The Frequency Calendar – August 2014



08/20 WOOD CHICKENS w/ Sally Grundy, Plowtown, Villainy of Thieves 8 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

08/21 LIFEAFTERSIX w/ Wall of Funk, Dead End Moves 9 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

08/22 COWBOY WINTER w/ The Noise FM, Middle Twin, The Flavor That Kills 10 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

08/23 THE MADISON MUSIC SCENE featuring KYLE HENDERSON 5:30 PM, 18+, $6 / $9 under 21

08/23 MIDWESTERN CHARM w/ Heavy Looks, Little Legend 10 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21


08/25 THE RYAN MCGRATH BAND 8 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

08/26 BOB LOG III w/ Roboman 9 PM, 18+, $10

08/27 SYNAPPSIS DJ DUO (Hendrix Gullixson & Tanner Mclean) 9 PM, 18+, $5 /$8 under 21

08/28 THE RUNNER UPS w/ Butchered, Bedtime Bandits 9 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

08/29 THE FAITH HILLS HAVE EYES w/ EME, Fault Line Empires, The Frenetic 9 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21


08/31 SLOTHTROP MUSIC NIGHT  featuring Dan Kennedy, Sexy Ester, Jeff German & the Blankety Blanks, Marty Finkel, Eric Hester, Corinne McKnight 8 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21


The Frequency
121 W. Main
Madison, WI 53703


Words of Fang: Pay To Play

Pay 2 Play

By Fang VonWrathenstein, Lords of the Trident

Not everyone in the music business is an angel. And no, I’m not talking about those gritty, sleaze-rock bands called “Sex Angels” or “Dirrrty Sinners.” I’m talking about jerks who steal money from hard-working bands. For every one Fang VonWrathenstein, giving out free advice and asking nothing in return (*cough cough buy my album cough*), you have ten jerks trying to sell you false stardom. What am I talking about? Pay-to-play scams.

pay to play

What is a pay-to-play scam?

They come in many different forms, but the majority of them ask you to purchase a certain number of tickets from a promoter ahead of time and sell them to your fans. Usually if you sell a certain (usually unreachable) amount of tickets – say, 20 tickets for $20 apiece ($400), you’ll make back the money you paid for all the tickets. And if you don’t, well – at least you get to share the main stage with a bigger-name act, right?

…not always. Many venues (The Rave in Milwaukee, WI is notorious for this) will put “pay-to-play” bands on side stages, bar stages, and the like. They’ll put them on very early, very late, or even while the headlining band is playing! Let’s say you’re a huge fan of Scar Symmetry, and you decide to play a side stage at their concert. How pissed would you (and your fans) be if you were playing the side stage while Scar Symmetry was playing on the main stage? I’ve seen it happen.

Some venues will not make you pay for tickets up front, but will expect you to sell a number of tickets to your fans. In some very rare circumstances this can work out in your favor. You should ask yourself (and/or the promoter) the following questions:

  • Would enough of our fans buy tickets and travel to see (headliner band in question) and us?
  • Are the tickets fairly priced?
  • Are we playing the main stage, or some crappy side stage? If we’re playing the main stage, when are we playing?
  • How many people can we expect to see us at the timeslot we’re in?
  • Are there any additional incentives? For example, if the venue sells out all the opening bands make $100 or something like that?
  • Based on the headlining band, the timeslot, and the ticket price, can we expect to make a decent number of new fans?
  • Are we allowed to sell merch? Do we need to upscale our prices to meet the headlining band’s prices? For example – do we need to sell our $10 shirts for $25?
  • Does the venue take any cut of our merch sales?
  • What are the penalties for not meeting our ticket sale goal?

If enough of these points are in your favor, you may consider playing the show. For example, my band recently opened for HELLOWEEN in Illinois. Our fan base had enough interest in seeing us and Helloween that we were able to sell the required 25 tickets quite easily. We had the option of selling the tickets for $25 and taking a $5 profit on each ticket, or selling them for $20. Obviously we were more interested in getting rid of the tickets than profiting from the venture, so we sold them for $20. We played on the main stage, but at a crappy time slot. Still, we probably played to 100-150 people who were really into our music. All in all, it was a pretty good time, and we’ve established a good working relationship with the venue. They’ve also promised us a better time slot next time.

This is a rare example of pay-to-play working out well for a band. It is important to remember that this is not the norm! You have to be very selective when selecting these types of shows. If it smelly fishy, turn it down.

