According to McKay’s Taphouse booker Jeremiah Austin, the grand opening of the bar was quietly received. In order to pull a larger crowd, Austin planned a concert and advertised through posters around town. On the night of the show, there was a line around the building.
His role as the music coordinator for McKay’s came as a result of being part of the Love Lights, a former Bellingham band. “When I started booking bands, I really tried to get bands and musicians that I personally enjoyed working with because they were likely to draw an audience,” he explained. “The only problem was that I didn’t know anything about the equipment I’d need to put on a live show.”
Austin quickly found a solution through convenience. “I bought a mixer from one of the Keaton Collective guys,” he remembered. “I was walking by and he was having a yard sale and offered me a mixer for like 10 bucks. But we’ve definitely upgraded since then.”
Austin has even started recording the shows at McKay’s and has plans to create a website in order to share the music. “Basically I record each track of the performance on ProTools and I mix them together at home.”
Austin said that, although the task can be somewhat time-consuming, the outcome is exciting.
In terms of finding music, Austin said he’s reasonably open to booking bands of any genre. “Richard Pryor used to say that he was willing to use whatever means necessary as long as it was funny,” Austin said. “I kind of take the same approach to booking here.”
Any curious musicians should be prepared to showcase their talents on the spot. “I typically ask them to play a song or two on our piano,” Austin said. “We’ve had several bands come in and do really well. It ensures that their live show is going to be really fun to watch.”
Austin said he’s also interested in giving some band-members a chance to try some solo material. “You see the frontman without the rest of the band and they seem more nervous or uncomfortable,” he explained. “Sometimes, though, they totally kill it.”
His interest in solo acts coming from established bands came from the small size of the venue. “I’d love to book certain bands but some are too loud or too big for our space,” he added.
In the next few months, McKay’s is planning to launch a website, which will allow Austin to post the recordings of previous shows. “I made a compilation of some of the recordings for a benefit,” he said, “I called it, McKay’s All-Stars and we’re toying with the idea of doing more for different benefits.”
Austin wants to look into benefits for the Bellingham community for future compilations. “What it really boils down to is that Dave worked really hard to build this bar and provide as many beers on-tap as possible,” Austin said, “I just want to make sure that the music is great and that everyone feels welcome.”
McKay’s is located at 1118 E Maple. Visit pizzapipeline.com or e-mail Jeremiah Austin at email@example.com