Maytan Music Center is hosting a new concert series in its revamped performance room
The cheers from an energetic audience, the raw instrumentals, the between-song banter from the musicians onstage—the feel of a live performance is something a studio can never quite capture. That’s why Maytan After Hours, the new venue opening above downtown’s Maytan Music Center, is offering an extra incentive for the acts it’s set to host: live recordings.
“There’s not very many being done now,” explains head engineer and visionary behind Maytan After Hours, Chris Nixon. “It’s just very polished recordings that take away from the warmth of what a performance is—so that’s what I’m trying to accomplish here, plus introducing new technology.”
The new technology in reference includes state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment, which Nixon has access to thanks to his other job, working sound for local country singer-songwriter Rick Hayes.
The alternating lights and sharpness of the speakers aren’t the only atmosphere enhancers in the formerly cafeteria-ish space. A brand new stage replaces the little plank in the back of the room. The space also features a backdrop mural painted by local artist John Becker, and, soon, a dance floor.
Keeping with the Maytan Music tradition, the venue plans to be family-friendly, with early show times between 7-8 p.m., affordable prices between $5-$20, all-age access, and a smoke-free, alcohol-free environment.
“If you want to go hear a band, you have to go downtown, and some of the places are really small, like coffee houses and whatnot where you can only fit about 25-30 people,” says owner Marianne Maytan. “Sometimes bands want to play to a bigger audience, and we can seat up to 150 people here.”
There’s also the possibility for snacks, with a concession stand window being one of the venue’s formerly untapped features.
“It’s just going to be a nice vibe,” says Maytan After Hours promoter Dan Phillips. “You come to hear the music, you’re not here to drink or party.”
Audiences will be able to listen to everything from jazz to bluegrass to spoken word, maybe even a bit of flamenco thrown in the mix. The only thing ruled out is the heavier stuff—no punk or metal shows will be gracing the stage anytime soon.
“This to me brings out something that’s acoustic sounding,” says Phillips. “When it starts to get super loud, it just kinda blows the speakers.”
Being stationed above Maytan Music Center, Phillips plans to use the space, which formerly acted as the Reno Orchestra’s rehearsal room, as a collaborative workshop. Both the music store and the venue hold classes for aspiring and veteran musicians.
“Marianne is definitely going to have some workshops here, and we’re going to be doing some, as well,” says Nixon. “And it’s all going to go through the nicer PA stuff, so we have a good quality sound.”
The melding of the two units’ business plans will help bring in a fresh crowd to the family owned store. With nationwide chains popping up, the local guys can get overshadowed.
“When you have a big company like Guitar Center or Walmart come into town, it takes a sizable amount of the business away,” says Maytan. “It hurts … because of the deep pockets they have, they can offer a lot of different products that we may have been able to carry at one time but haven’t anymore.”
While her shop has been holding court in its current location since 1959, with midtown’s continual growth spurt drawing new people into the area, there is still a need to get the word out that they not only exist, but also what they have to offer.
“We’re hoping through this it will increase our customer base, our involvement in the community, and let people know that we are here,” says Maytan about Maytan After Hours. “Awareness. It’s another way to say, ‘Hey, check us out.’ We’re just trying to make music happen in our town. It’s all part of the trying-to-stay alive thing, as much as the music scene in Reno.”
The desire to help each other out and keep a steady flow of both income and people coming through the doors is mutual between the music store and the venue. “We’re here to help raise awareness of Maytan,” says Phillips. “Also, to bring more energy to this neighborhood.”
Contrast is the main focus of Maytan After Hours’ music taste—they’re primed to bring in both local and national acts outside the norm of a local venue.
To ring in the grand opening Saturday, May 7, L.A.-based act Shoestring Trio will be breaking in the new stage, along with local jazz group Clocks Magic Bandits.
The touring headliners will bring an acoustic, all-instrumental mix of just about everything.
“We love to play music from lots of different styles and places,” says Shoestring Trio musician Robby Marshall. “We do a lot of gypsy jazz, we like to do Brazilian music, but we’re also known for doing pop covers and stuff like that, too. The music is really lively and spontaneous.”
And if the opening night crowd is down to show some moves and try out that new dance floor, they might get a really special treat from the guys. “You might hear Lady Gaga if the party starts getting going. We like to leave it open,” says Marshall. Adding that people can expect to get a full show for their cover charge. “We’re probably going to play all night. It’s hard to get us to stop playing. We’re kind of known for sabotaging parties with our instruments. A musical attack, but it’s gentle! All our instruments are made of wood.”
Some of the band’s members have played in Reno before but never under the current name and line-up. They say they’re excited to return to the Biggest Little City for a number of reasons—being able to crack in a new venue is only one of the perks.
“I was pushing for Reno,” says Marshall in regards to the tour stop. “It’s such a cool little place there’s a lot more than meets the eye—it’s got such a creative energy flowing from the locals. And I’m excited to see this venue … there’s a setup where we can record. That’s really cool.”
With the eclectic acts lined-up, coupled with the high-end technology Maytan After Hours has to offer, the equation seems to add up for success.
“The sound’s amazing, and it’s above a cool music store,” says Phillips. “I think we’ll start getting people to take chances and come and see stuff that never comes through Reno. All people have to do is show up.”