Even though the Helloween show was pay-to-play, at least it was a legit show, and we didn’t have to buy the tickets in advance. There are some situations where pay-to-play is a complete scam…

The worst of the worst – Gorilla Music

If you’ve been in a band for more than six months, you’ve no doubt been approached by someone from “Gorilla Music” or “Gorilla Productions” offering you a spot in a battle of the bands. These battles are usually on an off night (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday), and promise BIG PRIZES for the winner of the battle. The winner of the battle will be determined by “crowd participation” – so you’ll want to bring as many of your fans as you can in order to win. Did I mention you need to sell tickets to the event? And the tickets are usually priced at $10 apiece? But don’t worry about that – the winner will get $500 and 20 hours of studio time!

How much of that $10 ticket price do you, the band selling the tickets get to keep? You guessed it – $0. All of the money goes to the promoter to “cover expenses.” So, let’s break this down:

  • The promoter tries to fill 10 band slots for the battle
  • Each band gets 15 minutes to play
  • Tickets sell for $10

Let’s assume that each band sells only 10 tickets. That’s 10 x $10 = $100. Multiply that by 10 bands and you have $1,000. Then the promoter randomly picks some winner, gives them $500, and walks away with $500 in his pocket. How much work did the promoter have to do to actually promote the show? Nothing!

Most bands that actually win these battles sell far more than $500 in tickets before they “win” their $500. And that 20 hours in-studio time? Mostly bought on the cheap from no-name studios who know that finishing anything will take far more than 20 hours of time. In a recording studio, 20 hours is nothing. There have even been reports of “winning” bands being promised the money in the form of a check in the mail (that never arrives), and the studio time at a studio that doesn’t even exist.

Just say no

“Gorilla Productions” (and companies like them) prey on young, inexperienced musicians. They fill their ears with dreams of stardom. They say the battles will be attended, on average, by 250 – 300 people. Ladies and gentlemen, the picture below is from an actual Gorilla Productions battle of the bands. Feast your eyes on the sea of people:


Yup, there are your 250 people. Most of the people in the picture are in the other bands that are competing. There’s no other way to say it – these guys are scam artists. And they’re stealing from musicians, for Dio’s sake! We already have no money! Steal from a multinational corporation or crooked lawyer, not from poor musicians. What’s a greater sin – stealing $1,000 from a rich person, or $25 from a poor person? If any of these guys contact you, tell them that you (and Fang) say they can go die in a fire.

If you want to read more about the “Gorilla Productions” scam, check out the very detailed page here:

Why spend $500+ to play for 15 minutes when you could use that money to set up and publicize your own show? When it comes to pay-to-play gigs, your first instinct should be to just say no. And your second instinct should be to hunt down anyone associated with these scams and light them on fire. And when you’re about to flick the match in their face, all “action movie style,” tell ‘em… “Fang sent me.”


Are you a band that owes your success to my pearls of wisdom? Do you wish there was some way you could pay me back? Well there is! Buy the Lords of the Trident’s album off AmazonMP3, iTunes, or BandCamp, watch our music videos on YouTube, and visit us online -

Does this article look familiar?  It should.  It was previously published here:  Don’t worry; we have permission to share.
Featured image borrowed from

Welcome to the Family – My Introduction to the Madison Music Scene Through a Night at the MAMAs


Words by Máire Jacobs

Photos by Jeff Blankenship

It’s a Sunday night, and instead of occupying the usual spot on my couch with Netflix’s latest original series playing on the television, I’m standing in front of the Capitol Theater at the Overture Center, waiting for the first attendees of the Madison Area Music Awards to arrive. I’ve swapped my Sunday-night-sweatpants for a flamingo-pink cocktail dress; there is a new pair of ambitiously high heels on my feet, and I’m desperately trying to remember any interview I’ve ever seen before. “Do I ask people what they’re wearing?” I think. “Is that a thing?

To say I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I volunteered to attend the Madison Area Music Awards with Project Famous would be a bit of an understatement.

