The Iridian Gallery at Diversity Richmond has done a great job establishing themselves over the past couple of years as a prime local exhibition space for visual art from the LGBTQ community. Now, they’re looking to further diversify (no pun intended) by adding a musical element to their offerings. The inaugural edition of Iridian Gallery’s Music Salon concert series will take place this Saturday evening, and promises to offer unusual performances in an intimate environment.
“Even though it started out as a visual gallery, we certainly didn’t expect it to always stay that way,” event coordinator Lora Beldon told GayRVA. Beldon and her fellow Iridian committee member Christie Wright came up with the idea of Music Salon as a way to open the gallery up to musicians within the local community. “It’s kind of a small space,” said Beldon. “So we can’t really have a huge band, we can’t have tons of amps and electronics. So we’re tending to ask people to pare it down.”
Beldon hopes the need to pare it down will inspire some unusual live performances from musicians who perform at Music Salon. “If we talk to bands, we ask, have you ever thought about doing a solo gig? Have you ever thought about just the two of you? Have you ever thought about a cappella?” she said. “If you just want to try it out for 30 people, on a small scale, do it here. It’s a great place.”
During Music Salon events, Iridian Gallery will be transformed into a cozier, more intimate space. “We’ll probably have soft light, some rugs, a couch, some overstuffed chairs, and make it look kind of funky,” Beldon said. “Think of it as a house party with 30 friends where you just sit down and relax, and you’re just face to face with each other.”
The idea of this sort of performing space appeals to Parson’s Field, the contemporary folk/Americana quintet who’ll kick off the Music Salon series with their performance this Saturday night. “It’s good to be able to play in the type of setting they’re trying to create,” said Parson’s Field frontwoman Julia Dooley. “I think it’s gonna have a house concert type feeling. You’re not competing like in a bar; it’s a whole other vibe.”
Parson’s Field is a relatively new band, having formed last fall. However, Dooley may be a familiar name to followers of local folk music due to her lengthy tenure in Blue Line Highway. Dooley doesn’t see the Music Salon format as too much of a stretch for her new group. “Although we have electric instruments, we’re not this big rock-out band,” she said. “I just think that in the gallery itself, because of the space, it’ll be a little more of an intimate performance than a normal performance we might do. I think that’s really nice. I’m looking forward to that.”
Saturday’s Music Salon is just the beginning for the series, but Beldon is quick to make clear that it won’t be a strictly planned series. Instead, she’s hoping it will serve musicians in the community according to their needs. “Whoever approaches us, we’re not even asking them to send us a tape,” she said. “We don’t care what your sound is. We let the artist dictate to us what they want to do. If it’s really experimental and they just want to reach out to Richmond and see what happens, we’re fine with that.”
Beldon encouraged any musicians interested in being part of future Music Salon events to get in touch. “I do all the booking,” she said. “It doesn’t have to go through the normal channel of visual art, which the gallery only looks at twice a year. With the music, anybody can call me anytime, and if the date’s available, it’s a go!” Beldon can be contacted directly by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested musicians, get in touch.
The first Music Salon will take place this Saturday at Iridian Gallery at Diversity Richmond. Doors open at 6:30, music starts at 7. Admission is $7, and there will be a cash bar and snacks from The Green Kitchen. Iridian Gallery is located at 1407 Sherwood Ave. Follow Iridian Gallery on facebook here.