As I sat comfortably and listened to all of the incredible performances this past weekend at Steamworks Creative, it made me think back to the very first night we opened the doors for live music (Jan. 2018). At that time I wasn’t even sure we would last a full month let alone 3 years.

Well, before I talk about the birth of our “all volunteer” community listening room, I want to thank the incredibly generous, hard working and talented folks who made it all possible; Kim Coles, Gene Titus, Dennis Frankovic, Skipp Barr, Martin Munoz, Linda Kearney Leddon, plus my dear friend Mary Lou Scherder who was with me from Day 1 with her weekly open mic sessions. I don’t say thank you enough to these wonderful people. They run the entire venue and keep everything in tip top shape, on a 100% volunteer basis !

So back to the beginning. It was a very cold and icy mid January night ( 1/15/18 to be exact) in Pittsburgh. Together with my pals Mike Hammer, and Ronny Moondg Esser, we went to see John Oates at a certain club in the city. We parked about a 1/2 mile away from the venue only to be warned that we might get towed (ugghh), so I walked all the back to move my car to a different spot, even further away. Once we arrived inside we realized there was no seating, the vast majority of the audience had to stand for the entire evening. Now back in 1985 that would not be an issue but the average age of this audience was around 60. To make things even worse we couldn’t get near the bar to buy some extremely over priced adult drinks, can you say sardine can ? We stood next to a couple of very nice but shorter women who drove all the way from Columbus to see the show. They had one huge problem, they really couldn’t see the show. Everybody else was a bit taller and no matter how hard we tried we couldn’t create a visual lane so they could see the stage. So these ladies paid top dollar for tickets, travel, hotel , meals and this is what they dealt with. Honestly it pissed me off, plus my feet and back were killing me ! Yes, I’m old and proud of it. On the drive home after the show that night I mentioned to Mike and Moondog that I was stuck with any empty storefront space in Gibsonia. I had invested in, and personally guaranteed a 5 year rental lease ( bad move ) for a vaping company (Steamworks Vapors) that closed down a year earlier. I told the guys that I was going to get some folding tables and chairs and put out a post inviting folks to come out to my empty space for some live acoustic music. There would be no cover (donations only), BYOB and BYOF. Everyone would have a seat, the bathrooms would be clean and sanitized, but more importantly there would be no talking permitted while the musicians were performing. Our opening night was January 26th, 2018. We were blessed to have two great musicians, Doug Edgell and my bud Jim McCullough, plus I think I sang a few tunes. I was shocked how many people showed up. Somehow the news of our brand new little venue (listening room) and our commitment to “respect the artist and respect the audience” spread quickly. Before I knew it we were booking acts 3 – 5 nights a week. We continued, for the most part, to ask for donations at the door that we shared those with the artist. But along the way many of the musicians realized that they didn’t really play for the money, they performed for people to listen to their music. And over three years later, the song remains the same. Come to Steamworks Creative, sit back, relax and listen to the music. And oh ya, bring your favorite adult beverage and a few friends along for the ride. Besides the wonderful volunteers that I mentioned earlier I have to thank every one of the talented artists that have graced our stage. We have been truly blessed by your performances.

John Vento