I did my research, of course. When Project Famous first asked if I would like to attend the award show with them, I started looking into it. The Madison Area Music Awards is an annual celebration put on by the Madison Area Music Association, affectionately abbreviated to MAMA. MAMA is all about supporting local and particularly, youth music. They provide financial assistance and resources to youth music programs, raise awareness and promote support of such programs, as well as of the Madison music community in general. They also recognize the achievements of students, teachers, and Madison-area musicians. One of the ways they recognize these achievements is the Grammy-esque Madison Area Music Awards.MAMAs Awards

I myself had been to a show or two at The Frequency, a popular local music venue here in Madison, so I considered myself qualified to be a part of the event.

Arriving on the scene, expected to interview local musicians, I was seized with a panic. I didn’t know any local musicians. I hardly even knew what a musician was. Had I ever seen an instrument in my life? I couldn’t remember.

The scene in front of the Capitol Theater was this: a cluster of cameras and their operators were planted in the entrance like a grove of technological trees that had sprung up overnight. They were aimed at the specially erected Red Carpet, hosted by Project Famous, where the musicians were encouraged to walk upon arriving. This walk could be accomplished in about thirty steps, or half a dozen large jumps, but the presence of two interview crews along the way forestalled any potential attempts of leapfrog. The red carpet was flanked by the usual tables you find at an Overture Center event, local businesses and organizations with merchandise related to the show. The Madison Public Library had a table there, as well as Heid Music, which is a major sponsor of the MAMAs. MAMAs Group

Straddling the line between attendee and crew, I was there early, so the red carpet walking had yet to begin. Having given several hours, dozens of text messages, and twice as many snapchats to the determination of an appropriate outfit for the event, I was curious to see the fashion choices others had made. To be honest, I was expecting the presenters and MAMAs executives to look like Hollywood stars at the Oscars, while I was expecting the musicians to all be wearing some combination of leather jackets, daringly-low or just fully open shirts displaying rows of chain necklaces, and painted-on skinny jeans. Apparently in my mind all musicians dress like Mick Jagger in the 1980s.

The first person I ended up talking to was technically a musician, but also happened to be the president of the Madison Area Music Association. This was Roy Elkins, founder and CEO of Broadjam, Inc, who shook my hand backstage while neatly stacking bottles of Vitamin Water on a tray full of ice. Elkins was jovial and friendly, and spoke with a lot of excitement and passion about the Awards. This was the eleventh year for the MAMAs, he told me, and he had a really positive feeling about it.

“There have been a couple hiccups, but that’s usual,” he said. “Overall, it’s going great.”

As Elkins continued to arrange the snack table in the backstage area (to make room for pizza, he explained) we also talked about the algorithm for voting in the award show that the Association has been working on perfecting for a while. It’s an algorithm that weights votes in certain categories so the votes coming from musicians have a little more impact than the votes coming from the fans. This is done to encourage more fair and accurate recognition of talent and skill, and is something Elkins learned from working with the Country Music Awards.

Elkins’ positive, welcoming attitude did a lot to soothe my nerves about being underqualified to participate in the event. As I made my way from backstage to the red carpet area, I heard snippets of conversations about local film, local business, about people’s kids and about what kind of drinks could be ordered from the bar. Everything and everyone seemed to embody a surprisingly elegant intersection of high-class industry professionalism, and down-to-earth Midwestern casualness. MAMAs Drums

The musicians began to arrive then, and I saw I was half-right about my Mick Jagger fantasy. Some musicians were in more traditional red carpet-style clothing like evening gowns and suits, some went more edgy or hip in plaid shirts, bow-ties, and jeans, and one band went full out with fantasy battle armor, complete with masks and cloaks. There was absolutely no indication that I didn’t belong there, and not a single person was demanding to know my local music credentials.

I inserted myself right before the red carpet, and was soon caught up in the giddy excitement that was permeating the room. I talked to the band wearing the fantasy armor and found they were Lords of the Trident, who would later that night be winners of the “Hard Rock/Punk Album,” “Performer,” and “Singer of the Year” awards. Their leather-plated, chain-mail-accented armor was paired with ties, shorts, and glasses that could have belonged to some college kid majoring in computer science and going to his first job interview. For all the conflicting whimsy of their outfits, Lords of the Trident were composed, relaxed, and friendly. They expressed honest appreciation for their fans and talked about the fun of performing, pausing in the middle of our conversation to stick their tongues out and make the rock-on sign for our photographer.


