for musicians and fans. As the name implies, local products just happen to be its specialty. Now that the space is provided, we’ll see if the community takes advantage of it.
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Playing tonight at Sabrosa is Rubedo, a transgresive rock trio from Denver. Local acts Shotgun Hodown and new duo Richard & Lloyd open. According to the band, Rubedo is the audible manifestation of life streaming through psyche of its members. This is alchemy by means of transgressive synth rock. The band has appeared on Colorado Public Radio's Open Air and makes its Grand Junction debut tonight.
Also tonight at Barons, help Talya, front woman for We Speak Imaginese, celebrate her birthday with a bash to remember! Special guest Eric Stucky from Montrose opens the show at 10 p.m.
Denver based bands Rossonian and The Raven and the Writing Desk swing through Grand Junction tomorrow night (Jan. 31) to play at Barons. For Rossonian, this marks the second time they've played Grand Junction. They previously played a KAFM Radio Room concert last summer with Flashbulb Fires and Dreamboat.
This is an all ages show, $3 at the door.
Local DJs Selector Trev, Dusty Thunders, and Strangefellow play the Winter White Party at Charlie Dwellingtons tomorrow (Jan. 31). Music starts at 10 p.m. and there is a $5 cover charge.