Richmond’s brand new music venue (video 1:26)

Richmond’s brand new music venue (video 1:26)
Richmond’s brand new music venue (video 1:26)
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For those who aren’t into music history, the name “The Tin Pan” pays homage to the famed Tin Pan Alley, a nickname given to the songwriters and musicians who lived in a small section of turn-of-the-century Manhattan.


Another insider term: “soft opening” means a restaurant is quietly testing its food operation to work out the kinks before the grand opening. When that restaurant is also a listening room (a venue that promotes listening over partying), like the new Tin Pan, that means making sure the sound and lighting are also ready to go.


I had the chance to sample both Thursday night 2/12. Located in Quioccasin Station’s former Don Pedro’s Mexican restaurant, the new venue features an open floor plan with a variety of seating options and a decent-sized stage on one side.




A solo act from Maryland, “Winship,” entertained the close-to-capacity house (seating for 180). The sound was good and very uniform across the room. With the open layout there really isn’t a bad seat. While it is a listening room and the owners strongly respect musicians and their music, they feel like “the level of conversation really depends on the act…some go better with a side of conversation, some will shine alone.” The staff also delivers “flags” before the act starts, so you can get your waiter’s attention without being too disruptive (and keeping traffic to a minimum).


Creating a listening room meant investing in a professional level sound and lighting package. Initially the owners considered an “out-of-the-box” PA system from a music store, but their national talent buyer emphasized that it wasn’t going to cut it for touring acts. House sound engineer John O’Donnell describes the installed system as top notch and emphasizes it works really well in the space – a bit surprising given the hard, reflective surfaces.



House sound engineer John O’Donnell

In the long run the investment will prove to be money well spent. “For a band, a state-of-the-art sound system like this is often a pleasant surprise. Venues will say they have a PA but…. Bands work hard creating their product; they don’t want it ruined by a bad system.”


Tin Pan intends to present mostly acoustic acts and their list of booked acts strongly supports that. According to O’Donnell, that doesn’t preclude a band usually associated with a bigger (electric) sound from taking a swing at performing acoustically for a change of pace.




Once fully operational, the owners hope to have live music 4-5 night a week. Show tickets will include a table reservation with shows typically starting early. Opening night will feature pianist Bruin Richardson on their baby grand. No word if there will be champagne bubbles filling the room (an appropriate touch for Valentine’s).




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Good news: I caught the last set of JAMinc’s show Thursday night and Robbin Thompson sat in to open the set with his “A Real Fine Day.” He sang and played just like before his recent surgery and is in good spirits. In fact, he and Steve Bassett spent that morning at the General Assembly glad-handing to help get their “Sweet Virginia Breeze” chosen as the state’s official “popular” song. Great to see him back.


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