I also spoke to Kyle Henderson, one of the most experienced and prolific musicians there, performer at the awards show and winner of “Male Vocalist of the Year.” He was approachable and kind, and expressed his enthusiasm for keeping his music and performances interesting and exciting for the fans. Anyone who is familiar with Kyle Henderson and his work can see his dedication to this throughout his long and varied career. I asked him how was it being a musician in Madison, and received a glowing, genuine speech on the values of the city, its venues, and its music fans.

As everyone I approached was getting more excited and loosening up, so was I. I’d been practicing a ton of questions earlier that day, but I was hardly thinking of any of them at this point. This wasn’t an interview, this was a bunch of people hanging out together, sharing a love of music.

One question I started asking every musician was “What is your favorite venue in Madison to play?” I was interested in the answer to this largely for my own knowledge and benefit. Even before seeing many of these bands perform I wanted to know where to find them again. I was hooked by the feeling of it all, the sense of family and camaraderie that everyone from musicians to fans was happy to share.

The ranking of best music venues in Madison, as compiled from the answers of everyone I talked to, is High Noon Saloon, The Frequency, and The Inferno. It was Helen Feest of The Blue Sundays, winner ofBest Youth Female Vocalist,” who told me about the acoustics of High Noon Saloon, and the control it gave her over her voice. “And,” she added, “It’s just cool.”

Another successful, impressive youth group I talked to was Modern ModThey were a bunch of cutely quirky eighteen-year-olds bubbling with excitement, but just like the other youth bands I spoke to they were mature, gracious, and articulate. Set to perform later that evening, they even dodged my zinger question with ease, which was, “If you all switched instruments right before you performed, what would happen?”


They exchanged glances, and laughed good-naturedly. “Probably not much,” they said. “We’d manage.”

Another incredible musician I had the good fortune to speak to was Annabel Lee. And by speak to, I really mean gush over. I had heard Annabel Lee’s name circling a lot throughout the night, and seen it on the list of MAMAs nominees what seemed to be close to a thousand times. I knew exactly who she was when she arrived at the Capitol Theater, dressed in a beautiful bird-patterned silk dress with retro-styled hair and makeup. This was a woman with control over the room, oozing charisma and confidence as she made her way to the red carpet.

I nearly knocked her over in my excitement to chat, tottering in my now pinching heels, and practically squeaked rather than formed words as I introduced myself to her. “Madison’s own Adele” was the first thought that popped into my head upon meeting her. “You’re an idiot,” was the second. “You have no idea what her singing sounds like. What if she just does animal impressions and screams a bit?

(Annabel Lee, of course, performed later during the award show, and had a smoky voice just as powerful and engaging as Adele, though in her own genre – No animal impressions or screaming were done.)


Everyone seemed to know Annabel, dozens of people congratulating her, hugging her, shaking her hands. In the midst of the chaos she still made time to talk to me. We chatted about her gorgeous dress and hair, her favorite venues to play, and her impressive number of nominations. I had a list in my purse of the nominees, meant to be a sort of cheat sheet for myself, and Annabel asked to see it. She couldn’t remember all the awards she had been nominated for; there were that many of them. Clearly something of a local music celebrity, she was gracious and sweet, and when she whirled away into the adoring crowd, I had fallen a little bit in love.

Shortly thereafter, the award show began. The theater was full of people, and the people were full of enthusiasm and appreciation. Every nominee announced, every screen projected, every person on stage, elicited a raucous reaction from the crowd, unflagging bursts of whoops and claps. This wasn’t drunken cheering, but rather the same genuine excitement I had felt during the Red Carpet Pre-Show. This was intimate and passionate. Everyone in this room really wanted to be there, and really cared about what was happening. I imagine being on the stage as a performer or winner was something like getting a prestigious award from a world-respected organization that knows all of your work, but also like putting on an encore of the monologue from your high-school play for your loving grandparents. MAMAs_Keyboard

This unique mix of prestige and familiarity continued for the rest of the night. There were a lot of hallmarks of a traditional awards shows, like a lifetime achievement award to Leotha Stanley, the founder of the University of Wisconsin Student Gospel Choir, the “In Memoriam” section, and acceptance speeches. There were also elements of what felt a bit like high school graduation, and everything was then scrambled together and presented at a cool local concert.

