The Loading Dock- Speakeasy to open
BY RANDALL WASZYNSKI
The Loading Dock, a venue for new and emerging performing artists, will be opening in Patchogue on March 15. An address cannot be given, though. Only GPS coordinates available on the Loading Dock’s Facebook page can navigate you to the location.
The venue was first announced on their Facebook page on Dec. 13, 2017 and fliers, Post-it notes and sidewalk chalk ads have since been posted along paths in Patchogue Village.
The plan, according to the Loading Dock’s executive director (who chose to remain anonymous), is to schedule events on select Thursdays. As of now, a three-event comedy series is lined up — one in March, April and May — all of which will be hosted by Joseph Vecsey, who produced and appeared in Adam Sandler’s “Sandy Wexler.” He also expressed interest in scheduling theatrical reading events on additional Thursdays within that time frame.
The venue’s directors invited music promoters and other interested parties to the location on Feb. 28 to allow the community to see the 150-person space. “We’re giving people a place to start, a place to be heard and a place to play original music,” the executive director said. “So we’re not stuck playing covers.”
The majority of those who attended are musically driven, including performers, event organizers and Joe Rock from WBAB 102.3. And consisting of such, the group discussed how to bring more original talent to Long Island, how to create paths to success within the industry for that talent, and the challenges faced trying to reach those goals.
Rock, who is also a rock musician, said to the group that the radio station has opened airtime for homegrown music and that it had once flourished. “Where that started to fail was when the artists weren’t promoting.”
The conversation dug into the conflict for radio stations like WBAB that host the overwhelming desire of the community to play tributes and covers, which means less airtime for original artists. “We started to notice that people weren’t understanding marketing,” said Jason Steinberg, WBAB’s director of marketing and promotion. “And then we move towards some contest gig that was purely focused on marketing, purely focused on how many people you can bring in, and we got push-back on that: ‘Well, we play better than them. Well, they bring in more people than you, they’re going to win.’”
Steinberg noted that Long Island has an oddly large tribute-band scene compared to the other cities he has worked in, like Chicago, Boston, Miami and Hartford.
The performers among those present argued that exposure is the key to success for the original talent on Long Island and that it is the radio station’s duty to create those opportunities. “Original music needs to be played so that people can hear it so that it becomes the background track of their life,” said Johnny Mac, a blues, R&B, funk and reggae performer and member of the Long Island-based Johnny Mac Band. “A small percentage of people will say, ‘I love that band.’ But in order to get the numbers, the exposure has to be millions to get thousands of people to like an original group.”
There are other avenues aside from the radio to attract such numbers, though. Rock suggested an approach similar to what he saw at Pioneer Square in Seattle, where you pay one cover charge to get access to a slew of neighboring bars, where a band would play in one location and, once their set was done, another band would begin their set in the neighboring bar shortly afterwards.
“They all paid attention, they all worked together, and people came down,” Rock said. “They knew, ‘For one price, I can go see all this different music. That band is taking a break anyway ... We already paid the money. Why not just stick our head in over there and see what’s going on?’”
The directors agreed that this was a great idea, but a long-term goal, considering the purpose of this meeting. “This is where this is all going to start,” one of the directors said. “This music scene has the ability to garner national and international attention if we put our heads to it.”
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