Be like Spike
Loud as Folk
Spike McGuire is an anchor of the local music scene. The singer-guitarist-songwriter is a solo performer, the frontman of the folk rock band Six Mile Station, the host of a weekly open mic event, and the curator of Loud as Folk, a monthly concert series that’s celebrating its fifth birthday.
The first Loud as Folk event was held at The Alley in Sparks in April 2011. After The Alley closed in 2014, McGuire was approached by Ryan Goldhammer, one of the owners of Pignic Pub & Patio, about moving the event there. It’s now held on the first Thursday of every month as a semi-official after-party of Art Walk Reno, which itself follows the Nevada Museum of Art’s First Thursday event.
Loud as Folk usually features sets from McGuire, three other local songwriters, and a touring artist. McGuire has recruited performers from as far away as France and Israel, and big names like Reno punk icon Kevin Seconds and Franz Nicolay of the band The Hold Steady. In 2014, McGuire and John Underwood, a band mate in Six Mile Station, turned Loud as Folk into a touring revue.
“We’ve been making regular stops in Oregon and California and having great responses in those places,” said McGuire.
For McGuire, the name Loud as Folk is meant to highlight the kinship between folk music and punk rock. Both rely on big chords, simple song structures, and an emphasis on lyrics. And both folk and punk are “not afraid to get too political,” according to McGuire.
“It started out as a showcase for songwriters with a little more of an edge because I grew up on punk rock, and a lot of those great previous generations of punk rockers who have come around to doing the more folky, acoustic thing.”
He said that the relocation of the event to Pignic has been a good move.
“I tried to take feedback I heard over the years. People didn’t like when it started real late. They didn’t like the smoky bar. They didn’t like driving real far. So now it’s in midtown, starts right at 8 the first Thursday of every month, same time. And you can’t smoke inside. I tried to please everyone.”
The fact that Pignic is in an old converted house also fits the atmosphere of the event.
“There’s this great, rustic, Americana, intimate indoor venue to do the show, and it’s in this old house,” said McGuire. “It’s like a house show in a bar. But then when the summer months come in, we’ve got this huge patio out there … so we start doing shows out there. It’s great because it accommodates the natural ebb and flow that crowds have throughout the year.”
For the fifth anniversary party, Loud as Folk will be stretched into a four day mini-festival, April 7-10, featuring touring acts like Frankie Boots and the County Line from Sebastopol, California, and The John Dough Boys from Medford, Oregon, and Willy Tea Taylor from Oakdale, California. There will also be performances from local acts, including Six Mile Station, Greg Gilmore, Josiah Knight, Lucas Young and more.
“It’s always been a local showcase, so I definitely wanted to bring out a good showing of local talent,” said McGuire.
He also hosts Open Spike Night, an open mic night at Pignic every Tuesday. It’s a potluck dinner where anyone can perform. There’s no schedule—just names drawn at random from a bucket.
“We’ve got an amazing talent pool in Reno of actual working musicians with original material,” said McGuire. He added he’s been impressed by a diverse slate of singers and songwriters at the event, including well known performers, like Leroy Virgil of Hellbound Glory, as well as unknown performers giving it their first shot.
“One thing that really lets me know I’m doing something right with the open mic night is that we have a lot of regulars who don’t come to play,” said McGuire. “They just come for the show.”