In my opinion one of the coolest things about the MAMAs is the focus on youth and youth music. As someone who in a public school music program was given the chance of learning a musical instrument that I would then play for the following ten years, I know the value of providing opportunities for music to youth. I had the chance to talk to two such youth, members of the band The Blue Sundays, later winners of “Youth Song of the Year.” They were killing it fashion-wise, classic but contemporary, one in a long blue dress, the other with a matching blue tie. They were mature, well-spoken, and tons of fun. I asked them how they had discovered the MAMAs and they talked to me about Launchpad, a music competition for high school students that offers, among other things, a grand prize of free studio recording time in Madison and a Summerfest appearance. This competition is presented by the Wisconsin School Music Association; many of its winners and participants were also receiving awards at the MAMAs.

The focus on youth was clear during the awards. There was huge applause from crowd during all the youth awards, and the care and passion of everyone from MAMA was apparent. All of MAMAs funds come from sponsors, member fees, and donations. Because of this no one was shy about asking for money. The honesty of those asking was refreshing. The youth and the youth programs were put front and center. It’s one thing to have someone  say, “Please give us money,” and another thing for someone to say, “Please give us money and here is why” and then show you a bunch a pre-teen girls playing hip-hop songs on their violins. Incidentally, this performance from the Madison Music Makers Ensemble was a big favorite of the night. MAMAs

While showcasing the youth and their current achievements, the awards also showed its audience the future these youths might have. Established bands like The Dang-Its, not one of whom were close to eighteen years old, gave an energetic, folksy performance, complete with banjos, tribal-patterned fabrics, and trilby hats. And of course Kyle Henderson rounded out the awards in big, bluesy fashion.   Modern Mod performed as well, their surprising talent and stage presence a rather perfect bridge between the youngest of the musicians just entering music programs at their schools, and the well-established expertise of someone like Kyle Henderson. And who doesn’t love a female drummer and a female bass player?

The entire award show was saturated with a love for music, and a love for Madison. The word “community” has perhaps never been more applicable than when used to describe those performing, learning, teaching, and appreciating music in Madison.

Following the awards show was the after party, hosted by Project Famous at The Frequency, where we’d get to see performances by “Electronic Album of the Year” winner Midas Bison and “Electronic Song of the Year” nominee Joey Broyles. People wandered there in their own time, but nearly without fail everyone’s first ten minutes after arrival were spent at the buffet tables.

Upstairs Downstairs Catering provided the food, and a combination of it being delicious and many of the after-partiers being MAMAs crew who hadn’t had time for dinner, meant it was one of the biggest hits of the night. Immediately following the awards it was pretty much, “Hey, great show, right? Excuse me while I stuff as many of these stuffed mushrooms into my face as I can.”

Eventually once we’d handled our hunger, everyone settled in and began socializing, and Midas Bison stepped up to perform. The family feeling from the award show continued during the after party. Performers, presenters, winners, nominees, and attendees were mingled throughout the Frequency, sitting at tables, ordering from the bar, raiding those amazing buffet tables, and tearing it up on the dance floor. Modern Mod led that particular charge, dancing to Midas Bison and Joey Broyles with the same carefree energy they’d had all night. There were even people there who hadn’t been at the MAMAs, that had come in off the street. Possibly they had been drawn in by the spreads of free food, but they definitely stayed for the experience. As with the awards show, everyone was welcome.


I started the night feeling like maybe I didn’t belong. I ended the night as part of a group, as one of the cool kids, if the cool kids are members of a small but powerful music community who care for and support each other, and who know how to have a good time. (Trust me on this; those are most certainly the cool kids).

You want to get into the local music scene yourself? Stop by any music venue on a Saturday evening. Ask your public school what kind of music programs they have available for kids. Find out the name of the violinist totally jazzing up every farmer’s market so you can check out their website, send them an enthusiastic email, and buy their MP3s. The barrier to entry isn’t high; this is a big, sprawling family of all ages, with all kinds of expertise, growing and teaching the younger generation, celebrating and appreciating the older one.

This family’s house is always open; they’re happy to take in any kind of stray off the street, whether you’re a classically trained pianist or you thought The Inferno was the latest Spielberg movie.

And when this family throws a party? It totally rocks.

To see more MAMAs photos, go to

Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Rocky Horror Show: Live at The Majestic!


