The Space in Hamden provides intimate open mic night, local artist recognition

By on November 7, 2006

At The Space, Rick Johnson can unwind and sing his most personal songs. Johnson is a 58-year-old computer programmer who spends all day in front of a computer. It is behind a microphone and guitar that he gets to connect with people.

“I wonder, do you ever think of me?” sang Johnson, sitting on the edge of his stool and leaning into his microphone. He jokingly admitted it is his mid-life crisis song. “It’s a hobby,” he said with his worn-out baseball cap and glasses, looking like your average blue-collar worker.

Sequestered in a back lot of a small business plaza at 295 Treadwell St. in Hamden, The Space serves as a safe haven for anyone looking for friendly conversation and artistic freedom.

The Space could pass for a gypsy boutique, draped with low lying lights that gently illuminate the dark basement. Pieces of furniture, random artifacts, typewriters, lamp shades, and artwork give the room an archaic, eclectic and bohemian feel that reflects the diversity of people who come through its doors and onto the stage.

“I always wanted to have a place to be a positive place to hang out and be a community, and not be pretentious and center around selling liquor,” said 37-year-old Steve Rogers, who started The Space three-and-a-half years ago after being part of a touring band for 12 years. Run on a low budget, The Space gets most of its help from volunteer work. Rogers wants to promote singer songwriters from the area.

Open mic nights on Tuesdays attract a random group of people just looking to get their original art heard. Anyone can sign up to play a couple of songs. The ambience is very laid back and intimate, as if a group of friends were huddled around in a basement playing songs for each other.

On one particular night the set included a father on vocals and his 15-year-old son on guitar, as well as a wandering poet who recited a poem called, “The Warrior,” written for a woman in the audience. The audience is always attentive and curious to hear what the next person will do.

“It’s not a contest. Everyone is very supportive,” Johnson said.

Performers encompass a wide variety of styles, from acoustic folk, to rock, to spoken word.

“It’s always interesting. There are good players and not-so-good players, but that’s not what it’s all about,” Johnson said.

Every day at The Space, people come to do extraordinary things. It is a communal gathering where people can be themselves and just sit in a corner and read, talk to someone or sit down with a guitar and have a face to sing to.


About Justin Kloczko