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The area's newest music venue... in Mosinee?
Lamplight Sessions kicked off with Daniel Donato and Cosmic Country — and it's a sign of good things to come
On a day when crowds of Wausonians were flocking to the 400 Block to watch Brad Emanuel, I found myself in a different music venue. It’s in a place many might not associate with live entertainment: Mosinee.
Called Lamplight Sessions (its owner first called it Pine Traveler until he learned there was a band with that name in the southern part of the state), it’s central Wisconsin’s newest music venue.
The venue is born out of the complete transformation of an old historic building, one that once served as a pharmacy on Main Street in Mosinee. Its owner, Logan Erickson, runs a design firm currently working on the Community Partners Campus. He also booked music for the LogJam, bringing some pretty impressive acts to the festival that celebrates historical Wisconsin.
Lamplight Sessions first use was as Erickson’s own wedding, which featured TAE and the Neighborly as technically the first act to ever play there. The space looked nice then; but walking in Wednesday I could already see how the space had transformed further.
The backdrop could only be described as cozy; the backdrop for the band is a red brick wall lined with tall bookcases rife with various tomes. A slick round bar frames the opposite wall. There’s plenty of space for dancing and cozy, eclectic seating for those who’d rather sit. Sleek industrial meets cozy lived in as an aesthetic, creating a comfy/cool space.
The venue can hold about 75 total, making for a small space for performers used to playing somewhat larger venues. Erickson is targeting bands and musicians in the early stages of national touring, allowing them to pick up a paying show between gigs elsewhere in the Midwest.
That was the case for the venue’s opening act, a barnstorming psychedelic country act called Daniel Donato. Donato and his Cosmic Country blew the roof off the space. This video gives a good idea of their sound — watch when they really starting building the jam roughly five minutes in:
The four-piece Nashville-based group rolled up in a sleek white mini-bus with an equipment trailer in tow, a nice little setup for a touring act. With a keyboard, green tele, drums and a combo of upright and electric bass, the band put out the kind of energy that’s hard to explain unless you’re there to experience it. It’s easy to see why Daniel Donato is climbing the ranks. I planned a short stop and stayed most of the show, a rarity for this old dog.
The band made a stop on their way to Eau Claire for the Blue Ox festival. Though it’s not ready yet, Lamplight Sessions ultimately will have a second story loft where musicians can stay. And Mosinee’s newest hotel, of the Cobblestone franchise, is under construction.
Lamplight is already booked out through September, and the shows are fairly frequent. How has Erickson attracted these high level acts to central Wisconsin? It’s how you treat them, Erickson told The Wausonian. He takes special care to make sure the band’s needs are met, that they’re paid on time and that they have a great experience.
That makes a difference. Why? Because bands talk. A great example I like to point to is the difference between The Fillmore and Malarkey’s. Both opened around the same time, but The Fillmore looked like it was going to be THE music venue, with a high-end bar and an even more impressive stage.
Instead, today Malarkey’s is one of the great music venues in town, the Fillmore a distant memory. Why? Band leaders have told me Malarkey’s owner Tyler Vogt is a band’s dream venue owner. He treats them fairly, helps them out, and makes sure they have a good show. The Fillmore, on the other hand, was quite the opposite sources told me at the time.
Erickson knows the importance of not only cultivating relationships with these bands, but maintaining those relationships. He pays special attention to “riders” (extra requests from band members such as after show drinks or dinner or what have you) and makes sure the band leaves happy. They’ll tell their friends. He’s taken that approach with the smaller Isherwood Hall shows he’s run (bringing some crazy high caliber bands out to the middle of rural Portage County) and with LogJam; now he’ll do the same for Lamplight Sessions.
Judging from Wednesday’s performance, so far so good. With venues such as The Vox and the Q&Z going dark (neither have performances on the books anyway) a new venue is a welcome addition. And with Mosinee Brewing Company and more projects in the works, Wausonians will have even more reason to visit the small city to our south.
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