Acoustic Coal Mine @ The Mars Bar
Herman Jolly Interview
I recently sat down with Herman Jolly to discuss the migration of his Acoustic Coal Mine series to the Mars Bar. The shows now take place one Thursday per month at this Eastlake hideaway after moving from a tiny bar in Georgetown.
NadaMucho.com: What inspired you to start Acoustic Coalmine?
Herman Jolly: This will sound totally self-serving, but basically I just wanted to play a show every week. I got a night from a little bar called the Squid & Inkin Georgetown and invited my musician friends out to play acoustically. I thought it would be a great way to force other musicians to display their solo talents, without their full bands behind them.
NM: Only solo performers on these nights then?
HJ: Mostly. The premise is to have songwriters who usually play with a band do their songs solo. I wanted to create a format that was completely stripped down, like when musicians pound out a new song sitting on their couch, noodling on the guitar, and working out something fresh and exciting. The Acoustic Coal Mine tag is supposed to represent that it takes a lot of hard work to produce a finished song. Most show goers don’t get to see the stripped down part of the process.
KOZ: You are trying to harness that “low key, down and dirty” vibe for the night?
HJ: Exactly. I think it works out well because fans get to see bands in a form they’ve never seen before and the artists have to sit in front of people and fully own what they are doing. They are forced to get up on stage, explore and expand upon their current ideas in front of an audience, and if an idea completely sucks, they hear about it right away and can evolve. There isn’t another showcase in the city doing something like this.
KOZ: I didn’t realize that – that there isn’t another night like this in town. Is this your first time booking a night? How is it wearing the booker hat verses being a performer?
HJ: It’s been tough, but I’ve already learned a lot and have a much greater appreciation for what you guys do. Our first night at the Mars Bar was a little chaotic. I ran into a lot of trouble with people just showing up to play, like it was an open mic. I had to tell a lot of people that they couldn’t just “jump on between sets real quick” or “plug in your electric for a couple songs with your buddy.” I curate this night and I will pick and choose what happens or doesn’t happen, but being an artist, I’m just not accustomed to telling people ‘no’ so that part is tough.
KOZ: Where can people find out more info about the line-ups? And how do musicians interested in Acoustic Coal Mine get in touch with you?
HJ: Like everything music in the world, the Acoustic Coal Mine has a MySpace page. I already have the next couple line-ups set, but I love hearing from other musicians. I open all the nights with a couple songs of my own, so you can also come down to the shows and talk with me in person.
KOZ: The next couple of shows are already booked? Who do you have on tap?
HJ: On June 4 Jason Lytle from Grandaddy will headline. He’s stopping by for an acoustic set after he plays the Paramount Theater, so I’m super stoked to have him grace the stage. Hosting him for an ACM show is exactly what the tone of the night should be like – well-known artists playing a simple set. Hazelwood Motel and Rusty Miller of Jackpot will also perform that night, so it’s going to be an awesome night. I’ve got a lot of other big name artists interested in future ACM dates, so stay tuned.
In the meantime… stay up to date on the Acoustic Coal Mine hosted by Herman Jolly, by visiting http://www.myspace.com/acousticcoalmine, and we’ll see you at the Mars Bar.
Check out the interview NadaMucho.com did with Herman back in 2001.