DIY concerts offer chance for more intimate shows

ERIC STEVENSON of Pocket Vinyl sings and plays at the keyboard while listeners groove at the Bombshelter on Saturday night in Brunswick. The informal venue is booked and operated by resident Nick Dentico.
Troy R. Bennett
ERIC STEVENSON of Pocket Vinyl sings and plays at the keyboard while listeners groove at the Bombshelter on Saturday night in Brunswick. The informal venue is booked and operated by resident Nick Dentico.
Posted Jan. 10, 2012, at 4:01 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 27, 2012, at 2:02 p.m.
Elizabeth Jancewicz of Pocket Vinyl creates a painting while her husband and partner, Eric Stevenson, sits at the keyboard and sings at a house concert on Jordan Avenue in Brunswick Saturday night. The informal venue, known as The Bombshelter, is booked and operated by resident Nick Dentico.
Troy R. Bennett
Elizabeth Jancewicz of Pocket Vinyl creates a painting while her husband and partner, Eric Stevenson, sits at the keyboard and sings at a house concert on Jordan Avenue in Brunswick Saturday night. The informal venue, known as The Bombshelter, is booked and operated by resident Nick Dentico.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — The to-do list on Nick Dentico’s refrigerator has two tasks:

— Make stuff

— Do things

It’s that ethic that transforms the 30-year-old Dentico’s Jordan Avenue apartment almost weekly into “ the Bombshelter,” a Brunswick DIY concert venue.

DIY stands for “do it yourself.” But the term carries with it more than a preference for changing one’s own motor oil or baking one’s own bread.

The network of people opening space to artists and performers is growing across the state and the country through a website at DoDIY.org. The informal network allows artists like Pocket Vinyl, a Connecticut- based husband and wife duo, to connect directly with DIY organizers like Dentico.

“This is not a bar or some establishment making money” from the shows, Dentico said. “We want to break that habit.”

On Saturday, Pocket Vinyl’s second Bombshelter show brought a dozen or so fans to the Brunswick living room for a concert that included Dentico’s own band — The Creekbats — as well as the Portland-based band Vite Vite Brigitte.

Since 2007, Dentico has helped organize shows in Brunswick that take from the punk-rock DIY aesthetic, though his musical tastes and booking choices tend more toward folk.

Across that history, Dentico said, booking has been “hit or miss. But lately, it’s been mostly hit.”

Dentico attributes the boost in attention to his listing at DoDIY.org, where bands can now find Brunswick alongside two Maine DIY venues in Portland and Biddeford.

“As soon as I put the listing on [DoDIY.org], I had bands knocking on the door,” Dentico said.

The surge in attention is new, Dentico said, but putting on DIY shows in Brunswick is not.

Before faulty wiring sparked an early morning fire at the Unitarian Universalist Church in June, Dentico said he and his friend, Ryan Moore, would host concerts there.

Since the fire, Dentico opened the Bombshelter on Jordan Avenue last year, and Moore is booking concerts and footing the $40 reservation deposit to hold Saturday night concerts in the Morrell Meeting Room at Curtis Memorial Library.

Between the two venues, Dentico said, concerts are booked through the end of February, including a show Saturday at the library and on Jan. 21 back at the Bombshelter.

“For me, part of the impetus is that people in Brunswick say there’s nothing to do,” Dentico said, adding that he’s enjoyed making Brunswick a destination.

“It’s been rewarding for that,” Dentico said, “and it helps the bands out.”

Eric Stevenson and his wife, Elizabeth Jancewicz, are on their first full-time tour as the painter-musician duo Pocket Vinyl. That tour kicked off in October at the Bombshelter. During their return Saturday night, both said they prefer more intimate shows.

Jancewicz, who also illustrates children’s books and comic books, said that DIY concerts offer a stronger connection with the audience.

“House shows are always about relationships,” Jancewicz said. “You can’t get out of a DIY show without making friends.”

Stevenson, pianist and singer for Pocket Vinyl, said that DIY shows most often beat playing in bars or clubs.

“I’ve played a lot of bars where [audiences] don’t care,” Stevenson said.

DIY shows, he said, provide more time to interact and connect with an audience rather than entertain.

“You make more fans,” Stevenson said. “It’s nice to play for people who appreciate it and at house shows you feel like you’re worth something.”

During the show, silent bidding opened on the painting that Jancewicz completed live by the end of the nearly hour-long set.

Appreciation for the returning band was evident by what Stevenson said is the highest bid received for a live painting yet: $250.

“I don’t know how bands tour without a painter,” Stevenson said. “That’s half of our income” from a show.

After Saturday, the two will continue a national tour — taking Stevenson’s keyboard and sawhorses, along with Jancewicz’s easel — to various venues, including 131 Washington St. in Portland.

Dentico will move on to organizing future concerts as requests come in from bands and as interest grows.

With concert lineups that can change by the day, Dentico has to be adaptable. But there are a few hard rules he does follow.

“There is a noise ordinance that says we have to end by 10,” Dentico said. “I had a band practice before that went to 10:01 [p.m.] and the cops showed up.”

Between booking smaller bands — like Pocket Vinyl — and ending at 10 p.m., Dentico said he’s had no complaints from the neighbors.

And on Saturday, Dentico instated another rule: that the audience dancing in the living room measuring about 12 feet by 10 feet not disturb Stevenson’s music or Jancewicz’s painting, which kept the performers happy.

“It’s safe to say that we’ll be back,” Stevenson said.

Dentico said the next concert at the Bombshelter will take place Jan. 21 from 5 to 10 p.m., with Portland-based folk musician Jesse Pilgrim of Portland, the Brunswick band Danger I Reckon and Rob Cimitile with Builder of the House.

On Saturday, Dentico said, a concert at Curtis Memorial Library from 5 to 8 p.m. will feature the Bangor-based band Great Western Plain, Tom Hamill, Calamagrostis, and Jefferson Star Destroyer.

For more information on the Bombshelter, visit brunswickbombshelter.wordpress.com.

For more information about Pocket Vinyl, visit pocketvinyl.com.

Hear part of Saturday’s concert at reporter Darren Fishell’s blog.

To see more from the Times Record visit timesrecord.com

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