“I’ve been listening to live music for 30 years, and this is one of the most relaxed venues I’ve ever been to. And everyone actually seems to be listening to the music, instead of talking over it.”
This was one of the first things I heard when I walked through the doors of The Acoustic Room this past Saturday, and it sums up my experience very well. I walked in at 9:00 as the warm-up act, Drew Gruntle, was playing Sixth Avenue Heartache by The Wallflowers. Around 9:30, the music quieted down as the Indiana Ramblers prepared to take the stage, but you hardly noticed it as conversation filled the void.
The Acoustic Room may be a music venue, but it’s also a place for community. The walls are covered in artwork from local artists, and the letters from Doc’s Music Hall hang over the tables. But it’s not just the décor that gives The Acoustic Room life; it’s the people inside it. I watch as people jump from conversation to conversation, with PBR’s and Rolling Rock tallboys in hand. As I’m watching, I’m joined by a group of people who were visiting The Acoustic Room for the first time. After a few minutes of conversation, I know how they all met, and they’re asking me when my girlfriend and I are getting married and how many kids we’re having (not soon and none, just in case you’re wondering). In almost any other context, this would have been annoying, but something about the vibe of the room makes conversation seem more relaxed and sincere.
Before long, Indiana Ramblers come on stage. I’m not a bluegrass aficionado, but I can appreciate good live bluegrass, and it was delivered. While I’m drinking my White River Stout (beer brewed in Muncie at New Corner Brewery), I listen to original music and covers of other artists. Of course, what is a bluegrass show post-2013 without a cover of Wagon Wheel? Naturally, this becomes a sing-along for the whole crowd. After a few more songs, I call it a night. As I walk home, I hear the music fade away behind me, but Wagon Wheel is still rolling around in my head.