Photos by Daniel Atwater
Words by Simone LaPierre and Alicia McCanna

What to do at midnight on a Saturday in downtown Madison? Well, if it was the night of Rhythm and Booms, fans of Rocky Horror Picture Show packed into The Majestic for the Rocky Horror Show stage play. Jam-packed with excited fans and newcomers, there was an array of colorful lights and colorful people there to watch the film and experience the spectacle of all that is Rocky Horror. Whether you were a transvestite alien from planet Transylvania or just a small-town ‘virgin’ from northern Wisconsin, you were welcomed with flying flair, raunchy commentary, and lots of time-warping. We sent out one of our daring Project Famous members, who I knew to be a great fan of Rocky Horror Picture Show by the Tim Curry as “Dr. Frank-N-Furter” painting that hangs on her dining room wall. Alicia McCanna recounts the evening well: Rocky_Horror

I am ashamed to say as much of a Rocky Horror Picture Show fan I am, I had never been to a screening of the movie. The times I had viewed the movie had only been in the comfort of my own home; however, that changed when I went at the end of June with my best friend Simone. The movie was screened at The Majestic and featured the players of Velvet Darkness.

            Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I had heard stories of comments being said on the screen, shenanigans that “Rocky Horror virgins” had to complete, and of course, the “Time Warp.” Being a “virgin,” my interest was piqued as to what will occur. When the emcee called for the virgins to come to the front of the stage, I boldly went up there, expecting the worst. The emcee asked all sorts of Rocky trivia, which I answered under my breath while the other virgins tried to figure out the answer. I even volunteered for the “physical event,” which contained linking with other virgins and getting the hoola hoop to the middle. Our team won, and we got prizes; I immediately traded my bubbles for a glow ring that I wore as a crown the rest of the night. Rocky_Horror

             The movie began, and I was pumped. I screamed at the comments I knew to make, and danced my fanny off when the “Time Warp” came on. The Velvet Darkness players were amazing to watch along with the movie, especially the gentleman playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Those are some shoes to fill, and he did it quite well. There was so much energy in the theatre; it was hard not to feed off of it.

            I would definitely go see Rocky Horror Picture Show again, and this time around I would probably try to make sure I know more of the comments that were said during certain parts of the film. Otherwise, if you are looking for a good time, this will get anyone out of their comfort zone and into lots of mayhem. Rocky_Horror

Velvet Darkness is a group of local variety artists who specialize is the fanaticism of Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) and plan to bring it back around for many more showings. Please visit their website to find out about future shows and how to get involved.

Madison Art Hub: A New Community for Artists

Art Hub Cover

Photos and Words by Christy Grace

On the evening of Saturday, June 7th, Madison Art Hub officially opened their doors to the public with a Grand Opening celebration and gallery show. Located at 78 North Bryan Street, the simple and industrial exterior of the Art Hub sits in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood. Once inside, a beautiful, clean, white gallery space welcomes; behind the gallery wall is a network of art studios surrounding an open, shared workspace. All of this is framed by a bright lime green which is also echoed on the logo and business cards. This specific color holds significance to the owners and creators of the Art Hub, Racheal and Jeff Gabriel, as it was their wedding color. This husband and wife team has been dreaming about a place like this since before they met and that aspiration is what brought them together.MAH_Jeff_Rachael

Finding a Home

Both Rachael and Jeff grew up well-supported in their interests in art. Jeff shares, “I picked up photography as a child with a point and shoot disposable camera and couldn’t shake it, where Rachael established her flare for the creative back in elementary school with a science project involving a paper maché scarlet macaw, which she still has to this day. Rachael then went off to UWGB for arts management, and I popped around the state a little until I also ended up in Green Bay pursuing fine arts with an emphasis in photography. After she and I got together we moved around the state some more during which Rachael worked with the ARTgarage in Green Bay, The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and the Center for Visual Arts in Wausau. I spent my time working on my own projects and teaching photography classes.”

With an art-centric life, the Gabriels went in search of a place that welcomed and inspired creativity. Rachael recounts, “We came to Madison in 2012 looking for a city with culture and an art scene that we wanted to be a part of. Other places we’ve lived before had good communities for the arts but we just never quite fit in and now that we are here we feel much more welcome and part of the community. We’ve been thrilled to see all of the diversity in Madison’s artists in terms of styles and content and are equally excited about everyone’s passion for it as well.”

