Except for attending a couple of open mic nights in front of the smaller stage back when the new Monarch Music Hall was the Limelight, I wasn't familiar with the building at all. I brought my friend Melissa with me and as we entered the side door, I was amazed to see what was actually housed there.
It was the first night they were open and my first impression of the Monarch Music Hall was that it felt clean and classy. The layout of the hall and amenities was obviously well thought out and could easily be scaled up or down depending on the event.
I am a fan of lights and lighting (I design the light scenes for our church services.) So, lighting tends to stand out to me. While there aren't any windows in the concert hall, the lights around the edges were a perfect "daylight" color when we came in and when we left. Sometimes people choose colors purely because they enjoy them and sometimes a little color psychology comes into play when creating lighting scenes. I don't know which was the case here, but I enjoyed that touch in particular.
I could imagine hosting just about any type of event there, from a great night of live music to an upscale fundraiser. I look forward to seeing what happens at the Monarch Music Hall in the coming months.
The show was wonderfully put together.
I look forward to watching this episode of State & Water when it airs. WWCT's Roxy Baker and WTVP's Jerry Kolb emceed the event, joking with the audience, keeping events moving, and sharing with everyone a little about PBS programming and State & Water.
I had not heard of The Deep Hollow before this show and I was sufficiently impressed as soon as they started. Their original music was meaningful and beautifully organized, with amazing harmonies.
I don't know what I expected, but I was surprised. I enjoyed them so much and there was so much to take in that I ended up coming home and listening to them for a few hours more that weekend.
Since they were the first artists on stage, I decided to try listening from several different places.
I was pleasantly surprised at how clear the sound was even in the VIP loft at the back of the hall.
I realized quickly that recording over the people in the loft wouldn't work well, but I could still hear The Deep Hollow clearly, even though it was a quieter section of music.
The video "From the Monarch Balcony" is from the short time I recorded from the loft.
I don't always realize what I have access to or what might be a good idea until later.
I was about halfway through the first act before it occurred to me that I could go behind the barricades at the sides of the stage with the all-access wristband I'd been given. One of these days I'll figure it out. All of this is new to me. It still blows me away to see everything that is happening with Peoria Music Live. I didn't quite wrap my brain around what "All-Access" meant until after the show was over.
I did, however record all of the bands from backstage for at least a song or two.
There was a surprise performance from Elizabeth Moen. She sang a couple of songs between The Deep Hollow and Woodland Remedy. Her voice is beautiful and definitely worth jumping over to our YouTube page to hear. She is also scheduled to appear on State & Water later this season.
Next up was Woodland Remedy. In the months since I started Peoria Music Live, I had seen several members of this band join other acts on stage, but had never seen them perform together.
I expected to hear a some covers and some originals, and I'm always kind of curious what I'm going to hear re-imagined and performed from different genres. I was surprised to realize I was listing to a Beatles song at one point. A clip of A Day in the Life is also on our YouTube page.
They describe their music as "bluejamgrass bootstompin' breakdown."
And while I don't really know what that means musically, I loved their sound and the way they all flowed together. If I hadn't read it in an article about them, I never would have guessed that Woodland Remedy was originally a trio. They started with the guitar, banjo, and bass, adding the fiddle and the dobro later.
In case you aren't familiar with it, the instrument in the foreground of that video is a dobro. In fact, until I saw Ryan Davidson play it with the Henhouse Prowlers at a show in December, I didn't even know what a dobro was. I asked a friend about it later, "You know, the thing that looked like a sideways guitar..."
Someone is going to tell me I shouldn't admit that... but I've never been shy about telling people I am learning as I go. I'm probably not going to tell any music experts anything they don't already know. I may even say some things they don't agree with! But, I'd rather be myself and be honest and show others who are missing out on all the things I was before I started Peoria Music Live, and get some of them out to join us, than talk over their heads to impress a music expert.
Thankfully, you don't have to be an expert to love, share, or even write about music.
I've never seen someone who can take command of an entire audience while sitting in a chair on a stage with his guitar the way Chicago Farmer, Cody Deikohff, does. His lyrics and stories intertwine seamlessly... and even if you've heard the song five hundred times, you probably haven't heard the story that he's telling with it. And if you have, you just don't care because he is so great at telling them.
I think what struck me the most was that while I've seen Cody before in a much smaller venue, in the 1200+ capacity Monarch, he seemed just as at home on the stage and captured just as much attention from the audience.
I was equally excited to see PhanieRae and the Soul Shakers take the stage.
I had only seen them once before, but had been trying to make it back to a show ever since.
The night before the State & Water show, this band won the competition for a spot in Summer Camp 2018. They came in to the Monarch ready for a repeat performance with a lot of new material and a new drummer as well.
This band has undergone a lot of changes in the months since I first heard them and they seem to be all for the better. I already have plans to meet up with friends to see their next show. You can check out our Events List to see when it is.
When the night was over, I took more pictures of the interior of the Monarch Music Hall, took a quick walk around the back of the stage, and then slipped out to try to catch another show that night before heading home.