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Music Meets Community Building At The Venue In Seaside

Nestled between the music scenes of Santa Cruz and Monterey, Seaside can be overlooked as a place to go for dinner and a concert. But one Seaside native has been working to change that through word-of-mouth.  

By day, The Venue is a Montessori School called Auburn House run by Joe Velasquez and his wife, Auburn.

But by night, once a month, this school transforms  into a concert space Velasquez calls, somewhat ironically,  The Venue. It’s  a place that  pairs small musical performances with community building meals.  

I met him in the outside play area.

Dylan Music (DM): Is this the space where the music happens?

Joe Velasquez (JV):  We actually have two places out here. We have the big stage, where we have this huge gazebo, and we have this little area here where we have smaller acts. Sometime we have just a guitar player that makes it a little more intimate. And then we have the indoors; that’s when toward the winter when it’s colder outside.

DM: How and why did you create The Venue?  How did that come about?

Just my whole life has always been around music. I worked with the Monterey Jazz Fest and the Monterey Blues Fest, and all types of other local festivals. And so I’ve always wanted to have something special where the community could be a part of it. And also, we can keep music alive.

DM: And the potlucks. With most of the concerts you do here, there’s like a potluck that comes beforehand where people bring their own food and it usually has a theme. 

JV: Well the magic is the potluck. People feel a part of The Venue when they bring something to share with other people. And it‘s amazing, just some of the things that happen. One time there was a gentleman who brought a gallon of milk and he was like, “this is all I had.” I put it on ice and later on, about twenty minutes later, somebody came with two dozen cookies.  So people can go around and meet each other and also meet the artists and get a picture with them. Something that they don’t get to do when they go to bigger venues.

DM: So the acts you have perform here, they must like to have these intimate musical spaces and I think it goes really well with the potluck theme.

JV: The whole value of the house concerts is that somebody’s actually listening to their lyrics. This is more of an intimate atmosphere that they really enjoy the camaraderie and the clapping and the listening, and so it’s a real respect. And the great thing about it is that once we get people to come, usually they’ll come back. And also, too, there’s a lot of new people that are coming in.

DM: It might have to do with word of mouth, people talking about how great a time they’ve had at these experiences.

JV: Absolutely. You know, word of mouth is the best because you have somebody who has experienced it and they invite somebody.

DM: What would you like to see develop here? Do you want more, of some of the things you’re doing, kind of spreading this artistic vibe throughout the city?

JV: Well I think one of the most important things that we always like to do is let people know that we’re trying to keep music alive.  We’re trying to grow community here with the arts and music. And it’s amazing just to see the talent out there, and we want to be a part of that and we want to welcome people to come.

Joe Velasquez is the founder of The Venue in Seaside.  It launches its 11th season in May.  The first performance of the year will be singer/songwriters Willa Mamet and Paul Miller on Saturday, May 5th.  The potluck will have a Mexican theme.

Willa Mamet and Paul Miller at The Venue

Saturday, May 5th

6:30pm Mexican food potluck

7:30pm Concert

Tickets: $18.00 in advance or $20.00 at the door

The Venue

1242 Siddal Court