Dreams into Reality

About a year ago, the idea for the Art Hub started coming to the foreground. Jeff explains, “The idea has been in the air since I was still in my teens and have kept it creeping around in my head ever since even bringing it up to Rachael on our first date, only to find out she had had similar aspirations. I assume it’s what got me a second date. After the concept started to become more of a reality to us, though, we began a lot of careful planning. We met with organizations, business owners, and just other artists to help form our ideas, give criticisms, and warn us of potential hazards and risks. Otherwise, we went through pretty customary steps for a small business trying to get off the ground and finally got ourselves up and running earlier this year.”

Finding a place for the Art Hub was a not easy. Jeff explains, “Frankly the biggest challenge we had led to our biggest success. Finding a suitable space at the right price, and planning out a functional floor plan, were both kind of contingent upon the other. We searched for months and came to the conclusion that the only way we would achieve the appropriate balance of studios, gallery, and workspace was to fully customize what we found. We’re both very proud of what we’ve done, actually. Between ourselves, a few friends, and some family, we hammered every nail inside our studio which was previously an empty warehouse. Now that it’s complete, I really think we have a great space with some excellent flow.”

Filling the Gallery

With the hard physical work of creating the Art Hub complete, the time came to fill the gallery for the opening show. Jeff notes that the first step was easy: “We just put a call out to artists for submissions on Craigslist and Facebook. The response was unexpected, to say the least. We received dozens of submissions from Wisconsin artists and, unfortunately, that great response made deciding very difficult. We wanted to showcase several artists but still give each one enough space in the gallery to really make a statement. On top of that, we had to comb through all of the different styles and find things that meshed well with one another but were not so similar that it seemed like the same artist. I’d like to say it was as easy as just ‘I like this one’ but really we had to set aside a lot of submissions that we loved to create a cohesive theme. It really just boiled down to a lot of staring at a monitor with photos side by side.”

The artists selected for the opening show covered a wide range with photography, painting, and woodwork including Chris Conboy, Sandra Klingbeil, Brian Carter, Eric Peterson, and Jeff Murphy. Though at first a little worried about the turnout because of the infancy of the studio, the Gabriels were thrilled with the reception and the amount of support. “Everyone I got a chance to talk to was very enthusiastic about the show and our studio as a whole, which was very reassuring. We even helped nab a sale for the photographer exhibiting his work at the very end of the night.” MAH_Gallery

Inside the Hub

During the opening, guests were given a chance to tour the Art Hub. Each section in the building holds a specific purpose and promotes creation and community. Rachael shares the details: “We have 17 private studio spaces that are approximately 10’x10’ or 10’x12’ (the size of an office space) respectively priced at $225 and $250/month. Artists who rent a private studio space will have 24/7 access to the building and shared workshop. The spaces can be rented on a monthly basis, but artists who commit to a year will also get a free week of exhibition time in the gallery and a featured page on our website to share information about themselves and their work. As we are still a young studio, we do have spaces available and we encourage anyone interested in seeing or learning more about the studios to contact us.

“The open area in the center is our communal workshop, which we’ve furnished with whatever tools we had access to and a few more that have been donated to us – from saws and had tools to ceramics equipment and rock cutters. We wanted to leave an area in our studio that not only served as a good staging ground for projects, but would encourage the artists to see and meet each other. Often the easiest way as an artist to get over the bumps in a work is simply to get a little fresh insight or inspiration, and I’m confident the communal nature of the workshop will help to do that. MAH_Interior_Room MAHkilnRS

“Our gallery is a beautiful space to display artworks approximately 18’x35’ with track lighting, an elegant hanging system, and lounge area. We want the gallery to be an inviting place where you can take time to explore each work and just hang out, too. We will host some exhibits by invitation to feature artists or themes we find particularly interesting, but if an artist or group wishes to display their work in a professional gallery setting, we are happy to rent out the gallery space.

“The gallery rents for $100/week and includes our assistance in hanging, lighting, and labeling the artwork. We encourage anyone who uses the gallery space to have an opening or closing reception. As for future shows, we are in the process of finding artists for our upcoming shows. If anyone is interested in exhibiting their work, we encourage them to contact us to see how we can work together.”

How to Connect

Currently, the Art Hub is open to the public on Thursdays from 2-8pm or by appointment. As they grow, they plan to expand public open hours and services for better accessibility and opportunities for non-resident artists and art enthusiasts. Those interested in learning about, visiting, or joining the Art Hub can contact Jeff by phone at 608-284-8277 or by email at Follow Madison Art Hub on Facebook or check out the webpage at to learn about upcoming exhibits, events, classes, and other Madison area arts opportunities.